06/15/2014 12:31 pm ET Updated Aug 15, 2014

Can These Yoga Poses Make You Smarter?

Can yoga make you smarter? It's not as much of a stretch as you think.

Click Here to see All 9 Yoga Poses That Make You Smarter

A recent study out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tested this idea on 30 female college students and found that just 20 minutes of yoga enabled them to better complete mental tasks that involve the speed and accuracy of their working memory and other important measures of cognitive performance.

Yoga Poses That Make You Smarter

In fact, as a brain booster, yoga outperformed an intense bout of aerobic exercise, which has already been shown to have positive effects on the brain.

"It appears that following yoga practice, the participants were better able to focus their mental resources, process information quickly, more accurately and also learn, hold and update pieces of information more effectively than after performing an aerobic exercise bout," said lead researcher Neha Gothe in a press release.

Although there may be many reasons for the results, Gothe believes that yoga's focus on mindfulness may be an important factor. "The breathing and meditative exercises aim at calming the mind and body and keeping distracting thoughts away while you focus on your body, posture or breath," she said. "Maybe these processes translate beyond yoga practice when you try to perform mental tasks or day-to-day activities."

-- Mark Lebetkin, The Active Times

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