Scientific research shows this is the best way to do yoga – especially if you want a healthier brain…
You probably already know how good yoga makes you feel, and you may even known some of the measurable health benefits that yoga can bring – both physically and mentally. But although even short and infrequent yoga sessions can provide some benefits, studies show that those benefits (especially the mental ones) are greatly multiplied by doing yoga more often.
According to a recent study at the National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health, doing yoga every day had the greatest neuro-protective effects. In this study, the brains of regular yoga practitioners were compared to those of similar health who did not practice yoga using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
As reported on Gaia.com, the study found that:
- A regular practice combining breath awareness, physical postures and meditation can increase the volume of gray matter (brain tissue) in different parts of the brain, effectively reducing the naturally occurring, age-related decline of brain cells. With most of the observed gray matter volume changes having occurred in the left-side of the brain, the implication is that yoga shifts the automatic response of the practitioner from fight-or-flight (right-brain, sympathetic nervous system activation resulting in acute physical stress) to rest-and-digest (left-brain, parasympathetic nervous system activation promoting calm and relaxation).
- The areas of the brain indicating the greatest change in gray matter were those directly related to sense of self, attention, spatial/sensory awareness as well as stress reduction. These findings provide a potential neural basis for the benefits of practicing yoga. The observed benefits were greater in those who practiced more often over a longer period of time supporting the notion that a consistent practice of yoga every day is more effective than an intermittent one.
Bottom Line: Yoga is awesome for your health no matter how often you do it, but if you want the most benefits – especially for your brain and longevity – practice every day if you can!