Yoga classes can make you smarter and improve your concentration – Here's how

Giving your mind a break and some TLC through yoga could boost your everyday mental performance

Man practices yoga on a yoga mat at home
(Image credit: Getty)

Yoga is a form of exercise that benefits multiple areas of your health. Things like flexibility, strength, and stress can all be improved through yoga practice and you can even sharpen your brain.

When you first perch yourself on one of the best yoga mats you might find that your mind is busy trying to focus on where your limbs should be positioned, how to marry your breath to your movement as well as hold a pose steady at the same time. But the more you practice yoga, the more these things should feel natural and your brain can actually relax while benefitting from the exercise.

A research paper published in the Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine journal revealed that students who practiced yoga six times a week had enhanced cognitive skills after five months compared to a control group who didn't practice any yoga.

They discovered that specific brain skills such as memory and visual information processing were enhanced. The research team also saw improvements in areas of the brain that are responsible for problem-solving, planning, and reasoning.

Yoga class all lie down

(Image credit: Getty)

Not only did the results leave scope for more research to dissect if yoga could effectively improve academic performance but it also saw improvement in heart rate variability (HRV). This can also be improved by other healthy habits such as regular exercise, getting in good amounts of sleep, and eating well (the best vegan cookbooks can help find nutrient-rich inspired dishes).

Science can't necessarily point to exactly why yoga positively impacts people's cognitive function but it does suggest that the combination of breathwork, movement, and meditation boosts brain health better than if you just focus on each of these components by themselves.

Aside from the technical aspects, we are sure most people can agree that exercise is great for waking up or clearing the mind. Some like to blow off some steam or get out of a funk with high-intensity cardio perhaps on one of the best rowing machines

But that doesn't mean that low impact and low-intensity movement can't provide you with some much needed mental exercise as well. Activities, like yoga, Pilates or even getting your daily steps in wearing a pair of best shoes for walking can help to sharpen your brain.

Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.