A Yoga Practice & Your Brain
A new research review has found that yoga appears to strengthen the brain in the same way aerobic exercise does. University of Illinois and Wayne State University researchers noted that scientists have known for decades that aerobic exercise bolsters brain health and contributes to the growth of new neurons. Their review of earlier studies revealed that practicing yoga seems to increase the volume of the hippocampus, a portion of the brain involved in memory processing, but which often shrinks with age. (It is the part of the brain first affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.) Each of the 11 studies reviewed utilized brain-imaging techniques including MRIs, functional MRI or single-photon emission computerized tomography and involved practitioners of Hatha yoga. Studies showed that the amygdala, a brain structure that contributes to emotional regulation, tends to be larger in people who practice yoga than in their non-yogic peers. Another plus: the brain changes seen in yoga practitioners are linked to better performance on cognitive tests and measures of emotional regulation.
Neha P. Gothe et al, “Yoga Effects on Brain Heath: A Systemic Review of the Current Literature”, November 5, 2019, Brain Plasticity, DOI: 10.3233BPL190084
More from this week’s bulletin:
Sign up for Dr. Weil’s Newsletters