Yoga’s Protective Effects on the Aging Brain

Papers from major research groups on the medical benefits of yoga have continued to appear at accelerated rates over the last two years.

We track these papers daily and often pass them every term on to our students in our Teacher Training Programs, which heavily emphasize the medical benefits of yoga and closely related traditions.

One recent paper of this sort comes from a well-established research group at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland and McGill University in Canada.

The study found that the general decline normally expected in gray-matter (brain cell) volume with aging was significantly less than expected in experienced yoga practitioners, as measured by brain imaging (fMRI) studies.

Moreover, the level of neuroprotection  neatly correlated both with the hours of weekly practice and the number of years of practice.

One of the novel parts of the paper is that it attempts to distinguish the relevant benefits in practitioners of the percentage of time they spend in practice between each of the three major components of yoga — postural practice, controlled breathing, and meditation.

For those interested in full details, you can download the full paper by clicking on the title below:

Neuroprotective effects of yoga practice: age-, experience-, and frequency-dependent plasticity. – sf