Listed in Issue 177


COHEN and COLLEAGUES,  Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA studied cerebral blood flow prior to and following 12-weeks of Iyengar yoga practice.


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 naive subjects.


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.


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.


These initial findings suggest the brain experiences a 'training effect' after 12 weeks of IY training.


Cohen DL, Wintering N, Tolles V, Townsend RR, Farrar JT, Galantino ML and Newberg AB. Cerebral blood flow effects of yoga training: preliminary evaluation of 4 cases. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine. 15(1): 9-14. Jan 2009.

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