Thursday, 18 December 2014

How yoga helps boosts brain health

On the wellness blog, I will discuss a news report which claims there are five lifestyle factors that would help ward off dementia.

Please also see 

Here I look at the ways in which just 20 minutes of yoga a day can help boost brain health.  

  • Meditation is scientifically proven to produce positive changes in the brain.  With regular practice, the grey matter in the the prefrontal cortex increases.  This is associated with higher brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision making.  There is also a decrease in the area of the brain associated with stress.  The meditation practitioner learns to be focused, and make decisions more mindfully without emotional distractions.
  • Yoga poses may be varied in a number of ways depending on the creativity of the practitioner.  For instance in Half Lord of the Fishes pose we could twist the opposite way to the usual way, we could vary the arm position in Fierce Pose maybe to Eagle arms. When we do a different variation of a familiar pose, this engages the brain increasing concentration and focus.  A similar effect can be gained by taking an unfamiliar route to work etc
  • Yoga balances increase focus and concentration because they force us to be present in the moment.  The moment our attention wanders we fall out.  
  • Yoga chest openers for example backbends, bring more oxygen into the body.  This is then carried in the blood to all the body including the brain.  Amazingly, although the brain is only 2% of the total body weight, it uses 20% of the body's oxygen for its activities including growth and healing.
  • Yoga inversions carry fresh, oxygenated blood to the brain (see above).  Standing forward bends also have this effect.
  • Yoga poses that cross the midline, for example Eagle pose, Half Lord of the Fishes, strengthen the pathways between right and left hemispheres boosting alertness, creativity and memory.
  • Yoga cross-lateral poses such as Balancing Cat balance right and left hemispheres as does Alternate Nostril Breathing (see video)
  • It is said that yoga Thunderbolt pose directs energy to the brain to enable the practitioner to connect to the divine.

Janet x

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