In a recent study, scientists have found indications that yoga stimulates many of the same vigorous exercise-enhancing brain structures and functions as aerobic exercises do. The results are based on a review of 11 studies linked to the practice of yoga and brain health. The data points to other significant brain changes correlated with regular yoga practice, although many of the findings are exploratory and not definitive. The other research examined brain differences between people who practice yoga regularly or on a daily basis and those who don’t. Every research utilized brain imaging methods such as MRI and all involved Hatha yoga, comprising of body movements, breathing exercises and meditation.
Several research studying aerobic exercise’s brain impact have shown a rise in hippocampus size over time close to the change in hippocampus volume with yoga practice. For yoga participants, the amygdala, a brain structure that leads to emotional regulation, appears to be greater than in peers who do not do yoga. In those who frequently practice yoga, the prefrontal cortex, the cingulate cortex and brain networks like the default mode network often tend to be larger or more effective. The findings also note that the brain changes seen in yoga students are correlated with improved performance on cognitive tests or emotional regulation interventions. Improving the regulation of emotions is a gateway to the positive effects of yoga on the brain. The finding that aerobic exercise can have related effects on the brain is interesting and needs further analysis, said the researchers.