Can Yoga Improve Memory?
Edited and published by Wellness Monster Dina
Losing memory can be very upsetting. From forgetting where the car keys are to not remembering that there’s a major report due at work, memory loss is stressful and scary. Regardless of what’s being forgotten, anyone will find it concerning when they can’t remember the simplest things. How many times have we been in conversations and we can’t remember someone’s name, or find it hard to remember an easy word? We grab our phones and type a synonym in the thesaurus so we can find the word we’re actually thinking of. It can be very embarrassing. There may be hope with yoga. That’s not to say when doing yoga, a person will need to do all of those awkward or even painful looking poses. Some very simple poses may help to improve memory.
Yoga May Help
There have been multiple studies on individuals that have found they are forgetting things. The part of the brain that controls memory is the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is located in the frontal lobe. (human-memory.net) There are many things that are believed to help with improving memory, such as eating blueberries. However, one of the things in everyone’s life that affects their ability to remember, whether short-term or long-term, is stress. By minimizing the amount of stress in one’s life, people are giving themselves a chance at not only general happiness, but also the ability to actually remember things. (yogajournal.com)
Poses that may help to improve memory are not as difficult as some may think. Something as simple as the Lotus Pose, also known as the Padmasana, will relax the mind and reduce muscular tension. By sitting on the floor with the legs stretched out and the spine erect, cross the legs by placing the right foot on the left thigh so that the heel is close to the abdomen, and do the same with the left foot on the right thigh. Finally, place the hands on the knees, palms up then breathe gently with the head straight. This will help to ease tension. (stylecraze.com)
Another pose, which may not even seem like a yoga pose, is the Padahastasana, or standing forward bend. This is quite literally standing with the feet together, lifting the arms straight up and over the head so that the arms are touching the ears, then bending down at the hips and touching the feet. The head and torso are facing and hugging the thighs with hands on either side of the feet. This pose will increase blood supply to the brain.
One of the most popular poses is the corpse pose. It is quite literally the practice of lying flat on the back, eyes closed, palms up, and taking deep breaths. One has to be very careful not to fall asleep during this pose. However, this pose is one of the best poses to achieve the loss of a great amount of stress. By ending a session of yoga with this pose, one is able to exhale the stresses of the day and inhale the cleaner air of contentment. Many believe this pose to be the most important pose of the session because it allows the body to process the information and benefits of the poses and breathing exercises. (yogaoutlet.com)
Yoga is an old discipline from India that uses breathing techniques, exercise and meditation to improve health and happiness. (simple.wikipedia.org) Many have the misconception that to do yoga, they have to be able to stretch their bodies in uncomfortable forms and be practically able to stand on their fingertips. Though that is true of the more disciplined and experienced person doing yoga, it is not necessary for everyone. The beginner will find themselves doing more breathing, sitting still, and simply listening to the sounds around them. This may be enough for some to relieve stress and help with memory.
A study completed with 25 adults over the age of 55, were split into two groups. These adults were all suffering from some form of cognitive impairment. One group took a three month course in yoga and meditation and the other practiced memory training exercises that were already known to boost memory. By the end of the study, both experienced an increase in verbal memory, but the group that practiced yoga had an impressive increase in visual-spatial memory. (livescience.com)
Not only can yoga help with anxiety and depression, which is already well known, it can help with memory improvement. As mentioned earlier, stress is a major factor in memory loss. Those that are stressed from work, family, friends, etc., find themselves in situations where they are forgetting even the simplest of things. It is embarrassing and humiliating at minimum. Just by forgetting something that should be a simple matter can cause additional stress. Therefore, now they are in a painful loop of stress and memory loss.
Yoga is not only about stretching and poses. It also includes breathing techniques, meditation, and can also include visualizing and chanting. The practice of visualization and chanting is what is believed to help strengthen verbal and visual skills during yoga. By practicing yoga, it is believed that there comes an increase of protein in the brain, resulting in the growth of connections among the neurons in the brain. This also will increase memory skills.
For those that are hesitant to take yoga classes at a gym or in a class for fear of being embarrassed, it may be better for them to try it at home first. YouTube has countless videos of yoga instructors providing material for inexperienced beginners to the very experienced and expert level yogis. When it comes to our health, we shouldn’t be afraid to try new things, and yoga is already known for its infinite health benefits. Once comfortable, seek out a gym or instructor to help improve poses and get the most out of yoga.
Young woman doing yoga. [ID 44049696 © Cristim | Dreamstime.com]
Memory Lane. [ID 37355221 © Val Armstrong | Dreamstime.com]
Sporty fit woman practices yoga asana Padahastasana. [ID 77143276 © Dmitry Rukhlenko | Dreamstime.com]