Could doing yoga help your memory? Recent research suggests it could.

In a recent study, one 20 minute Hatha yoga session was linked to significant improvement in how people fared when they took tests measuring inhibitory control and working memory.

Some 30 female students of a young age took part in the study and participants had better accuracy and speed on these tests straight after they had done yoga, compared to after they had done some aerobic exercise for an equivalent period, reports the University of Illinois.

Study leader Neha Gothe was a University of Illinois graduate student when she undertook the research.

She has described yoga as "an ancient Indian science and way of life" saying that it involves moving physically, using postures and breathing in a regulated fashion, as well as meditating.

"The practice involves an active attentional or mindfulness component but its potential benefits have not been thoroughly explored," she said.

According Ms Gothe, the study results suggested that after practicing yoga those taking part were more "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.”

She explained that the meditative and breathing techniques involved in the yoga undertaken in the study aimed to calm people's bodies and minds and keep away distracting thoughts whilst they focused on their breathing, their postures and their bodies.

It could be that such "processes translate beyond yoga practice when you try to perform mental tasks or day-to-day activities," she suggested.

Yoga is a practice that's becoming more and more popular in the States as a way of exercising and it is important that the activity's health benefits are systematically investigated, explained Edward McAuley, director of the University of Illinois Exercise Psychology Laboratory, the setting where the study was conducted.

The was especially the case when it came to yoga's benefits when it came to mental health, he suggested.

“We only examined the effects of a 20-minute bout of yoga and aerobic exercise in this study among female undergraduates,” he explained.

“However, this study is extremely timely and the results will enable yoga researchers to power and design their interventions in the future."

The study used a 20 minute yoga session which included deep and regulated breaking, meditative posture and a range of yoga positions. Those taking part also used a treadmill to take part in a session of aerobic exercise which also lasted 20 minutes. The study has appeared in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

Thinking of getting into yoga? As well as proper instruction, you'll want all the best yoga equipment to practice your new hobby.

Yoga mats will help you take part in comfort, while yoga bags will make getting to your class in style even easier!