The Brain Benefits of Yoga


I was blessed to fall upon an incredible yoga class in Portland, Oregon, which highlighted the connection of neurobiology and yoga. The teacher was an amazing wealth of knowledge bridging the fields of neuroscience and the 5000-year-old practice that has very much become a mainstream coping skill.

It was a truly transformative experience I will never forget.

It is important for us to understand and honor yoga as a science; one of mental, physical and spiritual transformational qualities. Researchers in the fields of psychology, neuroscience and neurobiology are now scientifically proving that the practice of yoga can literally change your brain chemistry and thought patterns.

With use of sophisticated modern brain scan technologies, such as MRI’s and PET scans, researchers are finding that with increased hours of yoga practice certain areas of the brain are actually enlarged. These ‘brain gains’ are seen in the somatosensory cortex, which contains a mental map of our body, the superior parietal cortex, involved in directing attention, and the visual cortex.Chantal Villemure and Catherine Bushnell of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Bethesda, MD used MRI scans to examine brains of yogis and also found the hippocampus, a region critical to dampening stress, was also enlarged in regular practitioners, as were the precuneus and the posterior cingulate cortex, areas key to our concept of self. These regions also directly affect our ability to more effectively deal with clinical mood related disorders such as anxiety, major depressive disorder, PTSD, trauma and addictive related disorders.



Coupling these findings with our understandings surrounding neuroplasticity (our brain’s ability to literally re-wire itself based upon what we focus our attention on) can be a true game-changer in the overall health, vitality and productivity of our lives.

Neuroscience +Yoga+Intention=LOVE