Do you sometimes suffer with brain fog and a lack of mental focus? Do you worry that over time this is going to get worse or believe that it is a natural sign of aging and there’s nothing you can do about it? Well, according to one study, if you want to sharpen your brain power you need to sharpen up your yoga moves, and then in just eight weeks, you might actually be able to improve your memory with yoga!
Quality of life is not just measured in how fit you are and the level of functional movements and physical performance. Engaging and interacting with a healthy cognitive performance also enriches our lives. Yoga has long been associated with supporting and strengthening a mind-body connection and there are many benefits to yoga practice that go way beyond fitness; inspiring a feeling of wellness and wellbeing that incorporates your focus, your memory, your brain and your cognitive capacity.
Neha Gothe, an Indian-origin researcher who is currently a professor at Wayne State University, along with Edward McAuley, a professor of kinesiology and community health and the University of Illinois set up a study of 108 adults between the ages of 55 and 79. Out of this group 61 practiced hatha yoga three times a week for eight weeks. The remaining participants also exercised for the same amount of time with stretching and toning exercises.
Prior to the study, the group had been individually tested on various cognitive abilities. When they were retested after the eight weeks, the yoga group were found to be quicker and more accurate when it came to memory tasks such as information recall, mental flexibility and switching tasks. With the stretching and toning group there were no significant changes in the test results.
Why might yoga help your brain?
The study focused on hatha yoga, which is often regarded as a gentle yoga where the emphasis is on slowly moving into correct poses, breathing techniques and meditation. Hatha often focuses not just on what the body is doing but also the mind. Gothe suggests that this could help somehow train the mind outside the yoga class: “It is possible that this focus on one’s body, mind and breathing during yoga practice may have generalized to situations outside of the yoga classes, resulting in an improved ability to sustain attention.”
The stress factor
What is certainly true is that stress and anxiety can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and this can cause you to feel distracted, pent up and unable to concentrate. Yoga in general is renowned for inspiring clarity by de-stressing the body and the mind. Yoga practice by its very nature is about the mind letting go of obstacles to a clear and present practice where the attention is brought gently to changing yoga movements.
All ages could benefit from yoga
While the recent study on the link between yoga and cognitive functions involved the over 55 age group, Nethe was also part of a University of Illinois study involving the effects of hatha yoga on 30 female undergraduates. The researchers’ findings suggest even a short 20 minute practice significantly improved memory, focus and learning ability.
Give your brainpower and your body a boost with some healthy yoga moves. Find out what we can do to help you.