People of all ages have been turning to yoga and meditation to limber their bodies and calm their minds. Both have both enjoyed a huge rise in popularity in the West, fueled in part by the many scientific studies trumpeting their benefits.
Now it appears that yoga limbers up the mind as effectively as it does the body. In fact, a study just published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease finds that when it comes to keeping memory sharp, yoga with a side of meditation may be superior to brain training programs designed to slow cognitive decline.
As the senior moments multiply, aging baby boomers have been flocking to brain training exercises to improve their memories.
The other half of the group worked on cognition and memory exercises that are known to help cognitive function (think Lumosity and similar programs).
All the people in the study had been experiencing lapses in memory in their daily lives, though none had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Their brains were scanned at the beginning and end of the 12-week study period, and they took tests to assess their thinking and memory skills, as well as other aspects of their mental health.
The participants in the yoga group also had better coping skills and were more resilient in the face of stress than the other group.
The habits and practices we take time for affect not only our physical fitness, but our mental and psychological fitness as well, as more and more research shows. Yoga and meditation have been around for thousands of years, and their benefits appear to be supported by science.
“Historically and anecdotally, yoga has been thought to be beneficial in aging well, but this is the scientific demonstration of that benefit,” said Harris Eyre, another researcher. “We're converting historical wisdom into the high level of evidence required for doctors to recommend therapy to their patients.”
“…[A] simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving your brain fitness.”
“If you or your relatives are trying to improve your memory or offset the risk for developing memory loss or dementia,” said Lavretsky, a professor at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, “regular practice of yoga and meditation could be a simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving your brain fitness.”