The brain is an intricate, mysterious and soft mass of nerve cells and supporting tissues.
Many scientific studies are devoted to it with an intent to reveal its secrets.
With the increasing popularity of yoga in the modern world, the scientific community has shown great interest in the study of the phenomenon of yoga and how yoga affects the brain.
Here are some conclusions that scientists came to:
- Yoga improves breathing (oxygenates the body) and movement (improves blood flow).
This effect is achieved mainly through pranayama techniques, which allows you to learn more about your breathing in practice, increase oxygen consumption, strengthen the lungs, the diaphragm, supply oxygen to the brain areas that are inaccessible with normal breathing.
The improvement in coordination and blood flow is done with the help of asanas (poses).
Also, during the inverted poses, blood flows to the head and the heart rate rises.
- Yoga promotes the growth of neural connections. Neurons (1) are brain cells that are responsible for transmitting signals from the brain to the body.
During the early stage of pregnancy, about 250 thousand neurons are formed in the brain every minute.
However, aside from the number of neurons in the body, a stable connection between them (especially for young children) is also important.
The brain of a baby up to three years old creates about a thousand trillion connections.
However, an adult can lose half of such connections from the time he is three years old.
This trend can be changed if you begin to strengthen your brain connections.
This can be done if you keep your brain active as often as possible, but it is not only about textbooks.
In yoga, some poses baffle us with their intricacy and complexity: the foot is placed here, the hand is twisted there, etc..
But all these attempts to understand and recreate each pose help us to create new neural connections.
And if you go beyond the limits of scientific research for a minute, then yoga helps a person to
look at the world with different eyes, open his mind to everything new, get rid of old patterns – all this is incredibly beneficial for our brain and its life-long activity.
- Yoga develops intuition. It is proved that people practicing yoga for about two years on a regular basis begin to trust themselves more, take responsibility for their actions and live exactly as they wish.
Often, when making decisions, they are guided by the inner voice and what is important.
Thus, they only benefit from yoga in the end.
American neuroscientists came to the conclusion that yoga greatly improves brain function and helps a person control his emotions.
This helps a person to not think about unnecessary information when performing other tasks as well.
The researchers conducted an experiment with 36 volunteers who had been practicing yoga for a long time.
After 30 minutes of exercise, they checked their cleverness.
The control group did not practice yoga, but peacefully read books in a cozy atmosphere. As the results showed, yoga lovers solved the tasks faster.
In a new study that involved 42 women over 60 years old was conducted in Brazil.
Half of participants engaged in yoga for at least 15 years.
Researchers scanned the brain of women and found that the prefrontal cortex was thicker among female yoga practitioners. Scientists also took into account factors that could affect the results.
As you know, the prefrontal cortex is associated with a number of important functions, such as planning, decision making and memory.
The thicker the prefrontal cortex in a person, the better his memory.
So, it is likely that yoga reduces the risk of memory problems as well as improves it. However, experts note: further research is needed.
It is extremely interesting that in addition to the familiar exercises for the development of intelligence – puzzles and logical tasks, solving logarithmic equations and memorizing new information – there are physical exercises which can improve brain activity.
Body and brain yoga is important not only for ordinary average people, but also for those suffering from such diseases as Down syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, autism.
One such exercise is offered by famous yogis – masters of meditation.
As they say, it’s enough to do this technique for a few minutes a day to stimulate the brain and experience yoga benefits for the brain.
In Hinduism, this amazing exercise is called “Thoppukaranam” (4), and it is associated with the symbolizing concentration of great intelligence and mind.
So, get acquainted: the so-called “Super Brain Yoga” (5) is an amazingly effective exercise that aims to “exercise” cells and increase the neural activity of the brain, improve memory and imagination.
And it is especially important that the exercise allows you to synchronize the left and right hemispheres.
This fantastic yoga for the brain stimulates neural connections by activating acupuncture points on the earlobes.
Just five minutes a day and you get a lot of positive and valuable bonuses.
In addition, the technique quickly and powerfully increases the intellectual potential, sharpens memory and concentration.
Yoga for the brain causes the energy of the lower energy centers (the so-called chakras) to rise to the crown chakra.
As a result, this energy is used by the brain to boost its functioning. Here is step by step instructions for completing this exercise:
- After waking up in the morning, prepare yourself for yoga – remove the jewelry, put on comfortable clothes, do a little warm-up.
If you have time, take a few minutes to purify your mind and meditate, relax, feel the energy of the awakening world.
- Stand in the starting position – straighten up, put your legs shoulder-width apart.
- Place and hold the tongue on the surface of the palate right behind the upper teeth.
- Take the lobe of your right ear with your fingers of your left hand, and your left lobe with your right hand.
The thumb should in front and the left hand should be closer to the chest.
Hands in this position get crossed.
- Holding this position, make a deep squat while slowly breathing in the air through the nose.
When your knees are fully bent, stay in this position for a second, not breathing, and then begin to slowly rise, while exhaling air.
- Repeat the exercise for two to five minutes.
Unfortunately, as many would have liked, one should not expect noticeable positive results after only a few, random, rather than regular, repetitions.
Remember that it is very important to follow the correct technique.
Take your time and do everything slowly, control every movement, every breath in and out.
A neurobiologist also adds that this exercise improves and strengthens the neural connections between the two hemispheres of the brain by stimulating the acupuncture points of the ears, which can be traced on the “before” and “after” electroencephalogram.
One of the parts of yoga – meditation, is of special interest to scientists.
Harvard scientists led by Sarah Lazar conducted a sensational study on meditation in 2011.
They were wondering if meditation restores brain cells.
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (7), Harvard researchers found that meditation affects changes in the gray matter of the brain.
The physical changes in the brain that meditation led to have been documented.
For this, scientists have collected test and control groups of subjects.
The first group, on average, practiced meditation for 27 minutes a day, and the second did not listen to the meditation records and did not practice it.
MRI scans of subjects from both groups were taken before and after the eight-week period.
When the course was over, the participants in the test group reported an improvement in attention: conscious actions and non-judgmental perceptions became frequent in their lives.
Indicators of the control group remained unchanged.
The study showed that:
- meditation restores brain cells
- increases the amount of gray matter
- allows the brain to slow down the response to stress
- improves concentration, learning and memory
- rejuvenates the brain.
In another American study, Pagnoni and Cekis for a long time compared the gray matter in the brain of 13 Zen meditators with a group of 13 people who had nothing to do with meditation.
Although the concentration of gray matter in the brain decreases with age, the density of the gray matter of Zen meditating people remained unchanged.
In conclusion, keep in mind that yoga at an older age can lead to problems if done unproperly.
Inexperienced people who decide to practice yoga often do not take the necessary precautions.
This may cause injury.
The risk of injury increases with age.
According to experts, before starting yoga classes, you should consult a doctor. In addition, you need to have an experienced instructor.
We wish you good luck and incredible intellectual abilities!