UK Study: Yoga Makes You Smarter

New study shows yoga and meditation have a positive effect  on the brain and may assist in preventing the symptoms of early onset dementia (and make you smarter).

Yoga and meditation is fast becoming an effective way in helping to combat the mental decline that often precedes Alzheimer’s.

Previously, studies had shown crosswords had also been an effective tool in helping patients with memory loss.

But when scientists compared the crossword method with the yoga method, they found yoga and meditation had better results.

The scientists who conducted the studies compared both approaches in a group of around 25 volunteers, over the age of 55, who had reported certain memory issues like forgetting names and faces, missing appointments or misplacing belongings.

Eleven out of the 25 participants in the study received weekly hour-long memory training, which involved a range of crosswords and computer-based tasks, where the remaining 14 were given an hour-long yoga session once a week, along with 20 minutes-worth of Kirtan Kriya meditation every day.

Kirtan Kriya meditation; which involves chanting, hand movements and visualisation of light, has been used for hundreds of years in India to prevent mental decline in older adults. Which is why it was specifically chosen for this form of study in Alzheimer’s.

After 3 months, the scientists found, that although both methods used in combating pre-Alzheimer’s symptoms, like remembering names and words was successful, yoga provided far better results in visual-spatial memory.

Which is where you visually record information about an environment. For example, when navigating around a city in a car, or walking in a shopping centre.

Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK says, “ Exercise in general can bring important physical benefits as well as enjoyable social experiences, and has been linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

This small study suggest yoga may have an impact on brain function and mood in people with early memory problems, but it will need following up in a larger group over a longer period-of-time.

Rebecca Wilkinson

Rebecca is a pescatarian, who may yet one day become a vegan. She loves all things health & travel with a weakness for coffee, and is often found scouring the city for the latest tastes in breakfast smoothie bowls.

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