A recent study reported in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has found that Yoga and meditation are more effective than memory exercises like crosswords or computer games in preventing the precursory mental decline common in Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Professor Helen Lavretsky, a co-author of the study stated, “If you or your relatives are trying to improve your memory or offset the risk for developing memory loss or dementia, a regular practice of yoga and meditation could be a simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving your brain fitness.”
The study included 25 voluntary participants over the age of 55 who had disclosed a deterioration in their memory such as forgetting people’s names and faces, misplacing belongings and missing appointments. In the 12 weeks that the study ran, 11 of these volunteers participated in weekly, hour long memory exercises like crosswords and computer games, while the remaining 14 were tasked with engaging in weekly Kundalini Yoga sessions and a daily at-home 20 minute Kiran Kriya meditation. Kiran Kriya is a type of meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition, which has been practiced for thousands of years. Commonly referred to as the singing exercise, it involves singing the sounds, Saa Taa Naa Maa along with repetitive finger movements.
At the conclusion of the study, researchers found that the visual-spacial memory of the Yoga/meditation group was the most improved, while both sets of participants recorded similar verbal memory improvements. When reviewing results from a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan, the researchers discovered that even though both groups saw changes in the way brain cells connected with each other, they were only statistically significant on the Yoga/meditation group.
An important element of coping with ageing and symptoms of Alzeheimers is managing stress, anxiety and depression. Professor Helen Lavretsky of the University of California, a co-author of the study stated that, “When you have memory loss, you can get quite anxious about that and it can lead to depression.” For participants of the study, this regular practice of Kiran Kriya not only improved memory capabilities, it also improved mood and management of stress, depression and anxiety. The Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation states that just 12 minutes a day of Kundalini Yoga has been shown to reduce stress levels, improve cognition and activate the parts of the brain that are central to memory. In addition to this, they recommend practicing it in the traditional way to fully reap the benefits of the exercise, in particular adhering to the chanting of the Kiran Kriya mantra sounds ‘Saa, Taa, Naa, Maa’
If you would like to get started on the path to improved memory and cognition, why not try one of the Kiran Kriya meditations below and light one of our Vitality and Mental Clarity Aromatherapy Candles made from Pure Essential Oils and designed to register and stimulate the Limbic System of your brain.
Audio CD – Alzheimers Research and Prevention Foundation.
Video 1 – Original Kirtan Kriya Kundalini Yoga Meditation with the Mantra Sa Ta Na Ma. Duration: 30 minutes.
Video 2 – Catalyst Yogi, Let Go of the Past Kundalini Yoga Meditation. Duration 11 minutes.
Video 3 – Ruadhan from Allots Yoga gives an in depth explanation of how to do Kiran Kriya and meditation. Duration 30 minutes.
Video 4 – Kajal Pandey guided Kiran Kriya meditation. Duration 17 minutes.
Read the latest updates to the Research White Paper on Yoga and Medical Meditation as Alzheimer’s Prevention Medicine.