Iyengar Yoga – The Brain Workout

Iyengar Yoga Makes you Smart!

Dreaded mental diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia thankfully won’t effect the most of us.    However certain parts of our brains do shrink as we age and therefore certain mental functions do diminish.

Can Iyengar Yoga help?

For years Yoga has been associated with meditation and the focus of mental energy into our lives.  Meditation can create an energy that can contribute to a wonderful increase in your mental capacity.

Often considered a brain tonic, meditation has been prescribed by Ayurevedic healers as a means to focus and sharpen memory and concentration.

Iyengar YogaMeditation, often  referred to as “Pranyama” in Yoga provides the right conditions to focus our energy on positive thoughts.  Negative thoughts are not only bad for how we feel, but are also bad for our brain.  Feelings like hate, anger and resentment etc, create stress which produces Cortisol, a hormone released by our Adrenal system.

Over time, excessive levels of cortisol have been proven to shrink the parts of the brain associated with memory and emotions.




Iyengar Yoga Pranyamas…

…can help focus our energies away from negative feelings and help us relax, become calm and therefore reduce our stress levels and the negative effects mentioned above.

A recent study analysed 52 yoga studios for an article in the Complementary Health Practice Review and showed that the practice of meditation showed an increase in brain activity; activity associated with concentration and attention.  Focus was improved, recall became better and the practitioners of meditation said they had a much greater sense of well being.

In addition to the practice of meditation as part of Iyengar Yoga, the practice of all Asanas during a class provide a great way to just “Switch Off”.  This mental separation from everything else happening that day is another contributing factor the reduction of stress and the production of harmful Cortisol.

Personally, I find that when I practice Iyengar Yoga I can’t focus on anything else.  The stresses of the day, the kids, shopping, preparing dinners and all the other day to day activities are completely forgotten about.  Depending on the focus of the class in can be a great way to unwind and relax or a way to re energise and rejuvinate the body and mind.

Iyengar yoga in particular, and one of the main reasons I chose to become a qualified teacher in this particular style, demands a high degree of precision, control and focused effort.    The endorphin release that comes with this intensity of workout is another contributing factor to your sense of well being and therefore has a positive effect on our ability to concentrate and improve our brain power.

And let’s face it…

… just to remembering the Sanskrit names of all the postures in Iyengar Yoga demands you have a fit brain and an active memory!!



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