Can Yoga Affect Alzheimer's Disease For The Better?
Any form of exercise benefits your overall health, but did you know that yoga can improve brain function in addition to keeping your body in shape?
Although a headstand is not for everyone, yoga can be. You can practice at your own pace by sinking into each pose, allowing the flow of movements to bring you into the present moment.
Many studies that link yoga to brain health have been inconclusive – until now. In some studies, researchers compared brain changes in people who do yoga regularly to those that don't – the results showed drastic brain changes that are beneficial in the former. v
Adding yoga to your daily routine can help improve memory & attention span. It can act as a mood stabilizer and even boost your immune system.
Yoga - The Mind and Body
The word "yoga" means union, representing the unification of the mind and body. Yoga (union) also demonstrates your connection to all things – bringing you into the ultimate reality.
But what is yoga? It is an ancient spiritual discipline that originated in India and involves:
Yoga movements should be comfortable and steady. Poses should be unique to your body because each body moves differently. Deep breathing exercises are incorporated into the practice, prompting you to become more aware of yourself and your surroundings.
If you are interested in trying yoga, you can start with this guided session for beginners: 10-Minute Morning Yoga
Improving The Way The Brain Works
Recent studies show that yoga can have a beneficial effect on neurogenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's.
According to Helen Lavretsky, MD, and Professor-In Residence in the Psychiatry Department at UCLA, "Yoga has neuroplastic effects on the brain that may translate into other health benefits, like better mood and cognition." She believes that yoga eases day-to-day stresses by clearing the mind of clutter.
Age is the number one risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. Evidence shows that yoga reduces your chance of developing the disease altogether.
One study suggests that yoga is particularly suitable for adults over the age of 55. The research concluded that older adults with cognitive impairment showed memory improvement, more independence with daily activities, and reduced symptoms of depression.
Kirtan Kriya Yoga
The Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation in Tucson, Arizona, reported that a particular form of yoga meditation, known as Kirtan Kriya, can have immediate, long-term benefits for the brain.
Kirtan Kriya is an ancient meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition that involves:
- Focused breathing
- Singing or chanting
- Finger movements called mudras
Kirtan Kriya yoga stimulates the senses and balances the left and right brain by sending signals to the hypothalamus. The fingers and mouth (singing/chanting) activate the motor and sensory fields in the brain. Kriya yoga also stimulates the occipital lobe that controls perception and spatial awareness. Here is an 11-Minute Guided Kirtan Kriya Meditation that you can try at home.
Right at Home Is All Aboard
Although research is still underway, it is safe to say that including yoga in your daily routine can promote brain functionality.
Right at Home Boston and North approaches dementia by providing cognitive support to you and your senior loved ones. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for those we serve, and if researchers inform us of how yoga can improve brain health, then we are all for it. Always check with your personal physician before starting any exercise program, but working our mind and body together is great pathway to health and a better mental state.