If you like yoga you probably know that it makes you feel good. But did you know that certain parts of your brain (responsible for memory, decision making and emotions) actually start to measurably grow within 10 weeks of starting a twice-weekly yoga practise?
A few months ago a bunch of Very Clever People from various American universities decided to get together to scrutinise some studies investigating the effects of yoga on the brain. The group, led by professor Neha Gothe and professor Jessica Damoiseaux (pictured below) looked at 11 studies in total and wrote up their findings in a report.
To save you time, here is the crux of what they found: yoga benefits the brain in much the same way aerobic exercise does. It improves mood, memory and decision making skills.
If you happen to have a bit of time to learn more, here’s exactly what they found:
Yoga results in measurable growth in these areas of the brain:
- Amygdala and cingulate cortex, which both contribute to emotional regulation, learning and memory.
- Prefrontal cortex, essential to planning, decision-making, multitasking and weighing up options.
- Hippocampus, which is not a school for hippos, sadly, but it does help in memory processing. Interestingly, the hippocampus gets smaller as we age and is the first structure affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – so could yoga help stop that?
It’s really fascinating that we can actually SEE yoga having an effect on the brain. Feelings are so wishy washy and subjective, so if I tell you that I walk out of my yoga class feeling somehow right, and okay with stuff, that isn’t going to mean much to you. But you can’t really argue with an MRI scan, can you? No.
So there we go. A bit of science to start the weekend. Thanks for reading 🙂
Oh, and if you want to actually see the science for yourself, you can see the science for yourself here.