Yoga and Meditation Are Good for the Brain

Work & Family Life, October 2016 | Go to article overview

Yoga and Meditation Are Good for the Brain


Previous studies have shown that people who run, dance, bike, garden, do tai chi or weight-train regularly have a lower risk of developing dementia than those who are physically inactive. Now, UCLA researchers are saying that a weekly routine of yoga and meditation can also help strengthen our thinking skills and stave off the normal mental decline that comes with aging.

"Emerging science suggests that we might be able to slow and mitigate the decline by how we live and, in particular, whether and how we move our bodies," writes Well columnist Gretchen Reynolds in The New York Times.

The UCLA study, reported in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, began by recruiting a group of middle-aged and older adults who expressed concern about the state of their memories and, during subsequent tests, were found to have some mild cognitive impairment.

The volunteers were each given a type of brain scan that tracks how different parts of the brain communicate with each other. Then they were divided into two groups.

One group took part in a braintraining program that included one hour of classroom time weekly and mental exercises the participants were asked to practice at home for 15 minutes every day.

The other group learned Kundalini yoga, a relatively easy form that involves breathing exercises, movement and poses. They were also taught Kirtan Kriya, a type of meditation that involves repeating a series of sounds (a mantra) and hand movements. …

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