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Yoga Shows Promise For Dementia Patients

The art of yoga has long been beneficial for the human mind and body, and new research now shows that it could also help reduce the risk of dementia, particularly in seniors. The latest research was documented in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, and was led by Dr. Lavretsky, who followed twenty-five participants over the age of fifty-five who took par in a three-month workshop which included Kundalini yoga and Kirtan Kriya meditation. The results were highly positive, and showed promise for the retention of cognitive function in adults. Medical News Today explains: “The participants who practiced yoga and meditation demonstrated greater improvements in visual-spatial memory skills – the ability to navigate and remember locations – than those who engaged in memory enhancement training. Additionally, the yoga-meditation group fared better than the memory enhancement training group when it came to levels of anxiety and depression, as well as coping skills and stress resilience.”

Each participant in the study was required to take a mental memory test before they began the twelve-week program, once completed, each adult took the same test. This is how researchers were able to determine the types of changes which had occurred.

Learning About Dementia

Dementia is a heart breaking illness, which affects men and women across the globe. The progressive neurological disorder destroys memories, as well as mental and physical functionality over time. There is no one known cause or cure for dementia, although some ground work has been found in medications which may slow the progression. Dr. Lavretsky, is quoted by the Yoga Journal in saying:

“In a way, both yoga and meditation are ‘brain exercises’ that engage different parts of the brain based on the components of practice (breathing, movement, postures, chanting, visualization, concentration), and can help the brain form new connections and recover from injuries, or as we call it, to stimulate neuroplasticity.” Some of the risk factors which have been associated with eventually suffering from dementia include obesity, cigarette smoking, binge drinking, and inactivity. With this new information about yoga available, it is the hope of researchers that many men and women who are at risk of the disease will be able to use preventative measures to avoid it.

Watching Out For MCI

Another way that yoga and meditation can aid the senior population is through the reduction of risk for MCI. Also known as Mild cognitive impairment, MCI can be a predecessor to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, causing memory issues and other cognitive impairments. As men and women age, these impairments become more and more apparent, and while there is no way to turn back time or end the aging process, you can slow it down through yoga, or so the most recent studies say. On the topic of MCI and its associated symptoms, The Daily Times says: “Though these changes are not severe enough to interfere with a person’s independence and day-to-day activities, symptoms can worsen with time, increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, long-term studies indicate that around 10-20 percent of adults aged 65 and older are likely to have MCI. Of these adults, it is estimated that around 6-15 per cent develop dementia each year.”

If you notice any signs of MCI or dementia, it is important to report them to your doctor as soon as possible. Early detection of these disorders allows for a greater chance of slowing them down, and one day possibly finding a cure. Waiting for symptoms to worsen is not an option if you want to be progressive.

Ways To Incorporate Yoga Into Your Life

For some men and women, a three-month yoga retreat just isn’t a feasible option, due to finances and time commitment. Fortunately, you can incorporate yoga and meditation into your life easily without ever leaving home. If you have never done yoga before, it is a good idea to take at least one or two beginner level classes, just to get the basics. Check your community newspaper for free or cheap classes that could help you get started. Once you understand the foundation of yoga, you can begin working it into your every day routine. Maybe it is something you can do in the morning when you first wake up to start the day, or after you garden in the yard and are feeling close to nature. Some people perform yoga before bed, while others prefer to do it in downtown at work.

Just like yoga, meditation can be achieved just about anywhere, so long as you are in the right mind frame, and you have a calm and quiet area to practice. While expert meditators can work through the bustling noise of the city to find their inner space, beginners usually need a quiet room, or soft music to concentrate. Focus on emptying your mind, and relaxing your body, the rest will come in time.

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