Neuroscience catches up with yoga

Neuroscience catches up with yoga

When I discovered Kundalini yoga a couple of years ago I found a lot to love. It immediately felt like the right practice for me – the perfect combination of physical activity and meditation.

There were also aspects that made me glad I was doing it in the privacy of my own home. I’m not naturally a chanting kind of person, for example, and some of the hand and arm movements that accompany the chanting seemed odd in the extreme. But I decided to go with the flow, not question the reasoning behind the movements too closely and, if in doubt, simply regard them as unusual forms of arm exercise.

Then a couple of things happened that made me think the reasoning is not so wild after all.

First I saw a physio for shoulder pain, discovered that my right shoulder was rolling forward and was given exercises to help correct it. I was also told to shake my hand as I did them because this can fix the new position in the brain more quickly.

Then I read an article in Medical News Today which suggests that clenching your fist improves your memory. Apparently, “Unilateral hand clenching increases neuronal activity in the frontal lobe of the contralateral hemisphere. Such hand clenching is also associated with increased experiencing of a given hemisphere’s ‘mode of processing’.”

So, while flapping my hands like a bird, clenching them into fists and rolling them around each other or imitating splashing water over my head provides an endless source of comedy material for my children, I really could be doing good things to my brain.

The more we discover, the more we find we already knew.

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