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How Yoga Changes Your Brain And Mental Health Tremendously

How Yoga Changes Your Brain And Mental Health Tremendously

If you are a yoga fan, you are probably well aware of how many physical benefits this practice can bring. Studies in the past have shown that yoga can help with weight loss, muscle building and toning, joint flexibility and health and even chronic painful conditions like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. But did you know how much this ancient practice could also improve your mental health and abilities? A recent study of adults with mild memory loss showed just how healthy yoga is for your brain.

The Study and What it Found

Researchers, well aware of the physical benefits of yoga, sought to understand more about the mental/cognitive benefits of this exercise regimen. In order to do this, they recruited a group of middle-aged and older volunteers who had, upon interviewing, expressed concerns about their memories and had in fact been diagnosed with a mild form of cognitive decline, a condition that can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. These conditions, if they worsen, can have a serious and negative impact on a patient’s quality of life.

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The researchers did a brain scan on all patients in order to establish a baseline for their mental activity/function. They then divided participants into two separate groups, one which received a one hour brain training session plus fifteen minutes of practice daily while the other received a one hour kundalini yoga session with fifteen minutes of at-home practice daily (in other words, both groups spent the same amount of time with these interventions each week).

At the end of this three month study, all the participants were given a brain scan again to see if the interventions had had any affect on their cognitive health. It was found that both groups of patients had experienced cognitive improvement in areas of the brain that affect memory and language skills. However, the group which participated in yoga also displayed improvement in areas of the brain which control concentration and attention; in other words, the yoga group also came out of this study with enhanced ability to focus and multitask, showing that yoga was superior to the brain training program to improve mental functions.

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“We were a bit surprised by the magnitude of the brain effects,” noted Helen Lavretsky, the lead researcher in this study, when commenting upon the results.

The Study in Context

What is perhaps one of the most interesting parts of this study is that it does not stand alone. It is, rather, part of the growing body of evidence which shows that yoga’s mental/cognitive benefits may well equal or even exceed its physical ones.

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In the past, for instance, similar clinical studies on yoga have found a positive link between this practice and depression and anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even serious psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. One study even found that this seemingly mild, gentle practice was actually better than aerobics at improving brain functions such as speed and accuracy of mental processing.

In short, this study on patients with mild cognitive decline is simply part of a growing body of clinical evidence which shows that yoga, in addition to improving the health of the body, is able to improve the health of the mind as well, not only for problems like memory loss but for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, ADHD and even more serious issues like schizophrenia. In short, this practice is a truly holistic method to improve all aspects of your health, apart from bringing a high degree of enjoyment and satisfaction to those who participated in it on the daily basis.

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Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

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Brian Wu

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Published on June 7, 2019

10 Lower Body Workouts Anyone Can Try at Home

10 Lower Body Workouts Anyone Can Try at Home

Having a hard time going to the gym? Fear no more!

In this article, we’ll be breaking down 10 in home lower body workouts anyone can try at home and their exercises. No gear needed for these workouts, just some space and a cup water waiting for your disposal.

There’re 3 main parts in this article:

If you’re familiar with the basic lower body exercises, just get into the first section 10 Lower Body Workouts That Can Be Done Anywhere right away.

If you want more guidance on the basics, check out the second section Lower Body Exercises Breakdown.

And the last section is about what you should do before and after working out.

10 Lower Body Workouts That Can Be Done Anywhere

If you’re familiar with the basic lower body exercises, just read on this section.

If you’d like to have more guidance on each exercise listed in these 10 workouts, take a look at the following part Lower Body Exercises Breakdown.

1. The Starter Workout

3 sets of 8-12 reps of:

  • Squat
  • Single Leg Deadlift
  • Glute Bridge

(30 sec to 2 min rest in between each set)

2. The 7 Minute Workout

3 rounds of 30 seconds of each exercise:

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  • Walking Lunges
  • Quarter Squat
  • Step Up
  • Single Leg Deadlift

(1 min rest in between each round)

3. The Unilateral Workout

4 sets of 16 reps of:

  • Reverse Lunges
  • Single Leg Deadlift
  • Skater Squat
  • Single Leg Glute Bridge

(30 sec to 1 min rest in between each set)

4. The Endurance Workout

2 sets of 20-50 reps of:

  • Squat
  • Walking Lunge
  • Single Leg Deadlift
  • Glute Bridge

(1-2 min rest in between each set)

5. The Back To Back Lower Body Workout

5 rounds of 10 to 20 seconds of each exercise:

  • Skater Squat
  • Step Up
  • Single Leg Deadlift
  • Single Leg Glute Bridge
  • Quarter Squat

(30 min rest in between each round)

6. Strength Lower Body Workout

5 to 10 sets of 4 reps of:

  • Walking Lunge
  • Single Leg Deadlift
  • Squat

(30 sec to 2 mins of rest time in between set)

7. Glute Burner Workout

4 sets of 10-30 reps of:

  • Walking Lunge
  • Single Leg Deadlift
  • Single Leg Glute Bridge
  • Quarter Squat

(1 min of rest time in between set)

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8. The Advance Lower Body Workout

3 rounds of 20 seconds of:

  • Squat
  • Walking Lunge
  • Skater Squat
  • Reverse Lunge
  • Glute Bridge
  • Single Leg Deadlift

(2 mins of rest time in between set)

9. The Quick Lower Body Workout

2 sets of 10 reps of:

  • Reverse Lunge
  • Step Up
  • Single Leg Deadlift

10. The 100 Repetition Challenge

2 sets of 50 reps on each leg of:

  • Walking Lunge
  • Single Leg Deadlift

(4 mins of rest time in between set)

Lower Body Exercises Breakdown

Here’s the breakdown of the lower body exercises[1] that you found in the workouts listed in the first section of this article.

1. Squat

    A squat is a compound movement which entails the recruitment of a majority of your lower body (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, spinal erectors).

    How to squat:

    Feet shoulder width apart or a little wider. Toes pointed slightly out, arms out in front of you. Sit into your heels till you hit parallel with your butt and knee, drive through the heels, return to starting position and repeat.

    2. Walking Lunges

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      A lunge is a complex movement which recruits mainly the lower body.

      The walking lunges are a harder version of a split squat which is stationary and then adds the component of stepping and keeping balance which engages the gluteus medius as well as allowing a larger range of motion.

      3. Reverse Lunge

        A reverse lunge is very similar to the split squat but instead, after every rep, you are returning to the starting position and stepping back.

        By reverse stepping, you are allowing for a better emphasis on the hamstrings and gluteal muscles as opposed to the quadriceps muscles in a forward stepping lunge.

        4. Quarter Squat

          A quarter squat is the top ¼ movement of a squat. This will work mainly the gluteal muscles as it emphasizes the hip extension and not a lot of range of motion on the quadriceps muscles.

          5. Skater Squat

            A skater squat is a unilateral variation of the squat, this squat really engages the gluteus medius and hamstrings as it works unilateral stability and hip flexion which fires both the hamstrings and glutes.

            6. Step Up

              The Step Up is the greatest balance of getting the glutes and quadriceps muscles firing. Doing Step Ups will not only get the glutes going, but the quadriceps as well.

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              7. Glute Bridge

                Glute Bridges are a great way to nearly isolate the glutes and build a great butt. This entire movement works through hip extension which the main movement of the gluteal muscles.

                8. Single Leg Glute Bridge

                  Single leg glute bridge ensures that we are evenly building the glutes and not relying too heavily on our dominant leg and symmetrical butt. The step up can be done in a chair or a step in the stairs

                  9. Single Leg Deadlift

                    Single Leg RDL’s engage that entire booty and hamstrings, especially the gluteus medius due to its unilateral stability property. This is a great way to spice up some routine deadlifts.

                    Before & After Working Out

                    Before engaging in any physical activity, consult a doctor if you have not worked out in years. However, if you want to go at it without consulting a doctor, start slow and build your way up. Even though it’s home workout, use dynamic stretching or some light jogging[2] as a warm up before starting the lower body workouts.

                    Finally, at the end of the lower body workout, use static stretching to reduce injuries and to calm down your heart rate gradually.

                    Featured photo credit: Gesina Kunkel via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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