Exercise has all kinds of benefits for your physical health, but we’re learning more about the ways it’s good for our mental health, too. We knew yoga was good for easing stress and anxiety, but it turns out it can help us make decisions and multi-task as well.
A team of researchers from the Universityanalyzed 11 different studieson the mental benefits of yoga and found some interesting patterns. Each study had patients undergo an MRI, so they could really see what was happening in their heads. In yoga practitioners, they found increases in the volume of the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in memory processing, and the amygdala, a part of the brain that helps regulate emotions, was found to be larger also, as were the prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, and brain networks. Yogis were also found to perform better on cognitive tests.
So what does it all mean? In theory, if these areas are larger in someone who is really into yoga, they have a better capacity to think rationally and may be able to walk away from those stunning, but totally unnecessary new shoes they’ve been eyeing. So if you want to make better choices, it might be time to hit your yoga mat.