Science Corner: Yoga and Brainwave Coherence

A new systematic review has synthesised the findings of dozens of recent studies into yoga’s effect on neurological activity, bringing more weight to the idea that yoga improves brainwave activity and offers people better cognitive function.

The study found that integrated yogic interventions (including pranayama and meditation) can increase the grey matter in the frontal and temporal lobes (the areas of the brain associated with motor control, speech & problem-solving, and hearing & memory recall respectively), and that it can even restore certain brain functions previously impaired.  Yoga can activate areas of the brain that have been dormant, downgrading unhelpful memories and upgrading useful ones.

Whoa, read that last sentence again yogis!  Yoga can downgrade unhelpful memories and upgrade useful ones.  Anyone else just shiver?

Much of this neurological improvement appears to be from greater brain wave coherence.  Brain waves just refers to your brain’s electrical activity as cells communicate with one another and will vary according to stimuli and what we are doing (such as resting versus problem-solving).  A well-functioning brain will see nerve cells synchronise electrical messages in an identifiable rhythm, with certain brainwaves more helpful in certain circumstances, depending on what we are doing.

In short, it all points to integrated yoga’s ability to increase mental resilience, slow the decline of brain function, and give us better neuropsychological function.

De. A and Mondal, S. (2020). Yoga and brain wave coherence: A systematic review for brain function improvement. Heart Mind 4(2), 33-39.

Written by Nicole Small, The Yoga Institute 

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