Tuesday January 28, 2020

Yoga as Good as Aerobic Exercise for Super Brain Health

Yoga helps people with or without anxiety disorders manage their stress

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Yoga
Yoga can lower your back pain and treat your insomnia as well. Pixabay

If you do not like or cannot perform aerobic exercise for some reason, try yoga to improve brain health as scientists led by Indian-origin Neha Gothe have found evidence that yoga enhances many of the same brain structures and functions that benefit from aerobic exercise.

The findings are based on a review focused on 11 studies of the relationship between yoga practice and brain health.

Five of the studies engaged individuals with no background in yoga practice in one or more yoga sessions per week over a period of 10-24 weeks, comparing brain health at the beginning and end of the intervention.

The other studies measured brain differences between individuals who regularly practice yoga and those who don’t.

Each of the studies used brain-imaging techniques such as MRI and all involved Hatha yoga, which includes body movements, meditation and breathing exercises, said the team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“From these 11 studies, we identified some brain regions that consistently come up, and they are surprisingly not very different from what we see with exercise research,” said Gothe, University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Neha who led the research with Wayne State University psychology professor Jessica Damoiseaux.

“For example, we see increases in the volume of the hippocampus with yoga practice,” she added.

Many studies looking at the brain effects of aerobic exercise have shown a similar increase in hippocampus size over time.

Space object, Human Being, Deep Meditation
As soon as you start doing asanas, you’ll know what the fuss is all about! Pixabay

The hippocampus is involved in memory processing and is known to shrink with age.

“It is also the structure that is first affected in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Gothe in a paper published in the journal Brain Plasticity.

Though many of the studies are exploratory and not conclusive, the research points to other important brain changes associated with regular yoga practice, Damoiseaux said.

The amygdala, a brain structure that contributes to emotional regulation, tends to be larger in yoga practitioners than in their peers who do not practice yoga.

The prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex and brain networks such as the default mode network also tend to be larger or more efficient in those who regularly practice yoga.

“The prefrontal cortex, a brain region just behind the forehead, is essential to planning, decision-making, multitasking, thinking about your options and picking the right option,” Damoiseaux noted.

“The default mode network is a set of brain regions involved in thinking about the self, planning and memory”.

The studies also find that the brain changes seen in individuals practicing yoga are associated with better performance on cognitive tests or measures of emotional regulation.

The discovery that yoga may have similar effects on the brain to aerobic exercise is intriguing and warrants more study, said researchers.

Yoga is an antidote to the fast pace of today’s technology. Pixabay

“Yoga is not aerobic in nature, so there must be other mechanisms leading to these brain changes,” she said. “So far, we don’t have the evidence to identify what those mechanisms are.”

Enhancing emotional regulation is a key to yoga’s positive effects on the brain.

“In one of my previous studies, we were looking at how yoga changes the cortisol stress response,” Gothe said.

Also Read: Here’s What 1.1 mn Children Learn About Santa Claus From Google Every Year

“We found that those who had done yoga for eight weeks had an attenuated cortisol response to stress that was associated with better performance on tests of decision-making, task-switching and attention.”

Yoga helps people with or without anxiety disorders manage their stress.

“The practice of yoga helps improve emotional regulation to reduce stress, anxiety and depression,” she said. (IANS)

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Guide Yourself on a Path of Self-Discovery this New Year

This new year, discover a new you

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Inner self
It's time for some to nourish your inner self. Pixabay

BY PUJA GUPTA

After back-to-back celebrations of Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year, the need for a tranquil haven to pamper, nourish, detoxify and recharge is a must.

Take a short break and head over to any of these places listed below if your are a wellness seeker and want to unwind your free spirit. Shoba Mohan, founder of RARE India, suggests a multitude of options for those who seek a road map to guide them on a path of self-discovery.

Meditation can help you in self-discovery. Pixabay

Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra, Kovalam, Kerala

Recognized as one of the Best Ayurveda Resorts in India, it is a perfect getaway to refresh mind, body and soul. The Ayurveda resort is perched on a cliff-edge, flanked by secluded beaches and dotted with traditional Keralite heritage cottages. Keeping with the central holistic principle of Ayurveda, Niraamaya Spa creates a place of harmony and aesthetics that restores natural balance. It also presents a bouquet of wellness offerings including Ayurvedic therapies, Yoga, Meditation and Pranayama, which provide a complete spiritual experience coupled with luxury.

Shreyas Yoga Retreat, Bengaluru, Karnataka

Situated at just one hour’s drive away from the Bengaluru International Airport, Shreyas Yoga Retreat is a sprawling oasis with over 12 cottages spread over 25 acres of greenery, water bodies and organic gardens. Guests here are able to commune with nature and experience its healing powers. Dedicated to promote authentic spiritual tradition of Yoga in a holistic manner, Shreyas is one of the world’s finest Yoga retreats, where Yoga is taught in traditional ashram style with daily yoga and meditation sessions, chanting classes, gourmet vegetarian cuisine, etc.

Anahata Retreat, Goa

Unwind your free spirit at Anahata Retreat in Goa, which offers elegant and eco-friendly accommodation and an open-air yoga studio with spectacular sea view. Twice daily yoga classes are programmed during the season, with varying type of yoga sessions. From Hatha Yoga to Vinyasa Yoga to Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra, there are Yoga Classes for all levels only 50 meters from a silver sand palm-fringed beach.

Yoga self
Yoga can help in self-rejuvenation. Pixabay

Kathiwada Raaj Mahal, Madhya Pradesh

Walk away from the city chaos and reminiscence an era gone by at the Kathiwada Raaj Mahal in Juna Kathiwada of Madhya Pradesh. Open to discerning wellness seekers, the potent energy field, zero-pollution and complete silence make this property an ideal location for yoga and meditation. Moreover, the magical forests of Kathiwada lure you to take a guided trek into the dense jungles abound with indigenous trees.

Malabar Escape Purity Resort, Muhamma, Kerala

Purity is a magnificent lakefront villa hotel in an outstanding location near the peaceful waters of lake Vembanad in Kerala. The art & culture, experiences & flavours as well as personalized Yoga & spa treatments help to connect with traditions of Kerala. Pure Spa at this resort gives a cocooning Ayurveda treatment experience, making it a complete relaxing and luxury affair!

Also Read- Meditation Can Help You To Become Less Error Prone 

The Lodge at Wah, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh

The Lodge at Wah is a natural, eco-friendly home that offers guests a wholesome experience for self-care. Cottages are made of local materials and are worked on by skilled craftsmen from the region. The beautiful mountains and surreal natural beauty, coupled with the incredible climate, demand that tourists spend time outdoors and push their limits. Paragliding, treks, stargazing and bird watching are some of the experiences that one can avail for self-rejuvenation. (IANS)