Itching for a promotion? It’s time to take up yoga.
New research has found that just 25 minutes of stretching and mindfulness a day can improve goal-directed behavior, boost brain function and up energy levels.
Additionally, these activities are shown to increase a person’s ability to control their knee-jerk emotional responses – perfect for those times you need to refrain from clapping back at your boss.
“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,” the study’s author, Professor Peter Hall explains.
“These two functions might have some positive carryover effect in the near-term following the session, such that people are able to focus more easily on what they choose to attend to in every day life.”
The study – first published in the journal Mindfulness – saw 31 volunteers complete 25 minutes of Hatha Yoga, 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation and 25 minutes of quiet reading in random order.
Following the sessions of yoga and meditation, the participants performed significantly better on executive function tasks then they did after spending time with a good book.
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But while both of these activities were proven to be effective for enhancing vitality, yoga had significantly more powerful effects than meditation alone.
“There are a number of theories about why physical exercises like yoga improve energy levels and cognitive test performance,” Kimberley Luu from The University of Waterloo in Ontario said.
“These include the release of endorphins, increased blooded flow to the brain, and reduced focus on ruminative thoughts.”
Hall added: “Although the 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.”
“These benefits may make Hatha yoga superior to meditation alone in terms of overall health benefits."
Hatha yoga is one of the most common styles of yoga practiced in Western countries and involves a series of physical postures and meditative breathing exercises.
In mindfulness meditation, participants simply take time out to observe and accept their thoughts, emotions and body sensations.