Yoga boosts brain power and concentration

Yoga is more beneficial in boosting memory and concentration than aerobic exercise, according to scientists.
And all it takes is just 20 minutes of daily Hatha yoga, which focuses on meditation, balance and breathing.

Neha Gothe, professor of kinesiology, health and sport studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, explained: ‘Yoga is an ancient Indian science and way of life that includes not only physical movements and postures but also regulated breathing and meditation.

In an experiment to compare Hatha yoga sessions with conventional treadmill exercise, the participants were asked to assume postures stood up, sat down and laid down, while keeping their breathing steady.The exercises also included isometric contractions of different muscles in the body, where the muscles are tensed and relaxed without moving any limbs.The exercises were followed by a meditation session, when participants focussed on posture and deep breathing.

Researchers also put the study participants through their paces on a treadmill for the same 20-minute period, keeping their heart rate up between 60 and 70 per cent of the maximum.

Those people who had been for a 20-minute jog were less able to focus mentally on tasks than they were following a yoga session.

Gothe said: “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.”

She added: “The breathing and meditative exercises aim at calming the mind and body and keeping distracting thoughts away while you focus on your body, posture or breath. Maybe these processes translate beyond yoga practice when you try to perform mental tasks or day-to-day activities.”