In a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, brain function was stimulated immediately after a 20-minute yoga session. The study participants performed significantly better after the yoga session than after doing cardio for the same amount of time.
The study, conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, had female college undergrads do a series of yoga poses while standing, seated, and then lying on the floor, and concluded with a relaxation exercise. For the cardio session, the women either walked or jogged on a treadmill, maintaining 60 to 70 percent of their maximum heart rate.
After the exercise sessions, they were tested on their cognitive function and reaction time. Following yoga, the women did better on the test. After the cardio session, their functioning showed no improvement over baseline.
The researchers, from the university’s department of kinesiology and community health, said similar results have also been found with older adults.
The takeaway? As a trainer, I’ve always said yoga helps you do everything else that you do even better, and apparently that fact has application beyond your physical performance. Adding some yoga to your regimen — even short bouts — definitely can’t hurt, and most likely will have affects spilling into other areas of your life.