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Healing the Mind on the Mat
Wellness
Published Tuesday Jul 04, 2017 by Janet Nash

Healing the Mind on the Mat

Meditation
Motivation
Personal Growth
Perspective

As a mental health therapist for the past 22 years, I do a lot of listening and talking to my clients, known as “top-down” therapy. My clients process their thoughts and emotions, they identify their valued life, and together we come up with strategies to manage their life issues. While traditional talk therapy offers benefits when managing mood issues, sometimes clients are left with a continued state of unease with life. When talk therapy alone isn’t enough, traditional first-line treatment is a combination of talk therapy and antidepressant medication.

As a registered yoga teacher and therapist, I sensed that yoga combined with psychotherapy might be a very powerful tool in the treatment of mood disorders and anxiety. After personally struggling with a year-long bout of clinical depression treated with antidepressant medication, yoga has contributed to my own mood stabilization free of medications for 13 years.

I am not alone in my belief that yoga can help heal students with depression—exciting new research has evaluated the connection between a regular yoga practice and depression symptoms. The research indicates that interactions between the brain and peripheral tissues, including the cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems, contribute to both mental and physical health—the mind-body connection! Therefore, therapies like yoga are proving to have significant potential to positively impact the treatment of depression. Why? Researchers have found that practicing yoga may boost mood-lifting brain chemicals such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (or GABA).

In 2007, Chris Streeter, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and a research associate at McLean Hospital, studied the increase in GABA in the brain using an fMRI scan after study participants practiced yoga. Dr. Streeter compared the GABA levels of subjects prior to and after one hour of yoga with subjects who did no yoga but read for one hour. She found a 27 percent increase in GABA levels in the yoga group after their session, but no change in the comparison group after their reading session.

The thought is that yoga stimulates specific brain areas which gives rise to changes in antidepressant neurotransmitters like GABA. Yoga soothes the nervous system while stimulating positive mood. Perry Renshaw, MD, PhD, director of the Brain Imaging Center at McLean Hospital and senior author stated, “The development of an inexpensive, widely available intervention such as yoga that has no side effects but is effective in alleviating the symptoms of disorders associated with low GABA levels has clear public health advantage.

Yoga also promotes powerful mind-training practices such as mindfulness. According to Pawan Bareja, PhD, “Mindfulness is a radical practice where instead of turning away, we actually turn towards our difficult emotions and hold them with curiosity and compassion.” It’s like a superpower or mental Aikido. We take the energy of our negative emotions and transmute them into something positive by holding them tenderly and with compassion.

This research solidifies exactly what I’ve seen firsthand in both my life and my career: yoga has a powerful impact on mindfulness, mood and depression—and there’s great value in having a consistent practice.


Do you have an inspiring story about health and wellness? We want to hear it! Email us at [email protected]

Janet Nash
Written by
Janet Nash
Studio Owner
About the author
Janet is co-owner and steward of Gracetree Yoga & Growth Studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. Janet received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service and received post-graduate training in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy at Fordham.
female massage therapist massaging client in spa
Beauty
Published Wednesday Dec 23, 2020 by Denise Prichard

Unexpected Looks and Learnings from 2020

To put it bluntly—2020 was a real bummer. When we entered the year, we all had that “20/20 vision” mindset of making the year one of travel, joy, discovering new hobbies, and conquering our fitness goals. But come March, that vision became a blurry mess of sheltering-in-place and being forced to throw our normal routines and our aspirations out the window.  

Who would have thought that something like getting a haircut would be off-limits? Or that those monthly massages wouldn’t be around to help us unwind? 2020 forced us to get creative, and you blew us away with your stick-to-itiveness. 

We recently polled you on Instagram to see which beauty and wellness services you missed the most and how you’ve re-vamped your self-care routines to stay sane during this train wreck of a year. And I must say, as I read your responses in my sweats, rocking the messiest top knot of all time, I definitely felt like I need to take it up a notch when it comes to getting ready for the workday.  

Seriously—an alarming number of you have been on point when it comes to sticking to your daily morning routines and actually wearing work clothes while on Zoom calls. Kudos to you!  

Curious to see what the takeaways were from our Instagram poll? Keep reading.

Takeaway #1: All beauty services are missed equally 
beauty services missed 2020

According to your responses, you're all sick of your exposed roots and split ends equally, with 51% of you preferring to get a haircut and 49% opting for hair color. The numbers were also pretty close when it came to your nails—with 52% of you opting for a manicure over a pedicure. Due to the pandemic, the state of the beauty industry has been on a rollercoaster of openings and closings—and they need our help and support now more than ever. If you happen to live in an area where you’re able to enjoy beauty services, make sure you show your stylist or nail artist a little bit of extra love when tipping them.  

 

Takeaway #2: You miss massages, but are ready for touchless spa treatments 
touchless spa treatments

Anybody who knows me will tell you the thing I miss the most is getting a monthly massage—and 71% of you seem to agree. With most of us working from our beds or hunched over our laptops on our couches, our posture (if not our comfort) has taken a serious hit. While most of us either live in an area where massages are off-limits or we just don’t feel safe going in for one quite yet, there are some touchless spa treatments you're ready to try.  

  • 69% of you are interested in trying an infrared sauna treatment—no surprise during the cold winter months. This type of treatment uses light to directly warm your body to increase heart rate, help you sweat out the bad stuff (like all that wine we’ve been drinking), and treat chronic health problems.  
  • 31% of you are willing to brave the cold of cryotherapy. These sessions aim to decrease inflammation and speed up recovery time after an intense workout by standing in an extremely cold chamber of liquid nitrogen or dry, fresh, oxygenated air. 
  • 52% of you are down to try out salt caves. Turns out, Himalayan pink salt isn’t just for you fancy home chefs out there. By sitting in an entire room made of this salt, you can relax and potentially treat respiratory and skin issues.   
  • 48% of you are ready to suit up for a float tank sesh. If you love meditating, this is the perfect touchless spa treatment to try. Float tanks are filled with body-temperature saltwater—and they’re lightless and soundproof. You guys—I’ve tried this and it’s definitely the kind of R&R we all need right now.  
Takeaway #3: Your self-care routines are admirable 

Call it wishful thinking, but I was fully expecting most of you to say, “Zoom camera off” as your go-to beauty tip—but I guess that’s just me. Instead, you've all been pretty consistent with your morning routines—working out, showering, and dressing like you're actually going into an office. Some of you are even going the extra mile and putting on a red lip and some earrings. I’m taking notes.  

And even though this year’s challenges put a damper on our normal routines, it's inspired us to get creative with our skincare regimen. Some of you have added new serums and masks to your skincare arsenal, while others have tried out at-home facials for that quarantine glow. By far, one of the most popular answers was the incorporation of Gua Sha to help detoxify, brighten, and tighten your skin.  

This year was one for the books. But I think it made us realize there is always wellness—and that taking care of ourselves is crucial. If you're in an area where in-house beauty services are an option, book that appointment (if you feel safe to do so). If your only option right now is to stay at home, keep carrying on with your feel-good, at-home routines.  

If you're curious to see what some other wellness trends you should take note of in 2021, check out this blog 
 

denise prichard
Written by
Denise Prichard
Marketing Content Specialist
About the author
Denise Prichard is a certified yoga instructor (RYT-200) and an experienced content marketing professional with a penchant for writing compelling copy within the health, wellness and beauty industries. When she isn't writing or editing, you can find her teaching yoga classes, at a spin class or hanging out with her rescue pups.