Facts about yoga and the brain

  • Yoga is not only good for our body, but it is also very healthy for our soul and our brain!
  • Yoga has united the mind, body and soul for over 2000 years.
  • Yoga is suitable for every age group.
  • In our article, you can find out which health benefits yoga has for our brain and which have already been scientifically proven!
Yoga can do a lot more than body strengthening and meditation. Scientists have known for decades that aerobic exercise strengthens the brain and helps new neurons grow. However, few studies have looked at how yoga affects the brain. Research finds evidence in reviews that yoga improves many of the same brain structures and functions that benefit from aerobic exercise. With the help of brain scans, scientists can now show that yoga actually changes your brain chemistry. 1 The best scientific evidence to date has shown how yoga changes your brain, positively affecting your effects on depression, anxiety and pain tolerance.

Introduction to Yoga

Yoga has its roots in ancient India, for over 2000 years yoga has united the mind, body and soul. The movements, meditation and breathing exercises have been taken up by many yoga schools and teach YOGA in a wide variety of areas. Yoga became popular in Western civilization in the late 20th century. Hatha yoga is one of the most popular styles of yoga. Yoga is suitable for everyone, regardless of whether they are people with restricted mobility, clinical diagnoses or the elderly. Older adults are the fastest-growing population in the world. By 2050, over 2 billion people are expected to be over 60 years old. 1In old age, Alzheimer's is one of the most common diseases affecting people aged 65 and over. That is why we have summarized the potential of various studies here to show effective treatments for curing the disease or treating its symptoms. Yoga can become an alternative form of physical activity.
In summary: Yoga is suitable for many people. For about 20 years there has been a rapid increase in and interest in yoga as more and more positive studies have been carried out on the effects of yoga on the body.

What are the mental benefits of yoga?

Let's start from the beginning, our brain consists of 60% white and 40% grey matter. Yoga can increase grey matter in the hippocampus and the frontal sections of your brain 2. Both are fundamentally important for healthy cognitive function. A decreased grey matter can lead to memory disorders, emotional problems, poor pain tolerance and decreased cognitive function. Gray matter stands for learning abilities (intelligence) and memory. But also the sense of sight, hearing, smell and touch, as well as muscle control are influenced here. The thicker the volume of gray matter in a region of your brain, the more cells there are and the more likely it is to perform better.
  • London taxi drivers with black cabs stand for the ability to know their way around the streets perfectly. These people have a higher volume of gray matter. 3
  • Compared to amateur singers, musicians have more gray mass that they have due to their years of musical training. 4th
The white matter in your brain is there to connect different areas of your brain together. You could compare it to the Internet, it sends and receives signals. The higher the proportion, the better you can coordinate thoughts and movements. Meditation with yoga can thus reduce the age-related effects on gray matter and cognitive decline as well. 5
In summary, yoga can improve a healthy gray matter in our brain. This substance is responsible for memory disorders and anxiety, for example.
Yoga Change Your Brain

Yoga is used to reduce stress and relax

The elements of yoga consist of poses (asanas), breathwork (pranayama) and meditation. The yoga component that is specifically related to your brain and for increasing the number of wrinkles in your brain belongs to the meditation aspect. 6thMeditation can significantly reduce stress after eight weeks of training. 7thOnce you have practised YOGA, you will have a positive feeling of relaxation and the mind-body connection. Yoga can help you reduce stress and anxiety. Meditators have low levels of the brain responsible for anxiety and depression. 8thDuring yoga, your brain releases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. All of these can reduce stress, anxiety and will calm you down. Did you know that yoga is a natural remedy for anxiety? As already mentioned, YOGA releases GABA, an active ingredient in the brain that ensures that you are not constantly agitated. GABA is the abbreviation for gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is also known as the body's “chill-out” neurotransmitter. Research shows that yoga increases your GABA levels by 27%. 9Another study found that yoga works even better than easy walking when you want to relax and reduce anxiety. 10 The chemicals like dopamine (feeling of pleasure) or happiness hormones like serotonin and endorphins make you feel happier after YOGA. While doing YOGA exercises, certain parts of the brain will slow down and allow you to recover. YOGA affects your stress response, which is why you can relax so well with YOGA. Stress can be good, it protects and leads to dangerous situations. Stress makes your heart beat faster and increases your blood pressure. Too much or too long stress is unhealthy. It can lead to serious conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or burnout. YOGA can help to counteract this. Yoga for only 12 minutes a day can lower the body's inflammatory response.11 Brain Plasticity magazine 12publishes a report analyzing 11 studies of yoga exercise and its effects on brain health. According to scientists, there may be indications that yoga exercises improve brain function. The yoga sessions were reviewed several times a week over a period of 10-24 weeks. All study participants had an MRI before and after the intervention, and people who did not do yoga were also examined. All of the subjects performed hatha yoga. Hatha stands for body movements, meditation and breathing exercises. In an interview, Gothe, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Illinois, said: "For example, with yoga we see an increase in the volume of the hippocampus". Many studies looking at the effects of aerobic exercise on the brain have shown a similar increase in hippocampus size over time, she said. The name "hippocampus" refers to a part of the brain that is responsible for memory processing. Further results showed a clear advantage of those who practised YOGA, they had better cognitive brain performance. Yoga is beneficial for healthy brain function, but more and better studies are needed to confirm these initial results, Gothe said.
In summary: Yoga has a positive effect on stress activity and happiness hormones. After yoga, you will feel happier, give it a try.

Yoga for anxiety

Do you suffer from anxiety, restlessness, slight fright, difficulty concentrating and often sleep disorders? Have you ever tried to alleviate this with YOGA? As mentioned earlier, yoga improves the gray matter in the brain. Your brain has amygdala, this is where all messages flow together in the brain, it receives and sends this to your body. This is where fear and its emotions play itself again, it ensures that you become fearful or nervous as soon as a problem or danger arises. YOGA can reduce the gray matter in the amygdala so there is less activity. This allows you to deal better with your emotions and at the same time you are more relaxed.
In summary: Yoga can alleviate anxiety or difficulty concentrating.

A short exercise for the office: the breathing brake

Sit up straight in your office chair. Place your left hand loosely on your thigh. Bend your right arm. Alternately place the thumb of this hand on the right nostril, the little finger on the left nostril. Close your eyes if you want. Now first close the left nostril, hold your breath briefly and breathe it in and out completely on the other side. Repeat the same with the other nostril. You can do these exercises for 1-2 minutes.