What Yoga Does to Your Brain

A woman leaning forward to stretch her legs on a yoga mat
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

Scientists have been telling us for years how beneficial yoga is for our mental and physical health, but what does yoga actually do to our brain to achieve these benefits?

A new analysis that looked at how yoga may physically change brain structures offers promising evidence that regularly doing this popular mind-body practice may help reduce age-related mental decline.

Five of the studies looked at brain changes that occurred in people who had never practiced yoga and then began doing it regularly, while the other studies measured brain differences between those who regularly do yoga and those who don’t.

To learn more about how to be mindful in stressful times, go to Staying Sharp’s Find Your Calm.

The researchers found that the changes in brain structure from doing yoga are similar to those that occur from doing aerobic exercise, such as walking or bicycling, even though yoga is not an aerobic exercise.

The studies the researchers analyzed also point to other important brain changes seen specifically in regular yoga practitioners. For example, the amygdala, a brain structure that helps with controlling our emotions, tends to be larger in those who regularly do yoga compared with those who don’t.

To learn more about yoga’s brain benefits, read the full article about this study, What Yoga Does to Your Brain.

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

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