Here's another reason why practicing yoga is healthy for you. According to a study featured on ScienceDaily.com, a 20-minute session of Hatha yoga may improve mental prowess and reaction times.

Researchers from the University of Illinois asked 30 female students to attend a 20-minute yoga session, which included seated, standing, and supine postures that worked on different muscle groups. Regulated breathing patterns were recommended for every position and transition, and the session ended with a few minutes of meditation.

The same group was then asked to join a 20-minute aerobic session, which was composed of walking and jogging on a treadmill, with a goal of maintaining 60 to 70 percent of their maximum heart rate.

After each session the participants were tested for their accuracy and speed in completing a set of cognitive tasks. The results revealed that while there was no change in mental performance after the aerobic session, the women showed improved working memory and inhibitory control after the yoga session.

“The breathing and meditative exercises aim at calming the mind and body and keeping distracting thoughts away while you focus on your body, posture or breath. Maybe these processes translate beyond yoga practice when you try to perform mental tasks or day-to-day activities,” explains lead researcher Neha Gothe.

(Photo by lululemon athletica via Flickr Creative Commons)

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