Yoga Improves Mental Function

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Gothe et al. from the University of Illinois recently conducted a study to look into the effects of hatha yoga on cognition. They recruited 118 senior citizens (mean age of 62) and randomly assigned them to one of 2 groups: a hatha yoga intervention group and a stretching/strengthening control group. Each group took part in hour-long exercise classes 3x/week for 8 weeks. At the end of the study period the yoga group showed improved results at information recall, mental flexibility and task switching. Whereas the stretching/strengthening group showed no improvement.

Although the underlying mechanisms are not known, it’s possible that the improvements in mental function┬ámay have been secondary to a reduction in stress. Alternatively, they may be down to the focussed attention on breathing, body position and movement.