If you’re already a yogi, it’s probably pretty clear that yoga can make you feel a lot of different (and really positive) things. But scientific research actually tells us that yoga can really—and clearly—affect the brain in amazing ways.

This article published by Brain Plasticity in late 2019 reviewed 11 studies that looked into the effects of a regular yoga practice on the brain. They used different imaging software like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and functional MRI (FMRI) to take a look at the brains of practitioners versus non-practitioners when they practiced physical postures, breathwork, and meditation, to really understand what goes on in there. And the results are pretty exciting.

What happens to the brain on yoga?

The study shows us that practicing yoga can have concrete effects on the hippocampus—your brain’s memory centre—and in the volume of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex—both associated with brain function, learning, and emotions.

These areas of the brain are known to change as we get older, and findings tell us that a yoga practice can significantly mitigate these age-related losses and support positive cognitive function as we age.

Of course, one of the most common effects of a regular yoga practice is on mental health, and the study highlights the connection between the practice and reduced anxiety, stress, and depression. They even go on to say that, concerning the psychological health of patients with cancer, “the yoga groups showed significantly greater improvements in psychological health, as indicated by anxiety, depression, distress, and stress levels, when compared with the waitlist or supportive groups.

The research is in it’s infancy, really, and researchers tell us more work needs to be done to understand these links between yoga and neurobiological changes. What we can rely on, though, is the continuing positive impact yoga is proving to have on our bodies, brains, and entire lives.

The article summarises by stating, “We hope this review can offer the preliminary groundwork … as we move toward advancing the neuroscience of yoga.”

What more motivation do you need to get on your mat today? Try the class below from The Yoga Revolution’s YouTube library to help you breath, move, and fire up the feel-good energies. And make sure to join our inner circle for more free classes, resources, and inspiration for a joyful life.

Chloe - TYR Founder & Joyful Living Coach

POSTED: 13/11/2023

Chloe is a yoga teacher, mindfulness guide, and joyful living coach, and she thinks the meaning of life is probably to be as happy as possible.

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