American neuroscientists have conducted a series of observations of people who love to practice meditation and yoga and have concluded that such exercises improve brain function and help people better control their emotions, according to an article published in the journal Mindfulness.
Both yoga and meditation concentrate the attention and resources of the brain on solving a very small set of tasks, such as controlling one’s breathing and posture, and help a person isolate oneself from all unnecessary information. Both can help a person to concentrate better and focus their attention on other tasks in their daily life.
In recent years, scientists have been showing greater interest in how meditation, yoga and other oriental practices can affect a person’s consciousness, behavior and body condition. For example, a few years ago, American neuroscientists discovered that meditation increases the levels of oxytocin, the well-known hormone of happiness, in the human body and helps women fight inflammation after breast cancer removal. In addition, three years ago, Japanese scientists discovered that meditation also might help people to get rid of drug and alcohol addiction.
Research and experiments lead scientists to the idea that meditation can significantly change the way the brain functions and make it more resistant to stress and other harmful emotions.
To test this idea, the researchers assembled a group of three dozen volunteers that had practiced yoga or meditation long enough to see if their intelligence and brain function changed after a combination of 30 minutes of meditation and Yoga. A similar number of volunteers took the same tests after half an hour of reading books in a relaxed environment.
As shown by these experiments, volunteers engaged in yoga and meditation, began to solve problems faster than they were able to pass them before the experiment began. For example, they began to pass the so-called Stroop test faster – reading colored text of words that representing different colors, ie the word “Green” in “yellow” text. (The Stroop Color and Word Test (SCWT) is a neuropsychological test extensively used to assess the ability to inhibit cognitive interference that occurs when the processing of a specific stimulus feature impedes the simultaneous processing of a second stimulus attribute, well-known as the Stroop Effect).
As a rule, typically all people “stumble” while reading undergoing the test, however the yoga and meditation participants have noticeably reduced the delays in responding during such examinations. Plus, it helped to improve mood of participants and their ability to solve problems also has increased.
There are many theories that explain why meditation and yoga can make a person more energetic and improve brain function. This could be due to both the release of endorphins and improved blood flow to the brain, as well as suppression of negative thoughts.
Various studies point that yoga has mental health benefits, much of this is due to how yoga combines intense physical activity, different types of meditation, and breathing exercises – a veritable anti-anxiety cocktail with zero long-term side effects.