Studies have shown that practicing yoga with a qualified teacher can help your brain work better. Recently, University of Illinois researchers found that immediately following a 20-minute hatha yoga session, study participants completed a set of mental challenges both faster and more accurately than they did after a brisk walk or a jog. Researchers are in the earliest stages of examining whether yogic practices could also help stave off age-related cognitive decline. "The yogic practices that involve meditation would likely be the ones involved, because of the engagement of control of attention," says Khalsa. Indeed, research has shown that parts of the cerebral cortex—an area of the brain associated with cognitive processing that becomes thinner with age—tend to be thicker in long-term meditators, suggesting that meditation could be a factor in preventing age-related thinning.
Khalsa is a Harvard neuroscientist who has studied yoga's health effects for 12 years. http://www.yogajournal.com/health/2638