Benefits of yoga: how yoga affects the brain

Get your yoga groove on
Get your yoga groove on

Have you always quite liked the idea of getting into yoga, but to be honest, you don’t think of it as ‘real’ exercise? Well, don’t shun the yoga workout in favour of a run or a session on the cross trainer (unless you really want to) because researchers have found that yoga can make you brainy!

OK, you might not get the cardio benefits from a yoga workout that you’d get from a Zumba class or treadmill pounding session, unless you’re indulging in something a bit hard core like Bikram yoga or celeb favourite Power Yoga (which Madonna and Geri Halliwell flirted with in the early noughties.) Normal Hatha yoga is great for concentration and mental clarity, according to researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Volunteers were asked to work out for just 20 minutes on a treadmill, or do 20 minutes of yoga, and then asked to concentrate on a task. The people who had been jogging on the treadmill found it harder to concentrate on the task than those who had been focussing on yoga postures and deep breathing. The reason for this is thought to be that the relaxation and meditative states that people get into while they are doing yoga can improve stress and anxiety levels, which in turn make it easier to concentrate.

The study was only carried out on 30 students, so more research needs to be done before anyone can say definitively that yoga makes you brainier, but it’s as good an excuse as any to fit in an early morning yoga session…now where did I put my mat?

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