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Yoga improves brain health and function

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

Story at-a-glance -

  • Yoga can help lower stress, stave off cognitive decline by strengthening brain regions involved in working memory, improve overall brain function and neuroplasticity, reduce body image dissatisfaction and anxiety, and much more
  • Evidence suggests yoga can have an effect similar to antidepressants and psychotherapy, reducing anxiety and aggression by influencing neurotransmitters and boosting serotonin
  • Research shows experienced yoga practitioners have greater gray matter volume in several brain regions compared to matched controls, suggesting it has neuroprotective effects
  • Older individuals participating in 12 weeks of Kundalini yoga experienced statistically significant improvement in depression and visuospatial memory
  • Yoga can also be a valuable aid in healing childhood trauma and sexual violations, and has been found to help college-aged women struggling with body-image dissatisfaction to develop healthier relationships with their bodies

Low impact exercises such as yoga have a number of benefits. Not only can it provide the physical benefits of exercise, yoga may also help lower stress, stave off cognitive decline by strengthening brain regions involved in working memory, improve overall brain function and neuroplasticity, reduce body image dissatisfaction and anxiety, and much more.

Mindful breathing exercises have many similar effects as well. Yoga can be viewed as a form of moving meditation that demands your full attention as you gently shift your body from one asana (yoga position) to another. As you learn new ways of moving, breathing and responding to your body’s cues, your mind and emotions start to shift as well.


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