Cerebral blood flow effects of yoga training: preliminary evaluation of 4 cases

J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Jan;15(1):9-14. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0008.


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.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Cysteine / analogs & derivatives
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Male
  • Meditation / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Organotechnetium Compounds
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • Yoga*


  • Organotechnetium Compounds
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • technetium Tc 99m bicisate
  • Cysteine