There is nothing new about the practice of yoga having been around for many centuries particularly in Eastern Cultures. In recent years, yoga has become increasingly popular world wide for its benefits both in physical and mental health.
Yoga is the most popular form of complementary therapy and has been shown to help with relaxation and mindfulness practice as well its many benefits to physical health
Yoga and Brain Health
Researchers at the University of Illinois have reviewed how yoga practice affects brain health.
They looked at 11 studies to review how yoga may affect this brain health as well as blood flow to the brain. 5 out of the 11 trials looked at people who were new to the practice of yoga and took part in one or more session per week over 10-24 weeks. They compared the markers for brain health before and after the introduction of this regular practice.
The other 6 studies looked at measure of brain health in those who practiced yoga frequently versus those who did not.
MRI scans and other forms of imaging were used to look at the results and all studies looked at the practice of Hatha yoga which focuses on meditation, breathing and movement.
Reviewing the studies, the researchers found brain changes related to yoga practice were associated with an improvement in cognitive performance and interestingly, emotional regulation.
Yoga and Stress
They found that regular yoga practice may help with an improvement in the cortisol stress response and overall, that the positive benefits of yoga on brain structure and emotional processing improved overall brain function.
Researchers concluded that regular yoga may have brain protecting effects although agreed that there was more research to be done before absolute concluding advice could be given. Other areas for research would look at results over a longer time frame and also consider how yoga compares to other forms of exercise with regard to benefits for brain health
Looking to give Yoga a go?
With many forms of yoga available, there is something for everyone and thankfully there are lots of online options to get started with whilst we continue to make our way through lockdown.
For more suggestions and details on these look at
As a yoga beginner, my personal favourite is Yoga with Adriene!
No age is too young to get started, for kids we love www.cosmickids.com
Dr Clara Russell