meditation improve brain function and energy levels, study shows
September 6, 2017
University of Waterloo
Practicing brief sessions of Hatha yoga and
mindfulness meditation can significantly improve brain function and energy
levels, according to a new study.
Practicing brief sessions
of Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation can significantly improve brain
function and energy levels, according to a new study from the University of
The study found that
practicing just 25 minutes of Hatha yoga or mindfulness meditation per day can
boost the brain’s executive functions, cognitive abilities linked to
goal-directed behavior and the ability to control knee-jerk emotional
responses, habitual thinking patterns and actions.
“Hatha yoga and
mindfulness meditation both focus the brain’s conscious processing power on a
limited number of targets like breathing and posing, and also reduce processing
of nonessential information,” said Peter Hall, associate professor in the
School of Public Health & Health Systems. “These two functions might
have some positive carryover effect in the near- term following the session,
such that people are able to focusmore easily on what they choose to attend to
in everyday life.”
participants completed 25 minutes of Hatha yoga, 25 minutes of mindfulness
meditation, and 25 minutes of quiet reading (a control task) in randomized
order. Following both the yoga and meditation activities, participants
performed significantly better on executive function tasks compared to the
suggests that there may be something special about meditation — as opposed to
the physical posing — that carries a lot of the cognitive benefits of
yoga,” said Kimberley Luu, lead author on the paper.
The study also found that
mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga were both effective for improving energy
levels, but Hatha yoga had significantly more powerful effects than meditation
“There are a number
of theories about why physical exercises like yoga improve energy levels and
cognitive test performance,” said Luu. “These include the release of
endorphins, increased blood flow to the brain, and reduced focus on ruminative
thoughts. Though ultimately, it is still an open question.”
Hatha yoga is one of the
most common styles of yoga practiced in Western countries.
It involves physical
postures and breathing exercises combined with meditation. Mindfulness
mediation involves observing thoughts, emotions and body sensations with
openness and acceptance.
meditative aspect might be even more important than the physical posing for
improving executive functions, there are additional benefits to Hatha yoga
including improvements in flexibility and strength,” said Hall.
“These benefits may make Hatha yoga superior to meditation alone, in terms
of overall health benefits.”