Hatha Yoga Helps Increase Cognitive Function

  • August 28, 2014
  • Science
  • Comments Off on Hatha Yoga Helps Increase Cognitive Function

Regular Hatha Yoga Helps Increase Cognitive Function

In most discussions about health, wellness and our personal futures there is a particular subject that is almost guaranteed to make most people uncomfortable- our mental health and ability to function when we reach our twilight years. It is an understandable reaction; there is something frightening about the thought of losing our mental faculties and not being in complete control of ourselves. There are countless activities and choices we can make today to improve our physical health in later years but is there anything we can do to make certain we will enjoy good mental health as we get older?

Well, there just might be. It turns out that practicing hatha yoga a few times per week could lead to significant boosts in senior citizens’ cognitive abilities. A study featured well over one hundred people ranging in age from 55 years old to 79 years old. Nearly half of these people attended hatha yoga classes while the rest of the people took classes for stretching exercises. After taking their respective classes for an eight week period everybody was brought in to take a series of tests that gauged the participants’ ability to recall information, moving from performing one task to another and mental flexibility.

As you might expect, the group that was taking hatha yoga classes showed improvements in all of these areas while the group engaged in regular stretching exercises did not show any signs of improvement. Participants in the yoga classes were able to complete their tasks more quickly and with fewer instances of distraction than their counterparts. The researchers behind the study pointed out that there were no significant differences between the two groups of subjects other than the one group participating in hatha yoga classes.

What is it about hatha yoga that allows people to develop such major increases in their cognitive abilities? Hatha yoga can be described as a series of exercises involving meditation, breathing and moving one’s body in a variety of stances. A typical user must move his or her body through these assorted stances in a controlled manner while maintaining their breathing at a relaxed rate.

Hatha Yoga has already been determined to be helpful to our bodies and minds in a number of different ways. For example, studies conducted earlier have shown that yoga can lower stress levels, aid in moving on from depression and reducing physical anxiety. It is known that both stress and anxiety can impact our abilities to concentrate and think critically. With this in mind it is worth considering that regular participation in yoga exercises could possibly prevent the deterioration of our crucial mental functions.

It should be pointed out that there are obviously no guarantees in life. However, it appears that regular participation in yoga exercises not only provides benefits now but also helps condition us for happy and functional lives when we are older.

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