Objectives: Experienced practitioners of yoga have been shown to alter brain function, but this case series measured cerebral blood flow before and after a 12-week training program in Iyengar yoga (IY) for naïve subjects.
Methods: On the first day, each of the 4 subjects listened to the teacher speaking on the history and background of the yoga program while they were injected with 250 MBq of (99m)Tc-bicisate and received a single photon emission computed tomography scan (pre-program baseline). Subjects then had their first IY training and were injected and scanned with 925 MBq bicisate while they did their first meditation (pre-program meditation). Subjects then underwent a 12-week training program in IY and then underwent the same imaging protocol with a postprogram baseline and postprogram meditation scan. Baseline and meditation scans, before and after training, were compared using paired t tests.
Results: There were significant decreases (p < 0.05) between the pre- and postprogram baseline scans in the right amygdala, dorsal medial cortex, and sensorimotor area. There was a significant difference (p < 0.05) in the pre- and postprogram percentage change (i.e., activation) in the right dorsal medial frontal lobe, prefrontal cortex, and right sensorimotor cortex.
Conclusions: These initial findings suggest the brain experiences a "training effect" after 12 weeks of IY training.