We've long known that yoga can do wonders for your health and well-being. A new study suggests a 20-minute yoga workout can improve your memory and other brain functions even better than aerobic exercise.
Photo by Tom Mooring
Researchers from the University of Illinois recruited 30 undergraduate women to participate in a 20-minute yoga session involving seated, standing and floor postures, as well as a deep breathing and meditative pose at the end. They also walked or jogged on a treadmill for 20 minutes to 60-70 per cent maximum heartrate.
The results revealed that immediately after doing yoga, the participants showed significant improvement on cognitive tests evaluating their reaction times, accuracy and memory. Surprisingly, there were no significant improvements from the aerobic exercise directly afterwards.
It's possible that yoga's emphasis on centering, awareness, and focus are behind that immediate brainpower boost. Whatever the reason, the takeaway is if you have a big test or other mentally-challenging task ahead of you, try doing some downward dogs and warrior poses (or your preferred yoga workout) beforehand.