The relaxing exercise for a fit brain

One in ten people over the age of 65 suffers from Alzheimer’s, their memories stolen from them one by one, their lives erased and their personalities overwritten, leaving only depression, aggression and confusion.

In fact, in the United States, another person develops Alzheimer’s every 66 seconds. That means that in just over a minute, it could be you or someone you love whose life is changed irrevocably.

And, once you’re diagnosed with the disease, your future is not bright since the doctors have no cure for Alzheimer’s, only more questions.

This should tell you one very important fact…

The key to protecting your future from the ravages of memory loss lies in preventing it in the first place.

Luckily, new research is offering vital direction in the battle against mental decline.

Scientists in Brazil have recently released their findings, demonstrating that a relaxing exercise practiced for thousands of years could be the answer to keeping your memory sharp as the years pass…

Improved brain structure and function through mind-body activity

As you age, the structure and function of your brain changes. Your cerebral cortex thins, causing declines in your cognitive abilities.

Yoga, which combines physical poses with focused attention, has been shown in previous studies to have greater health benefits than similar aerobic exercises, and yoga practitioners have shown improved awareness, attention and memory.

And, older adults with mild cognitive impairment have also shown improvements after a short yoga training program.

Now, thanks to a new study, we know that practicing yoga can actually improve the structure and function of your brain and prevent that cortical thinning and cognitive decline seen in older brains.

The Brazilian researchers recruited 21 women who had practiced yoga for at least eight years and compared them to a group of 21 other women who had never practiced yoga, meditation or any other contemplative practice before.

They also matched the women based on age, physical activity, education level, presence of depression and more to remove any factors that might skew results.

And, what they found is the best advertisement for taking up a yoga practice you’ll ever hear.

When MRIs of the participant’s brains were performed, the researchers found greater thickness in the left prefrontal cortex in the yoginis, in brain regions associated with cognitive functions such as attention and memory, leading them to believe that practicing yoga can actually change the structure of your brain and protect against memory loss.

Choosing the yoga practice that fits your needs

So, if you want to improve the health of your brain and protect your memories, what is the best way to incorporate yoga into your everyday life?

Based on the research, the answer seems to be choosing a form of yoga that focuses on the attentional or meditational component to stimulate blood flow as well as electrical signals to your pre-frontal cortex.

Here are three types of yoga practice that are great options for people of all health levels:

  • Hatha – The traditional approach and the type of yoga practiced by the yoginis in the Brazilian study. Hatha yoga is a branch of yoga that emphasizes physical exercises to master the body along with mind exercises to withdraw it from external objects.
  • Kundalini – Kundalini yoga practice aims to activate the energy stored at the base of your spine through breath, poses, chanting and meditation. Several forms of breathing techniques are used to clear the system and allow energy to flow into the chakras, or energy centers located in the body.
  • Sivananda – Sivananda yoga integrates many forms of yoga, including a traditional Hatha approach. Sivananda weaves a five-point philosophy into every class, including principles of relaxation, exercise, breathing, diet and positive thinking. Classes follow a sequence of breathing exercises, a routine of postures and deep relaxation and meditation.

As an added boost while you’re working on your downward dog, supplement with brain-loving DHA and inflammation-fighting turmeric. These two healthy habits will help you keep your brain healthier and preserve your memories for a lifetime.

Virginia Tims-Lawson

By Virginia Tims-Lawson

Virginia Tims-Lawson has dedicated her life to researching and studying natural health after her mother had a stroke that left her blind in one eye at the age of 47, and her grandmother and two great uncles died from heart attacks. Spurred by her family history, Virginia’s passion to improve her and her family’s health through alternative practices, nutrients and supplements has become a mission she shares through her writing. She is founder of the nutritional supplement company Peak Pure & Natural®.