A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that yoga practice among workers in the U.S. more than doubled between 2002 and 2012, from 6% to 11%.
Meditation practice also rose from 8% to 9.9%. Kimberley Luu and Associate Professor Peter Hall, of the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, explain that “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.” But can these two practices help people “focus more easily on what they choose”? We know that as little as 11 minutes of mindfulness training has helped heavy drinkers reduce their alcohol consumption in just one week.
For the new study, 31 healthy participants completed three sessions in random order: 25 minutes of Hatha yoga (mindful movement and meditation), mindfulness meditation (mindfulness of breath, emotions, thoughts and body sensations) and quiet reading (the control task). Executive function was assessed with a Stroop interference task (a test involving carrying out a cognitive task with interference from irrelevant information) before each session and at 5 minutes and 10 minutes afterwards. Difficulty ignoring the irrelevant information means a slower reaction time and higher rate of error. This capacity for selective attention is an executive function. Yoga and meditation equally improved test performance, however this improvement only showed after 10 minutes but not yet after five.
Last modified: October 30, 2018