Daily Kirtan Kriya and other mind-body practices may keep Alzheimer’s at bay, researchers say

Rearview shot of a senior woman practising yoga indoors
Rearview shot of a senior woman practising yoga indoors

Recent research has found that short daily practice of mind-body therapy – such as Kirtan Kriya – may help alleviate some of the signs and symptoms that often precede dementia.

Dr. Kim Innes, a professor at West Virginia University School of Public Health in Morgantown, has led a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that examined older adults experiencing memory difficulties who practiced 12 minutes per day of music listening or simple yoga meditation for 12 weeks.

Samples of their blood from before and after the 3 months of therapy revealed changes in levels of certain markers with associations to cell aging and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation suggests the practice of Kirtan Kriya, a type of meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition, which has been practiced for thousands of years. This meditation is sometimes called a singing exercise, as it involves singing the sounds, Saa Taa Naa Maa along with repetitive finger movements, or mudras. “This non-religious practice can be adapted to several lengths, but practicing it for just 12 minutes a day has been shown to reduce stress levels and increase activity in areas of the brain that are central to memory,” the organisation states.

The results also showed links between increases in these two markers and improvements in some of the cognitive and “psychosocial” measures.

Stress, mood, sleep, quality of life, and other symptoms improved in both groups, but the biggest improvements occurred in the meditation group. These improvements lasted or even strengthened during the 3 months following the intervention.

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