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Beckman researchers find that yoga improves short-term memory

There are several people kneeling on yoga mats, spread out throughout a large room with windows on either side.
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Sean Mullen, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, teamed up with Beckman researchers Neha Gothe and Rosalba Hernandez to study the effects of virtual yoga program on stressed out adults working full time. They found that the eight week program they designed did indeed reduce stress and anxiety, results that are not entirely surprising. There have been many times in my life where I’ve turned to yoga for exactly this purpose.

However, they also found evidence that learning different sequences of yoga flow improves executive functioning and in turn, working memory.

The study, which is now published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, was conducted at the beginning of the pandemic, which provided additional insight into the benefits of such a program. From Mullen:

The reductions in anxiety and improvements in short-term working memory suggest that it is possible to practice moderate-intensity yoga at home and still reap the benefits of reducing stress and anxiety without compromising safety. [The study] really became about promoting resilience in dark times.

You can read more about the team’s work at the Beckman Institute website.

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