Brain fog can happen to anyone—especially in the middle of a pandemic. Eating the right nutrients and getting proper sleep can help. Or, for a more active solution, you can turn to your yoga mat, because doing yoga to help clear brain fog can make for smooth-sailing days ahead.
Practicing yoga has a long list of benefits for your brain, including reduced anxiety and improved memory. But engaging in a series of asanas also works to combat a fuzzy mind in a couple of ways. “Yoga helps to alleviate brain fog, or improve your focus, for two reasons,” says Lindsay Pirozzi, a New York City-based yoga instructor. “It improves our vagal tone, and yoga, along with breath work and meditation, helps to develop the left prefrontal cortex of our brain.”
Additionally, the vagus nerve—part of the fight-or-flight parasympathetic nervous system—is stimulated with diaphragmatic breath, which is used in yoga, Pirozzi explains. “When the cortex is operating in healthy ways, we have stronger problem-solving ability, improved judgment, and language skills, which are often compromised by brain fog,” she says. In a general sense, the increased attention to awareness that you practice in yoga can benefit you once you step off of the mat, too.
“Most yoga practices share the idea that our individual awareness, how much we notice things, can improve,” says Ross Rayburn, a Peloton yoga instructor. “Just like exercise can help clear [brain fog], exercising with awareness and other yogic practices can have a grounding effect and can shift your perspective.” With movement as a catalyst for shaking things up, the fog can clear much easier, he says.
While yoga pros say that any kind of practice can give you mind-clearing benefits, Rayburn points out that going upside down can be particularly effective. “There is some evidence that inversions, which range from downward dog to a headstand, even legs up the wall, can help with brain fog,” he says. And core-focused moves are good, too. “When the core is weak and the spine is compressed, we don’t have full access to our diaphragm,” says Pirozzi. “Any postures that include backbends, twists, and deep core work are especially helpful.” So hit these poses up whenever that fog strikes again.
Or try this core-focused yoga sequence, courtesy of yoga pro Val Verdier:
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