By practicing yoga on a regular basis, you will discover that it has a lot of benefits you might not have known about. On a physical level you can improve your posture, balance, strengthen your muscles and it makes you more lean and flexible. Not only that, it can even help you get rid of several chronic pains and lowers your blood sugar and pressure. On a mental level, you experience more happiness, it enhances the feeling of relaxation and raises your self-esteem.
Earlier this year, a new study got published in the ‘Journal of Alzheimer’s disease’. This study, led by Dr. Helen Lavretsky, showed that besides the benefits on a physical and mental level, yoga also improves the brain function. It literally changes your brain for the better.
For this study, middle-aged and elderly test subjects, with a mild cognitive decline, were asked to perform a range of cognitive tests. Afterwards, they got divided into two groups. The first group was assigned to do brain training for one hour once a week.
Combined with 15 minutes of practice at home on a daily base. The second group got assigned to do Kundalini yoga for one hour once a week and they were asked to meditate for 15 minutes every day.
After 12 weeks only all the test subjects came together again to redo the cognitive tasks. They all showed improvement. But the people from the yoga group scored significantly higher than the brain training group. Not only that, the participants from the yoga group also reported to feel better mentally and physically.
Dr. Helen Lavretsky about the study:
“The brain scans in both groups displayed more communication now between parts of their brains involved in memory and language skills. Those who had practiced yoga, however, also had developed more communication between parts of the brain that control attention, suggesting a greater ability now to focus and multitask.
In effect, yoga and meditation had equaled and then topped the benefits of 12 weeks of brain training. ‘We were a bit surprised by the magnitude’ of the brain effects”
How can yoga have this effect?
All the things we feel and the things we do are of influence to our brain. As are the state of our mind and body. Compare the brain of a stressed person to the brain of a relaxed person. The stressed person feels rushed, stressed and restless.
Also, this person is more likely to have a higher blood pressure and experience more physical discomforts. When looked at this person’s brain function, they will find it more difficult to concentrate, they will be easily distracted and won’t be as efficient as a relaxed person.
The state of our mind literally alters the chemical composition in our brain. Especially when taken over a longer period of time. A state of mind can turn into a habit, this can be a good or a bad habit. And just as any other habit, it is not easy to get rid of.
When we start practicing yoga, it slowly changes our lifestyle. While the exercises are good for the body, the meditation is good for the mind and the concentrated breathing has benefits for both.
This combination is felt in every fiber of our being and will show in a change of mentality, attitude, and behavior. It influences us that much that when this is being maintained it can break a bad habit, like stress.
Gradually a person becomes more relaxed and experiences more happiness as the stress decreases. The brain’s composition changes alongside with the rest of the changes in the body.
These changes are an indication of an overall positive shift in your life. So what are you waiting for?!
by Elimor Bader