You probably know yoga is good for you, but you may not know how good. In a recently published study, researchers reviewed 11 different studies that compared subjects who practiced yoga with those who didn’t, to see what effect doing yoga might have on people’s brains. The results suggest that several brain areas benefit from yoga, including the areas that control decision-making and planning, those that control emotions, and those that control memory.
A team of researchers led by professor Neha Gothe of the University of Illinois and professor Jessica Damoiseaux from Wayne State university studied the studies. All the studies used brain scanning techniques such as MRIs or fMRIs to examine participants’ brains. Six of the studies compared people who regularly practiced Hatha yoga (the most commonly practiced form in the United States) with people who didn’t. But in the other five studies, all the participants started out as non-yogis, and then some began practicing once or twice a week for 10 to 24 weeks. Even that amount of yoga was enough to make some measurable differences to participants’ brain function.