• AnJenette Afridi. MA

Yoga Increases Neuroplasticity

Your brain is an ever-changing organ and neuroplasticity is its potential to create new pathways and reorganize its functions based on how it is being used or neglected. Like muscles, your brain’s regions can become larger or smaller depending on how often they are used.

This can be indicative in cases of depression and addiction and how our repetitive thoughts and actions can cause the brain to be wired to react negatively. This also means though that we can work to rewire those pathways to develop healthy habits and thoughts.

We used to believe that our brains were “stuck” in certain ways and patterns but now we know it is able to change, based on research of neuroscience. A study from MIT’s McGovern Institute found that even if a habit is changed, an old trigger can quickly reintroduce the old habit and seems to be based deep in striatum, where patterns appear to be very deeply ingrained.

If the striatum malfunctions, dopamine transmitters become imbalanced and the habit is uncontrollable, as seen in obsessive-compulsive disorders or addictions.

The good news is that scientists believe we are able to change based on learning to recognize the trigger for your habit and then working to override and rewrite the pathways of those habits by replacing it with a healthy habit instead. Repeating the positive habit can eventually change the way our mind behaves with lots of self-discipline.

Their research also shows that feeling passionate and strongly about something will make it easier and faster to change the habit than if it were pressure from an external source.

Yoga can be a natural tool to use in changing your pathways. A mindful, peaceful yoga practice requires you to be aware of your attitudes, judgments and inner dialogue as much as your breath and alignment.

When you are practicing on your mat, you are not only training your muscles to relax and strengthen but you are also building positive neuropathways. While it is not a substitute for medical advice, it can be a positive tool to use in addition to other things.


This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical issue or disease. The author does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of this article and will not be held responsible for the content of this article. The information in this article is not intended to replace a personal relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your personal health care provider for specific medical advice.