Study: Yoga Can Improve Cognitive Function

Yoga Ocean

Those who practice yoga will tell you just how much that form of physical activity can not only improve your body, but also your mental state. Well, further evidence regarding the latter has been uncovered thanks to a team of researchers from UCLA and Australia’s University of Adelaide.

In a study (which has since been published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease), 25 participants aged 55 and older were entered into either a three-month memory-training program, or one that instead focused on yoga and meditation.

The 11 individuals who took part in the memory-training program were subjected to daily memory enhancement training and memory exercises. Meanwhile, the other 14 people attended Kundalini yoga classes and did 20 minutes of daily Kirtan Kriya meditation that consisted of chanting, visualization of light and hand movements.

All participants had previously shown signs of mild cognitive impairment. Additionally, every participant had brain scans and completed memory tests before and after the trial.

At the end of the three-month period, everyone involved showed improvement in verbal memory skills (i.e remembering a person’s name.) However, those who did months of yoga and meditation training showed better improvements in terms of visual-spatial memory skills (i.e. navigation and recalling locations.) Furthermore, those who partook in yoga and meditation showed greater improvements with regards to levels of depression, anxiety, as well as resilience to stress and coping skills.

“Historically and anecdotally, yoga has been thought to be beneficial in aging well, but this is the scientific demonstration of that benefit,” commented the study’s lead author, Harris Eyre. “We’re converting historical wisdom into the high level of evidence required for doctors to recommend therapy to their patients.”

Added senior author Helen Lavretsky: “If you or your relatives are trying to improve your memory or offset the risk for developing memory loss or dementia, a regular practice of yoga and meditation could be a simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving your brain fitness.”

Considering all of those positives to come out of this intriguing study, why not rush out the door and sign up for a Yoga class?

If that’s not your style, keep an eye out for episodes of “Healing Yoga” with Deborah Devine and get moving in the privacy of your own home. “Healing Yoga” airs weekdays (6:30am, 8:30am & 6pm ET / 3:30am, 5:30am, & 3pm PT) and weekends (1:30pm ET / 10:30am PT) on OneTV.

-Adam Grant

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