Advertisement

Improve a Bad Mood with Yoga Exercises

Improve a Bad Mood with Yoga Exercises

If life's got you feeling frazzled or blue, adjust your bad mood for the better by striking a few yoga poses.

According to a small study, this popular joint-loosening, muscle-toning exercise cranks up brain levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps take the edge off anxiety and helps bust up blue moods.

It's a Real Stretch
Why do yoga exercises boost a bad mood? It may have something to do with your nerves. In particular, a thing called your vagus nerve. This long nerve helps turn on your parasympathetic nervous system -- the part of your central nervous system that's responsible for boosting GABA and making you feel happy and relaxed. And, as it turns out, yoga does a mighty fine job of activating the vagus nerve, enabling that whole chain of feel-good events in your body to happen. 

Keep On Truckin'
In fact, in the study, yoga exercises even bested walking when it came to improving a bad mood. Folks who practiced an hour of Iyengar yoga three times a week experienced greater jumps in GABA levels and felt happier, more tranquil, and more energized than a control group that engaged in 3 hours of equally intense walking each week. So although all forms of exercise do a great job of increasing feel-swell brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, it's probably not a bad idea to mix in a yoga session or two each week for extra-happy measure.

Related: Exercise is great for your skin, too. Check out this list of seven good-for-your-skin habits.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

Press "Play" for a Better Mood
Press "Play" for a Better Mood
Want to feel less stressed? Happier? More energetic? Spend more time with your stereo. A small study suggests that music typically affects people's e...
Read More
How does the mind distract us from our feelings?
Jacob TeitelbaumJacob Teitelbaum
Many of us avoid uncomfortable feelings or feel that certain feelings should not be felt. In additio...
More Answers
Loneliness May Be Deadlier Than Obesity—And Other Shocking Facts
Loneliness May Be Deadlier Than Obesity—And Other Shocking FactsLoneliness May Be Deadlier Than Obesity—And Other Shocking FactsLoneliness May Be Deadlier Than Obesity—And Other Shocking FactsLoneliness May Be Deadlier Than Obesity—And Other Shocking Facts
About 42.6 million US adults over age 45 report chronic loneliness, but younger people may also be at risk.
Start Slideshow
How Does Our Emotional Health Affect Our Physical Health?
How Does Our Emotional Health Affect Our Physical Health?