Yoga is one of the few exercises that is applicable to a wide variety of the population. The principles behind yoga can be beneficial for both fitness and rehabilitation. With easy access to yoga instruction at health clubs and even online yoga has become a popular method of enhancing health.
One of the best parts about yoga is that all you need is your body (a yoga mat does help too!). Some yoga poses require instruction and a level of skill that develop over time, but many poses are beginner friendly. Recently, yoga has been studied to determine if it can enhance mindfulness and memory.
According to a study called A Yoga Program for Cognitive Enhancement (2017), yoga has shown promise towards enhancing working memory (WM). Brunner et al also looked at the implications of yoga’s WM enhancement for attentive mindfulness.
Furthermore, this intervention was considered a short term study where participants attended six sessions of yoga before conducting follow up testing. These numbers were collected using the Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale and several number and letter sequencing assessments.
What did the results show?
Following testing the participants showed increases in their WM capacity. This was shown through maintenance and manipulation areas of WM through Digit Span Forward and Backward assessments. Additionally, a Letter-Number Sequencing assessment measured the increase in WM abilities.
Mindfulness scores also increased, but the researchers did not determine a correlation between WM and mindfulness.
Where do we go from here?
Should we all sign up for a local yoga class in the very near future? Maybe, so!
But we also need to consider the larger impacts of a healthy lifestyle, training not only the body, but the mind too. Building an environment of healthy mind, body, and spirit is a more balanced and sustainable approach for long term health benefits.
Brain fitness in combination with traditional physical fitness programs are powerful tools to enhance mental skills and capacity. As the population ages, mental skills and mental capacity require maintenance in new ways. Cognitive training and physical training both have independent benefits as well as benefits that complement each other nicely.
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