How Yoga and Meditation Improve Brain Function and Energy Levels
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Yoga is an ancient practice that has become very popular today as a retreat from hectic schedules and chronic stress. It touts numerous benefits, both mental and physical. A new study out of the University of Waterloo has found that practicing just 25 minutes of Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation can significantly improve brain function and energy levels.
Peter Hall, associate professor in the School of Public Health & Health Systems, explains, “Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation both focus the brain’s conscious processing power on a limited number of targets like breathing and posing, and also reduce processing of nonessential information. These two functions might have some positive carryover effect in the near-term following the session, such that people are able to focus more easily on what they choose to attend to in everyday life.”
Hatha yoga is one of the most common styles of yoga practiced in Western countries. It involved physical postures and breathing exercising combined with meditation. Mindfulness meditation involves observing thoughts, emotions and body sensations with openness and acceptance.
Thirty-one study participants completed 25 minutes of Hatha yoga, 25 minutes of mindfulness mediation, and 25 minutes of quiet reading in randomized order. Following both the yoga and meditation activities, participants performed significantly better on executive function tasks compared to the reading tasks. The study also found that mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga were both effective for improving energy levels.