Previous research has shown that yoga and exercise both have beneficial effects on mood and anxiety.
It has also been shown that certain neurotransmitter activity, γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), is decreased in mood and anxiety disorders.
Researchers wanted to test if practicing yoga is associated with increased brain GABA levels in an area of the brain called the thalamus. The thalamus is located deep inside the middle of the brain and is the primary relay station for most signals that are being transmitted throughout the brain.
Their hypothesis was that improvement in mood would be associated with increased GABA levels while increased anxiety would be correlated with a decrease in GABA levels. They suspected that practicing yoga would increase subjects’ GABA levels and improve mood and anxiety ratings.