Hatha Yoga and Meditation Improves Brain Function, Increases Energy, Study Finds
A new study from Canada’s University of Waterloo finds that practicing short sessions of Hatha yoga or meditation (just 25 minutes per day) may substantially improve brain function and increase energy.
Moreover, these practices can boost the executive functions of the brain, increase cognitive abilities associated with goal-directed behavior, and enhance the brain’s ability to control impulsive emotional responses, habitual thinking, and action.
In the study, which was recently published in the journal Mindfulness, more than 30 subjects participated in 25 minutes of Hatha yoga, 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation, and 25 minutes of reading as a control task.
After both the meditation and Hatha yoga, subjects exhibited significantly better performance on executive function activities when compared to those who participated in the quiet reading task.
Kimberley Luu, lead author, as reported by Eurekalert:
“This finding suggests that there may be something special about meditation — as opposed to the physical posing — that carries a lot of the cognitive benefits of yoga.”
Also, the research revealed that meditation and yoga both increased energy levels, and that Hatha yoga had was significantly more effective than mindfulness meditation alone.
Peter Hall, associate professor in the School of Public Health & Health Systems, as reported by Eurekaalert noted that while the “meditative aspect might be even more important than the physical posing for improving executive functions” that “there are additional benefits to Hatha yoga including improvements in flexibility and strength.”
Hatha yoga is among the most common types of yoga practiced in the West. It is characterized by physical postures, breathing exercises, and mindfulness meditation, which involves the observation of thoughts, emotions, feeling, and bodily sensations with acceptance and neutrality.
According to YogaJournal:
The word “hatha” can be translated two ways: as “willful” or “forceful,” or the yoga of activity, and as “sun” (ha) and “moon” (tha), the yoga of balance.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology