Dementia is a term used to describe the symptoms of cognitive impairment or decline that include forgetfulness, repeating oneself, misplacing things and a number of other degenerative symptoms. While there are many possible causes of dementia, the two main causes are Alzheimer’s disease and a vascular version of dementia created by a series of small strokes.
There is great news now for anyone at risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other dementia!
Researchers at UCLA recently discovered that a three-month course of yoga and meditation altered the cognitive and emotional problems that often precede Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The neuroscientists involved in this study found that yoga and meditation offered much more benefit than memory training like crossword puzzles, computer programs, and other brain-testing exercises. Using yoga and meditation instead assisted study participants with their coping skills, moods, and anxiety.
The study results, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, consisted of 25 participants over the age of 55 with measurable brain and behavioral changes due to memory issues such as forgetting appointments, people’s names, and misplacing things. Participants were given brain scans and memory tests at the beginning and at the end of the study.
Eleven of the participants underwent weekly one-hour training in memory enhancement and daily 20-minute research-based memory exercises. The remaining 14 participants each had a weekly hour-long Kundalini yoga class and did daily Kirtan Kriya meditations for 20 minutes. At the end of 12 weeks, both groups had improved, but the yoga and meditation group had better visual-spatial memory skill improvement, reduced depression and anxiety, and improved coping skills where stress was concerned.
While researchers did not postulate a reason for the yoga and meditation improvements, it is possible that the fact that yoga and deep breathing techniques improve circulation throughout the body helped. The yogic deep breathing techniques bring more oxygen and blood flow to the brain. The increase in oxygen and nutrients may have been helpful for halting some of the issues with Alzheimer’s and dementia-onset.
What this means for you
If yoga has the potential to allay the processes that combine to produce dementia and Alzheimer’s, then don’t wait until you’re older. Those of us under 55 might do well to begin doing yoga weekly also to stave off any risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
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