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Yoga as a Complementary Therapy for Cognitive Disorders

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Yoga has an improved effect on cognitive disorders. It helps in increasing memory and mood and reduces anxiety and stress. Read the article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Shakti Mishra

Published At June 12, 2023
Reviewed AtApril 25, 2024


Yoga helps treat cognitive disorders by improving mood and cognitive functions. Balancing the mood is important in cognition and improving the quality of life. Disturbance in the mood can create cognitive impairment. The brain's frontal lobe should be healthy to perform a good function. Yoga can help improve mood and keep the frontal lobes of the brain away from stress, thus treating any cognitive disorder.

What Are Cognitive Disorders?

Cognitive disorders are neuropsychological disorders, including memory loss, dementia, delirium, or amnesia. People who have cognitive disorders are not fully oriented to time and place. Various diseases or conditions cause cognitive disorders. The treatment of cognitive disorders depends upon the cause of the disease. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cognitive disorder. Other cognitive disorders include traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies (change in the sleep pattern, movement, etc.), Huntington's disease (an inherited neurodegenerative disease with lack of coordination), frontotemporal degeneration (degeneration involving the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain), etc.

What Are the Effect of Yoga on the Brain?

Yoga helps in promoting or increasing cognitive tasks, mainly memory. Yoga can help in changing neurobiological factors in different regions of the brain. It will improve the synaptic plasticity of the brain and thus promote various cognitive tasks. Yoga also helps in improving symmetry and neurocognitive functions. It can help in creating anatomical changes in the limbic system.

  • Yoga and Neurotransmitters of the Brain - Gamma amino butyric acid, or GABA, is the main neurotransmitter that inhibits the regulation of neural plasticity and excitement in the cortical region. Yoga helps increase the cortical acid and modulates the regions present in the brain. Practicing regular yoga will help in increasing the value of GABA and thus increases the mood and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. Increased production of GABA is caused by enhancing the blood flow to the brain in the prefrontal cortex during yoga, activating the thalamus's reticular nucleus, and producing GABA. Yoga can also help increase serotonin production and decrease norepinephrine values, which will help patients with any heart conditions.

  • Yoga and Bioelectrical Activities of the Brain - Various poses or asanas, meditation techniques, and breathing techniques help improve the brain's overall activity in the amygdala and the frontal cortex. Yoga helps in improving attention and focus. The alpha wave causes the body and mind to get attention and do the basic cognitive process. During yoga, alpha wave activity will be increased production, and the cognitive process will be improved. Beta waves are increased during stressful conditions with yoga meditation practices. Theta levels are increased during the reduced level of anxiety. Yoga care help in relaxing the mind and reducing anxiety. Long duration of yoga asanas and meditation helps in increasing the activities of alpha and theta waves.

How Does Yoga Affect Cognitive Functioning?

Yoga has a beneficial effect on cognitive disorders and improves the cognitive functioning of people. The impact of yoga on cognitive functioning is by -

  • Sleep - Reduced sleep or insomnia is common in most adults. The cause of sleeplessness may include disturbance in sleep, excessive sleeping in the daytime, etc. Sleep disturbance can also affect cognitive functioning, like memory. Yoga can help improve the sleep cycle and reduce cognitive symptoms like memory loss. The regular practice of yoga can improve the quality of sleep.

  • Mood - Cognitive disorders are associated with neuropsychiatric symptoms like anxiety and depression. Yoga can help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression through breathing techniques and meditation. Thus mood can be improved.

  • Size of Hippocampus - The hippocampus size is reduced during cognitive impairment and dementia, which is caused by excessive levels of cortisol, which causes the hippocampus to shrink. Through regular yoga practice, stress can be reduced, there will be a reduction in the cortisol level, and the structure or function of the hippocampus is restored.

Which Are the Yoga Asanas and Breathing Techniques for Cognitive Disorders?

Yoga poses give a cognitive boost and reduce stress and depression by improving the brain's functions. Breathing techniques through one nose can activate the brain on the opposite side. Yoga asanas and breathing techniques to reduce cognitive disorders include the following -

  • Bhramari Pranayama or Humming Bee Breathing - Bhramari Pranayama is a breathing practice that helps calm the mind and soothe the nervous system, which will help connect the mind and the body. It is called humming bee breathing because, during breathing techniques, a humming sound is produced from the back of the throat. This technique helps calm the mind and reduces negative energy like anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, etc. It helps in improving concentration and memory and helps in building confidence. It reduces cerebral tension and decreases blood pressure. It is practiced by sitting straight in a cross-legged position by keeping the hands on the knee, taking deep breaths, and producing a humming sound from the back of the throat during acceleration of the breath.

  • Paschimottanasana or Seated Forward Bend - This pose helps stretch the spine, relieve stress, and reduce negative energy like anger and irritability. This is done by sitting straight on the floor, stretching the leg straight, and keeping both hands beside the body. Slowly bend forward by touching the head on the knees and the chest on the thighs. Place the hands on the ankle of the leg on both sides.

  • Setu Bandhasana or Bridge Pose - The bridge pose helps strengthen and stretch the spine and neck muscles. It helps in relaxing the muscles and helps improve the circulation of blood to the brain. It helps in calming the nervous system and brain, reducing stress, depression, and anxiety. This is done by lying down on the floor in a supine position by keeping both hands beside the body and bending the knees to 90 degrees to the floor, keeping the feet parallel to the floor. Slowly lift the body from the ground creating an arch and connecting both hands below the hip.

  • Sarvangasana or Shoulder Stand - The shoulder stands pose helps regulate and normalize the thyroid and parathyroid gland functions. It helps in improving the functions of the brain by nourishing the brain with more amount of blood. It also helps in improving all types of cognitive functions. This is done by lying straight on the floor in a supine position, lifting the legs from the floor upwards perpendicular to the floor, and supporting the back of the hip with the help of the hands. The body's weight should be focused on the shoulder, and the head should be parallel to the floor.


Yoga helps in improving the quality of life and can be used to prevent several diseases. Yoga can decrease symptoms of various disease conditions, including stress, anxiety, depression, pain, respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems, and neurological disorders. Yoga helps people with cognitive disorders like dementia, Alzheimer's disease, etc. Yoga helps in improving cognitive functions like attention, memory, and speech. It helps by improving sleep, mood, and the connection between the brain and the mind.

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Shakti Mishra
Shakti Mishra



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