I’m a huge fan of yoga. I do it all the time. I want to convince you that doing yoga might be one of the most powerful tools in your brain health arsenal. Doing yoga has several direct benefits for your brain and physiological well being. Let’s explore the 4 yoga brain health connections:
1. Yoga boosts levels of BDNFBrain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is a protein that has so many benefits to the brain. I talk about BDNF all the time, because I think it’s so important for maintaining and improving our brain health. This amazing protein has been called “Miracle Gro for the brain” by doctors and researchers, because it not only supports the survival of existing neurons, but also encourages the growth and differentiation of new ones as well. BDNF helps the parts of your brain that control critical functions like memory, emotion and executive function. When your BDNF levels are low, your brain function will decline. On the other hand, higher levels of BDNF have been associated with a lower risk of dementia and even depression. Yoga has been shown to actually boost BDNF. So, doing yoga will not only help keep you toned and relaxed, but yoga can help improve your memory and your mood!
2. Yoga boosts serotoninSerotonin is a neurotransmitter very much involved in your mood: the way you think about the world and even yourself. Serotonin helps with mood balance, and low levels of this important neurotransmitter can lead to depression. You might already be familiar with serotonin, because there are lots of antidepressant drugs on the market which essentially increase levels of serotonin on the brain. But you can actually boost your serotonin without taking drugs. Yes, that’s right, yoga is a natural way to increase your serotonin and help uplift your spirits.
3.Yoga protects your gray matter Gray matter is a major component of our central nervous system that is involved in memory and speech. We all lose some gray matter volume as we age. This is an unfortunate truth, but it’s not inevitable. Luckily, you can actually protect your gray matter by doing exercise. Yoga has been studied for its positive effect on protecting gray matter. Recently, a recent study looked specifically at yoga and found that controls in the study displayed the well documented age related gray matter decline, while yogis did not, suggesting that “yoga contributes to protect the brain against age related decline.” How amazing is that!
4. Yoga enhances brain function
A recent study showed that just by doing one single 20 minute yoga session you can actually improve the function of your brain. Researchers reported that a single 20 minute session of hatha yoga significantly increased the ability to maintain focus and take in, retain and use new information. So try doing yoga before a test or before a job interview. You might pleasantly surprised how much better yoga will help you focus and concentrate on your work.
Yoga has so many benefits for your brain, body, and soul! I hope you will grab a yoga mat and give it a try!
Want to learn more about meditation? Check out Optimal Health for a Vibrant Life: A 30-Day Program to Detoxify and Replenish Body and Mind.
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