Yoga and meditation are becoming increasingly mainstream activities in the U.S., and new research helps explain why. Daily sessions of either practice can have dramatic effects on brain function. Scientists asked 31 healthy people to engage in 25 minutes of hatha yoga, mindfulness meditation, and quiet reading in random order. Mental tasks completed before and after each session found that yoga and meditation led to greater improvements in the participants’ energy level, mood, executive function, and ability to control thoughts and emotions. “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 co-author, Peter Hall, tells ScienceDaily.com. That mental training, he said, apparently enables people “to focus more easily on what they choose to attend to in everyday life.”
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