We know the physical benefits that can be harnessed from a regular yoga practise; improved flexibility, strength and balance to name a few. But did you know there is a growing body of evidence revealing the potential benefits of yoga for brain health. The research, and findings are encouraging, so if you're interested in cognitive health, and keen to optimise your brain fitness & mental wellbeing, here is what we found:

Researchers are exploring various mechanisms by which yoga might influence brain health. Yoga may impact neuroplasticity, promoting the brain's ability to change and adapt. It may also reduce inflammation, which contributes to cognitive decline and mental health issues. Additionally, mindfulness practices associated with yoga may improve attention and emotional regulation.

What the research says:

In 2020, a review was published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience that analysed 11 studies. It was found that practising yoga had positive effects on memory, attention, decision-making and problem-solving.

Earlier, a 2019 study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that yoga improved cognitive function and brain structure in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. This suggests that yoga may play a role in preventing cognitive decline.

Neurobiology of Aging published a review in 2018 of 14 studies. It was concluded that yoga led to improvements in emotional regulation and wellbeing in various populations, including healthy adults, older adults, and individuals suffering with depression and anxiety.

A 2017, another review in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy considered 17 studies and concluded that yoga effectively reduces stress and anxiety. Chronic stress and anxiety can significantly impact cognitive function and emotional well-being.

A 2016 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry pitched yoga against stress management education for reducing anxiety in adults with general anxiety disorder. Both yoga and education were effective, suggesting yoga could be a valid alternative for managing anxiety.

While research is promising, more studies would be welcome to more fully understand the long-term effects and specific mechanisms of yoga on brain health. The type and intensity of yoga practice may of course influence benefits and outcomes of research. Overall, however, the research on yoga for brain health presents encouraging results for yoga's potential in improving brain health, cognitive function, emotional regulation, and in reducing stress and anxiety.

Please note:

Yoga should not be considered a replacement for professional medical advice or treatment for mental health conditions.

Please share this blog with anyone you feel might benefit.

Thank you, H & L-A