Numerous studies suggest that yoga practice has a positive effect on cognitive processes such as memory and attention.
For example, one study found improvement in memory in Brazilian military recruits who participated in yoga as well as exercise compared to recruits in an exercise- only condition. Effects were particularly strong for those under stressful conditions and the improved memory effect persisted even after 6 months. (Rocha et al., 2012) Another study that recruited adolescents found that a 7-week yoga program improved memory and concentration. (Kauts and Sharma, 2009) Another example is a recent research that showed significant improvement on speed and accuracy in math computations in a sample of 38 adults who participated in a 20-min Tai chi/yoga class. (Field et al., 2010).
Although the studies on effect of yoga on cognition are preliminary, often based on a small sample of participants or lack an appropriate control groups, these initial findings are consistent with the notion that yoga can aid various aspects of cognition.
Field, T., Diego, M., and Hernandez-Reif, M. (2010). Tai chi/yoga effects on anxiety, heartrate, EEG and math computations. Complement. Ther. Clin. Pract. 16, 235– 238. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2010.05.014
Kauts, A., and Sharma, N. (2009). Effect of yoga on academic performance in relation to stress. Int. J. Yoga 2, 39–43. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.53860
Rocha, K. K., Ribeiro, A. M., Rocha, K. C., Sousa, M. B., Albuquerque, F. S., Ribeiro, S., et al. (2012). Improvement in physiological and psychological parameters after 6 months of yoga practice. Conscious. Cogn. 21, 843–850. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2012.01.014