Brain on the Move
Joanna Podgórska; photo: private archive

Brain on the Move

An interview with Joanna Podgórska
Sylwia Niemczyk
time 11 minutes

Giving your gray matter a workout is a great idea, but the brain can also benefit hugely from mere physical activity. In her conversation with Sylwia Niemczyk, Dr. Joanna Podgórska, a neurobiologist and science popularizer, explains how physical exercise impacts our memory and thinking.

Dr. Podgórska talks about biology and chemistry in such an engaging and lucid way that thousands of people follow her on Instagram. She promotes a healthy lifestyle, referring not only to her own experience but also to research findings from all over the world. Podgórska gave up her academic career (although that’s not final!) to popularize science. In her recent book Tak działa mózg (How the Brain Works), she argues that we’re not helpless when aging. We can reverse the effects of aging or, even better, prevent them from happening. We simply need to make some effort. 

Sylwia Niemczyk: Is it true that juggling is better for the human brain than doing crosswords or sudoku?

Joanna Podgórska: Juggling is wonderful, and I recommend it to everyone. Joking aside, activities that engage both sides of the body are highly recommended from the perspective of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. Juggling balls is only one example; one can also try writing alternately with the right and left hand or go cycling. It’s true that at some point in my book,
I recommend juggling balls, but I also discuss the importance of intellectual effort. I mean, however, a real effort: what matters is an adequate, relatively high level of difficulty. 

Do you mean that, while Przekrój crosswords will work in this context, simple crosswords that take five minutes to complete won’t? 

The only beneficial aspect of the latter is killing time. But there is another, very good exercise for the brain: turn the newspaper


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Unshaken as Himalayas
Sandeep Pandey. Photo by Agnieszka Rostkowska
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Unshaken as Himalayas

Agnieszka Rostkowska

For centuries, yoga adepts and spiritual seekers have been heading to Rishikesh, a small city in northern India, hoping to find ancient wisdom in its purest form. Przekrój editor and yogi Agnieszka Rostkowska followed in their footsteps to talk with Sandeep Pandey, one of the most renowned yoga teachers in the Himalayan Yoga tradition.

Would it even be possible to count all those ashrams and schools of yoga?—I ask myself maneuvering between holy cows and rikshaws on the narrow streets of Yog Nagari, the “city of yoga,” as Rishikesh is often called in Sanskrit. The walls of the houses, cafes, and hotels are sealed with tens of posters advertising everything the modern yogi may need: daily drop-in classes, short- and long-term courses, themed workshops, special retreats, and yoga teacher trainings, as well as all kinds of meditations, mantra chanting, singing bowls and gong concerts, ayurvedic massages—this list seems to be endless. However, I did not come to Rishikesh to benefit from all that, but mostly to talk with Sandeep Pandey, an expert in Himalayan Yoga, which is the classical, meditative form of yoga.

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