As if you needed another reason to roll out your mat…research published in the journal Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience found that a regular yoga practice may improve memory and protect against cognitive decline.
With our ageing population it is crucial to continually look for ways to improve the quality of life in our later years. The physical benefits to regular exercise have been explored and published extensively but this new paper shows for the first time that regular yoga practice can help with positive changes in brain structure and function.
The study in question took images of the brains of 21 yogis and 21 non-practitioners, all women over 60 and found they had thicker left prefrontal cortexes, which is the area of the brain responsible for memory and attention. As we age, the left prefrontal cortex is the area that tends to thin out, leading to memory loss and impaired attention. So this cortical thickening is a great thing.
While this study is a small one, it makes a strong case for the importance of yoga beyond improved flexibility and reduced anxiety. So if you have a lifelong yoga practice, good for you — you’re doing a lot to benefit your future self. Just as with the muscles of the body, the brain develops and strengthen through training — and contemplative practice such as yoga has a cognitive component in which can strengthen attention and concentration.
The already long list of benefits to a regular yoga practice just keeps growing. There’s no time like the present to pick up your super comfy activewear and dive into the practice that keeps on giving.