Are there are any limits to the benefits of yoga? Apparently not as the ancient exercise favoured by celebs has been found to significantly improve brain function after one 20 minute work out.
Researchers at the Wayne State University found that people performed better in cognitive tests for both speed and accuracy after just one 20 minute Hatha yoga session.
'It appears that following yoga practice, the participants were better able to focus their mental resources, process information quickly, more accurately and also learn, hold and update pieces of information more effectively than after performing an aerobic exercise bout,' explained lead researcher Neha Gothe, a professor of kinesiology, health and sport studies.
The small study looked at the performance of 30 female, undergraduate students on cognitive tests after doing a 20 minute yoga session, which included some meditation, and after a 20 minute workout on a treadmill.
The study found the aerobic exercise didn't improve the memory or brain function of those involved, whereas the scores improved after the yoga session.
So why does it work?
The results can be explained by a number of factors.
'The breathing and meditative exercises aim at calming the mind and body and keeping distracting thoughts away while you focus on your body, posture or breath. Maybe these processes translate beyond yoga practice when you try to perform mental tasks or day-to-day activities,' explained Gothe.
Reduced anxiety and stress and an enhanced sense of self-awareness may also contribute to doing better on the cognitive tests.
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