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Yoga Makes For A Healthy Brain
On the mental level, yoga is very relaxing. Research has found that it lowers the stress hormone cortisol, and produces feelings of calm and mental clarity.
But as mentioned above, these benefits overlap, and the manner in which yoga reduces stress also helps fight off weight gain. Cortisol actually affects how fat accumulates on the body. Simply put, the more stressed out you are, the more likely you are to gain fat around your midsection. By reducing cortisol levels, yoga can help prevent you from packing on unwanted pounds. In fact, a study at the Fred Hutchinson Center for Cancer Research showed that participants (all middle-aged adults) in who practiced yoga once a week lost an average of three more pounds over the course of the four-year study versus those who practiced other forms of exercise.
Age-related cognitive decline is one of the things many people dread the most about getting older. But new research offers hope that yoga is able to help defend against neurodegenerative conditions as well.
A study performed by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) found that yoga can actually help protect cognitive performance.
The study involved 29 middle-aged individuals who had all been diagnosed with cognitive impairments consistent with precursors to neurological conditions which can eventually lead to dementia. At the beginning of the three-month study, both groups took part in special brain scans that measure how effectively different areas of the brain communicate and took special tests designed to measure mental performance.
The adults were divided into two groups: One was instructed to perform regular brain-training tests and mental exercises 15 minutes per day. These programs are designed to strengthen memory. The other group took part in kundalini yoga lessons for one hour each week, as well as meditation.
After 12 weeks, both groups received brain scans again, and took the tests a second time. The results showed that both groups experienced improved scores, but the yoga group received higher scores in areas pertaining to language skills as well as visuospatial memory, which plays a part in how we perceive depth and recognize objects in our environment.
The evidence was clear: yoga can help keep your brain stronger and more effective, even in people already afflicted with a mild cognitive impairment.
READ ALSO: Easy Yoga For Complete Beginners Video
Yoga is an excellent addition to anyone’s lifestyle. If more demanding forms of exercise like cardio or weightlifting turn you off, yoga is a great choice. Its low impact nature and ability to build strength and flexibility make it a good option for those who might feel they are too out of shape to do “normal” exercises. Look into a yoga class at your local gym or community center today, and experience the difference!