Yoga not only helps you keep your weight in check but also helps maintaining your brain in its utmost health as well. A recent research has established that doing yoga regularly can help delay the ageing of your mind and prevent the cognitive decline in old age. When the researchers imaged elderly female yoga practitioner’s brains they found that people who practice yoga regularly have greater cortical thickness in the left prefrontal cortex, in brain areas responsible for cognitive functions like attention and memory.
When we grow old, the structure and functionality of our brain alters and eventually leads to cognitive decline, including lack of attention and memory. One such change in the brain involves the cerebral cortex getting thinner with time. The cerebral thickness is correlated with cognitive decline.
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So how can you reverse these changes?
The findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, suggest that the answer could lie in thoughtful practices like yoga and meditation.
"In the same way as muscles, the brain develops through training," explained one of the researchers, Elisa Kozasa of Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo, Brazil, involved in the study.
"Like any contemplative practice, yoga has a cognitive component in which attention and concentration are important," Kozasa added.
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The research team wanted to see if the elderly regular yoga practitioners had any difference in their brain structure as compared to those who never practiced yoga, of their similar age. They formed a small group of women yoga practitioners who have practiced yoga for at least twice a week for minimum eight years. The group had an average practice of 15 years of yoga practice.
The researchers compared the yoga practioners group with another group that consisted of healthy women who never practiced yoga or any other contemplative method, but are of near about similar age to that of Yoga women.
The researchers scanned the participants’ brain using MRI to strike the differences in brain structure.
The results were affirmative. Women who practiced yoga on regular basis had greater thickness in prefrontal cortex which accounts for cognitive functions like attention and memory.
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