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YOGA & THE BRAIN
Scientific Review published in Brain Plasticity
Studies of individuals new to yoga found significant changes in important brain regions related to memory, emotion regulation and attention.
Review of 11 published studies
10-24 weeks of yoga
Hatha yoga (body movement, meditation, breathing exercises)
11 studies (MRI, fMRI, single-photon emission CT)
increased volume hippocampus (memory)
larger prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex
better performance on cognitive tests
better emotion regulation
attenuated cortisol response to stress
better decision-making, attention, task-shifting
reduces stress, anxiety, depression
"The science is pointing to yoga being beneficial for healthy brain function, but we need more rigorous and well-controlled intervention studies to confirm these initial findings"
Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs)
77 articles (6410 participants)
Unique form of exercise, along with yoga: "meditative movement"
Qigong and Tai Chi focus on: body, breath, mind
Offspring of ancient healing and medical practices of Asia
Body posture, movement, breath practice, meditation
Qigong is simpler, easier to learn, more repetitive practice
163 physiological and psychological outcomes identified
Wide range of health benefits:
Improved bone density
Better cardiopulmonary fitness
Improved physical function
Fall prevention, better balance
Improved quality of life
reduced anxiety, depression
"A substantial number of RCTs have demonstrated consistent, positive results especially when the studies are designed with limited activity for controls. When both Tai Chi and Qigong are investigated together, as two approaches to a single category of pratcitce, meditative movement, the magnitude of the body of research is quite impressive."
These meditative movement exercises may be an attractive, accessible, effective exercise alternative for those at risk of preventable diseases, who are sedentary, or who are lacking motivation to engage in more conventional exercise.