If you feel like yoga clears your mind and improves your attention, you’re not imagining it.
A new study, published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, shows that a 20-minute yoga session can improve brain function immediately following a class.
The study participants, 30 female college students, were asked to complete three testing sessions: Yoga, aerobic, and baseline.
Their cognitive performance was tested after each session – specifically the brain functions associated with focus and memory.
‘It appears that following yoga practice, the participants were better able to focus their mental resources, process information quickly, more accurately and also learn, hold and update pieces of information more effectively than after performing an aerobic exercise bout,’ lead author Neha Gothe said in a press release.
Why does yoga have this effect?
While the study didn’t look at the reason, Gothe says it could be a number of things: Better self awareness, a calmer (and therefore clearer) mind, or a reduction in stress.
“Meditation and breathing exercises are known to reduce anxiety and stress, which in turn can improve scores on some cognitive tests,’ she said.
Do you find that your mind is clearer and more sharp after yoga? Share your yoga stories in the comments below.
-Katharine Watts, associate web editor