Yoga, meditation good for brain: Study

Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation can improve brain function and energy levels

(Pixabay image)

NEW DELHI (Taiwan News) -- The practices of Hatha yoga (a common style of yoga practiced in Western countries) and mindfulness meditation can improve brain function and energy levels, a study has found.

Hatha yoga involves physical postures and breathing exercises combined with meditation. Mindfulness mediation involves observing thoughts, emotions and body sensations with openness and acceptance.

The study found that practicing just 25 minutes of Hatha yoga or mindfulness meditation per day can boost the brain's executive functions, cognitive abilities linked to goal-directed behavior and the ability to control knee-jerk emotional responses, habitual thinking patterns and actions, reports Press Trust of India.

"Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation both focus the brain's conscious processing power on a limited number of targets like breathing and posing, and also reduce processing of nonessential information," said Peter Hall, associate professor at University of Waterloo in Canada.

"These two functions might have some positive carryover effect in the near-term following the session, such that people are able to focus more easily on what they choose to attend to in everyday life," Hall said.

Thirty-one study participants completed 25 minutes of Hatha yoga, 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation, and 25 minutes of quiet reading (a control task) in randomised order.

Following both the yoga and meditation activities, participants performed significantly better on executive function tasks compared to the reading task.

"This finding suggests that there may be something special about meditation - as opposed to the physical posing - that carries a lot of the cognitive benefits of yoga," said Kimberley Luu, lead author of the study published in the journal Mindfulness.

The study also found that mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga were both effective for improving energy levels, but Hatha yoga had significantly more powerful effects than meditation alone, the report added.