If you haven’t already noticed, the world is going crazy over all things yogic. Whether it is a new boutique studio opening in your neighborhood or an Instagram feed filled with images of handstands and mat poses, the evidence of this “yoga trend” is everywhere.
As you discover more about how your brain works, you learn more about how to keep your brain healthy as you age. Yoga can positively impact numerous cognitive processes and help keep your brain sharp for years! This blog post will teach you five ways yoga impacts your brain health.
1. Build Up Your Brain-Healthy Behavioral Habits
Behavioral patterns are the things you do without thinking. Throughout your life, you build these behavioral patterns, whether by habit or choice. It is why behavioral practices are essential to keep an eye on as you age and your brain changes. They can either slow your mental decline or accelerate it. If you’re unsure where to start, try incorporating some activities into your life.
Hence one of the best things about yoga is that it can help you create a healthy behavioral pattern. The same can get said for yoga if you are trying to develop a healthier lifestyle and eating habits. You may notice that you crave more nutritious foods and beverages when you start a yoga practice. You may also find less desire for sugary foods or caffeinated beverages.
One of the reasons for this is that yoga encourages you to move more. When you move more, you naturally crave healthier foods and beverages because your body craves the nutrients it needs to function. Healthy eating habits go hand in hand with yoga practice.
More so, regular Exercise has endless benefits for your health. It increases blood flow to all body parts, including your brain. It also releases feel-good endorphins, supports your nervous system, and boosts your mood.
Furthermore, Yoga can also be a great way to increase regular exercise as well as decrease screen time. Yoga also helps you stay connected to others. Studies show that social connections can positively affect your brain health and help reduce your risk of aging-related chronic illnesses. Stay connected with friends, family, and neighbors to help support your mental health and well-being. Yoga is the way to go if you want to boost your brain function.
2. Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Another benefit of yoga is that it helps with stress and anxiety reduction. Studies have shown that regular yoga practice can significantly reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of anxiety.
Researchers have also concluded that yoga has many positive physiological effects, including a reduction in blood pressure, improved respiration, and an increase in the flow of blood to the brain. When you are less stressed and more at ease, it also helps to put your brain’s cognitive abilities on a healthier path.
One specific pose known to lower stress is the seated forward bend or Paschimottanasana. To do this pose, sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and your hands on your heels.
Once you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, move your hands to your shins or a block between your legs. Stay here for 5-10 breaths—a great way to calm down and reduce your stress and anxiety. Joining online yoga classes has many benefits to help calm the mind and body.
3. Encouragement of Neural Growth and Brain Development
There is evidence that regular yoga practice may increase the cerebral cortex in sensory and emotional awareness areas. It is believed to result from the increased release of neurotrophic factors that are secret during yoga practice. One specific pose that is beneficial for neural growth is Balasana or Child’s pose.
To do this pose, lay on your mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Rest your forehead on the floor and extend your arms out in front of you. Once you feel a stretch in your back and hips, rest here for 5-10 breaths.
4. Increase In Grey Matter Density
Another way yoga impacts your brain health is by increasing grey matter density or the number of neurons and glial cells in your cerebral cortex. It is the part of your brain responsible for processing information, sharing new experiences, and forming new memories. More grey matter density is associated with better cognitive function, so anything you can do to increase it is good! Regular yoga practice is shown to help increase grey matter density, which can help to make you smarter and more cognitively fit.
One specific pose that is great for increasing grey matter density is Ardha Matsyendrasana or Half Spinal Twist pose. Bring your right leg in and rest your right foot on the inner left thigh. Place your left foot behind you and on the floor. Twist your upper body to the right and rest your left hand on the floor behind you. Also, like the above poses, you can rest here for 5-10 breaths.
5. Incorporating Meditation with Movement
Another way that yoga can positively impact your brain health is by incorporating meditation with movement. Combining these two practices can slow down your breath and your thoughts. You can then apply this connection to your everyday life and make better decisions. One specific pose that is great for combining meditation with movement is Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon pose.
Yoga is not just about flexibility and strength—it’s about good health for the mind and body. It’s been shown to reduce stress, create a sense of calm, and increase cognitive function by building neural connections in the brain.
If you love the idea of yoga but aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry! It can also help you to live a longer, healthier life There are many yoga classes catering to all levels of experience. If you’re feeling nervous about trying a new class, remember that everyone else is probably just as worried as you are.
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