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Yoga improves working memory, mindfulness

08 Aug 2017

Yoga programmes appear to improve manipulation and maintenance of working memory (WM) and higher mindfulness scores, a new study has shown.

A total of 43 participants underwent a six-week yoga programme. The digit span and letter-number sequencing (LNS) subtests of the Wechslter Adult Intelligence Scale, fourth edition (WAIS-IV), along with the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) were administered before and after the yoga programme to measure the impacts on WM. Those with prohibitive physical conditions were excluded.

The programme focused on Hatha yoga and included asanas connected with pranayama. A 10-minute mindfulness meditation was also performed.

Compared with scores prior to the yoga programme, there were significant improvements in the Digit Span Forward (DSF; p=0.016), DS Backwards (DSB; p=0.011) and DS Total (DST; p<0.0001) scores after the programme. Past yoga experience did not exert significant impacts on the analyses of these WAIS-IV subdomains.

In contrast, there was no significant improvement in DS Sequencing (DSS; p=0.037) scores after the programme.

LNS scores showed overall improvement after the 6-week programme (p<0.0001) but was significantly affected by past yoga experience (p=0.0001). Subgroup analysis showed that only those with previous yoga experiences (p<0.0001) yielded improvements in LNS scores.

The yoga programme also significantly improved mindfulness. MAAS scores were significantly higher after the programme (p<0.0001) compared to baseline scores. Sex, age, additional yoga practice and previous yoga experience did not significantly affect the analysis of the MAAS scores (p>0.05).

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