Saturday, 29 August 2015

Yoga boosts brainpower!

Research students at the University of Illinois have shown that just 20 minutes a day on the yoga mat stimulates brain function.

The findings described below were originally published in the 'Journal of Physical Activity & Health' (here)

Participants were asked to complete a range of cognitive exercises before and after a short yoga session. They compared this with after aerobic exercise and no exercise at all.

"Participants performed significantly better after the yoga than after aerobic exercise for the same amount of time," said lead researcher Nehe Gothe.

The yoga improved their focus, helped them process the information faster and with more accuracy. Plus the brainy-benefits kicked in faster than after the aerobic exercise (approximately 30 minutes after completing their last pose).

We've known for a long time that yoga reduces stress and anxiety (which in itself improves brain function). Yoga is not simply a physical activity. Mindful breathing is practised alongside the physical poses, and this calm, focussed breathing plays a huge part in reucing stress and aleviating anxiety.

So, in addition to mindful breathing, which poses are the best for boosting brain-power? Inverted poses which can be maintained for a few minutes, such as headstand, shoulderstand and halasana, increase the blood supply to the brain and have a profound effect on sharpening memory and enhancing brain function.

The next time you have an important meeting, presentation or exam, roll out your yoga mat to make the very best of what you've got!

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