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Originally published June 14 2013

Only 20 minutes of yoga instantly stimulates the brain: Study

by PF Louis

(NaturalNews) Westerners are inclined to accept the dogma of resistance and aerobic exercising as the only route to fitness. Many physical fitness advocates dismiss hatha yoga as too wimpy. Nevertheless, even seasoned triathlon athlete Rich Roll wishes he would have started practicing hatha yoga sooner. (1)

Confusing western dogma with the philosophy of hatha yoga leads to improperly practicing hatha yoga. Although hatha means willful, yoga means union. Hatha yoga is the ancient system of willfully creating union physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Approaching traditional hatha yoga with the mindset of intense aerobic calorie burning or muscle building resistance exercising interferes with the complete package of what hatha yoga offers.

Surprisingly, Chief Science Officer for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) Dr. Cedric X. Bryant also asserts this point: "If you attempt to incorporate calorie-burning elements in a yoga session you may compromise the essential purpose and beneficial effects of the practice." (2)

Recent study proves yoga increases cognitive ability

The study was conducted by University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign graduate student Neha Gothe at the university's department of Exercise and Physiology Laboratory, headed by kinesiology and community health professor Edward McAuley.

Professor McAuley declared the purpose of this study: "Yoga is becoming an increasingly popular form of exercise in the U.S. and it is imperative to systematically examine its health benefits, especially the mental health benefits that this unique mind-body form of activity may offer."

The study's subjects, all of whom were relatively active, included 30 female undergraduates at the university who participated in 20 minute sessions of aerobic exercise, monitored to produce a steady 60 to 70 percent of maximum heart rate. (3)

Those same subjects, with no prior yoga experience, also participated in 20 minute yoga sessions that included standing, sitting, and supine poses (asanas) designed to incorporate isometric muscular contraction and relaxation combined with breathing techniques. They were guided by an experienced yoga teacher.

All 30 subjects scored better in cognitive tasking tests immediately after the yoga session than they did after the aerobic session. They also reported feeling more calm, centered, and relaxed, after the yoga session whereas they only felt a little tired after the aerobic session.

Twenty minutes is a short time for a yoga session. Most classroom group sessions are at least a half hour to 45 minutes, depending on the length of the session's last and most important pose, the corpse pose or savasana (

A table that listed the eight poses (asanas) is mentioned in what's available of the study report online; the pdf with that table isn't available to non-members. (4)

A concern and a conclusion

Of concern is the amount of time spent with the corpse pose or whether it was even included! It is too often not given enough proper attention by even some qualified yoga instructors in the western world.

Savasana (corpse pose) is not simply a brief rest period. It's where the body's gross and subtle energies, mind, and body are meant to integrate completely with complete meditative relaxation. It's as though the active yoga poses prepare for this grand finale.

The corpse pose (savasana) is explained well in source (5) below.

Although the study's observation of immediate increased working memory and mental acuity is interesting, the authors conceded its shortcomings, including the small number of subjects within the same gender and other minor factors. (4)

Of course, this motivates more studies that will give academic researchers more work and graduate students more PhDs.

You don't need reams of academic research results to enjoy the benefits of yoga: Increased overall core strength, stamina, health, immune function, libido, and improved emotional states.

Simply find a nearby or online instructional source and practice it yourself.

Sources for this article include:






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