Can Yoga Affect Mental Health? April 8, 2019 Fitness, Health A-Z If you practice yoga, you are probably aware of how positive the results can bring to your body. Studies have shown that yoga can help in slimming, muscle building and shaping, joint mobility and chronic pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis. But did you know that this ancient practitioner can also improve your mental health and ability? A recent Miami-led research conducted by H. Lavretsky in adults who suffered from mild memory impairment has shown how healthy yoga can be for the human brain. Results of the study Researchers, who were well aware of the physical benefits of yoga, tried to understand what mental or cognitive benefits this exercise had. The study was conducted on a group of middle and senior age volunteers who experienced a worsening of memory and were actually diagnosed with mild worsening of cognitive function, a condition that may be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Scientists have analyzed the brains of all participants to determine the basal level of their mental functions. They then divided the participants into two separate groups. The first one, in addition to an hour of brain training session, had to practice similar tasks on the subject for fifteen minutes at home, while the other group had an hour of Kundalini yoga exercises and fifteen minutes of exercises every day at home. (Both groups have therefore spent the same time in practice). Three months later, the brain activity of all volunteers was again analyzed to detect any change due to previous intervention. Both groups of patients have been found to experience improvements in brain areas that affect memory and language skills. However, the group involved in yoga exercises also showed improvements in areas of the brain where concentration and attention are concentrated. In other words, these individuals also had a higher ability to concentrate, indicating that yoga had a greater impact on mental performance than the brain training program. Study in Context Interesting in this study is that it is not the only one. It is part of a growing body of evidence that yoga has, in addition to physical and mental benefits. In the past, similar clinical trials have shown a positive relationship between exercise and depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post traumatic stress disorder, and even serious psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. One study even confirmed that this seemingly simple and mild practice is more effective for improving brain function than, for example, aerobics. In short, there is more and more evidence that yoga, besides physical fitness, is also able to positively influence the state of mind, not only in memory failure but also in mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, or schizophrenia. This exercise is therefore a comprehensive way to improve all aspects of health and to bring joy and satisfaction to those who deal with it on a daily basis.