The Many Benefits of Yoga for Brain Health

The Many Benefits of Yoga for Brain Health

elderly woman smiling with aide

For decades, yoga has been hailed as a vastly beneficial form of exercise, especially for seniors. It allows them to improve flexibility, balance, overall strength, and mood. This low impact form of exercise even helps ward off conditions like osteoporosis by keeping bones strong and healthy as well as alleviating many of the aches and pains commonly associated with aging. In addition to all of these incredible health benefits, studies have recently shown that yoga might also improve memory and slow cognitive decline.

The Relationship Between Yoga and the Brain

Yoga promotes the union between one’s mind, body, and spirit, as the name itself suggests. Yoga is a Sanskrit word, which means “to join” or “to unite.” Generally, individuals who practice yoga have a more calm and relaxed mind, resulting in a better attention span and memory. Seniors who incorporate yoga into their workout routine might be able to reap several benefits related to brain health and memory, which include:

  • Brain Function and Memory: Studies show that yoga can improve how quickly the brain is able to process information. In fact, it is as beneficial as brain games, which are also geared toward improving overall brain function. How is this possible? Yoga is believed to increase the production of a protein referred to as a brain-derived neuropath growth factor. This protein stimulates the growth of connections between the brain’s neurons.
  • Boosts One’s Mental Health: Yoga can have a similar effect on mental health as one might experience while using antidepressants or psychotherapy. Studies have shown that those who practice yoga regularly tend to report less depression and anxiety.
  • Reduced Stress Levels: The area in the brain that is used for memory and learning, which is known as the hippocampus, is vulnerable to high cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone and, when one suffers from high levels of it, he or she can experience hypertension, suppressed immunity, bone loss, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and many more unpleasant side effects. Yoga is a form of meditation, which exercises parts of the brain, managing stress levels and lowering cortisol levels that can compromise one’s ability to store memories or learn new things.

Social Benefits of Yoga

A key role in the overall health and well-being of a senior is the act of remaining socially active. Joining a yoga class can provide seniors with the social opportunities they need, adding another benefit to this mentally stimulating exercise. Yoga helps in the development of self-awareness and builds self-convidence. It also helps improve concentration and relieves stress.

If you are new to yoga, start by taking a beginner’s class that is intended for seniors. If you experience any discomfort, discuss it with the instructor and ask if the movements can be modified for your specific needs

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