5. Yoga for concentration and memory
Just one 20-minute Hatha yoga session has been shown to improve accuracy and speed on tests of inhibitory control and working memory, two measures of brain function responsible for the capability of remaining focused and absorbing as well as retaining information. The participants of this study performed better on the tests after yoga practice in comparison to after an aerobic exercise session.
The yoga session entailed a 20 minute progression of standing, seated and supine yoga postures which included isometric contraction and relaxation of various muscle groups as well as controlled breathing. The session ended with deep breathing and a meditative posture. Individuals also performed an aerobic exercise workout in which they jogged or walked on a treadmill for 20 minutes. Every individual exercised at an appropriate incline and speed of the treadmill, with the objective of maintaining 60 – 70% of their maximum heart rate during the exercise workout.
After yoga practice, the individuals were better able to process information quickly and more accurately, focus their mental resources, and also learn, keep and update bits of information better than after an aerobic exercise workout. The meditative and breathing exercises aim at keeping the body and mind calm and keep distracting thoughts away while focusing on the body, posture and breath.