Yoga Improves Brain Function More Than Aerobic Exercise


Icone02A team of researchers led by Professor Neha Gothe from the University of Illinois recently studied the effects of yoga on mental function. Their subjects performed 3 different sessions:

  • A 20-minute Hatha yoga session with progressions from sitting to standing and then lying in a meditative position whilst focussing on breathing
  • A 20-minute aerobic work-out on an inclined treadmill with participants working at 60-70% of their maximum heart rate
  • A baseline assessment

They found that mental performance after yoga was significantly better for both inhibition and working memory tasks (ie. shorter reaction times, increased accuracy) than after aerobic exercise and after baseline measurements.

Prof Gothe commented that, “The breathing and meditative exercises aim at calming the mind and body and keeping distracting thoughts away while you focus on your body, posture or breath. Maybe these processes translate beyond yoga practice when you try to perform mental tasks or day-to-day activities.”

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