Yoga is believed to have beneficial effects on cognition, attenuation of emotional intensity and stress reduction. Previous studies were mainly performed on eastern experienced practitioners or unhealthy subjects undergoing concomitant conventional therapies. Further investigation is needed on the effects of yoga per se, as well as its possible preventive benefits on healthy subjects. We investigated the effects of yoga on memory and psychophysiological parameters related to stress, comparing yoga practice and conventional physical exercises in healthy men (previously yoga-naïve). Memory tests, salivary cortisol levels and stress, anxiety, and depression inventories were assessed before and after 6 months of practice. Yoga practitioners showed improvement of the memory performance, as well as improvements in psychophysiological parameters. The present results suggest that regular yoga practice can improve aspects of cognition and quality of life for healthy individuals. An indirect influence of emotional state on cognitive improvement promoted by yoga practice can be proposed.
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