Yoga

kundalini yoga benefits vulnerable women

BASIC

    • Kundalini yoga focuses more on meditation and breath work than physical poses.
    • This type of gentle yoga reduces inflammation and improves subjective memory performance and neuroplasticity in women at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
    • For the researchers, combining kundalini yoga practice with memory practice would be beneficial for at-risk patients.

Women are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as men, due to a number of factors such as longer life expectancy, fluctuations in estrogen levels during menopause, and genetic predisposition. But according to researchers from UCLA Health (USA), practicing yoga could help them reduce this risk.

The results of their work were published in a journal Translational psychiatryFebruary 14, 2024.

Kundalini yoga reduces memory problems

The UCLA Health study included 79 women aged at least 50 with memory problems and cerebrovascular risk factors. They were divided into two groups. The first was taking weekly classes in Kundalini yoga—a type of yoga that focuses more on meditation and breathwork than postures—for 12 weeks. The other, during the same period, completed a week’s training to improve memory.

A team of volunteers assessed cognitive function, subjective memory, depression and anxiety levels at the beginning and end of the experiment. Blood samples were also taken to test for gene expression of markers of aging and molecules associated with inflammation that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Some patients also had an MRI to assess changes in the brain mass.

The results showed that the kundalini yoga group experienced numerous improvements, including reduced subjective memory impairment, preserved brain mass, increased hippocampal activity, and improved anti-inflammatory and anti-aging markers.

Alzheimer’s disease: a combination of yoga and memory training in the fight against this disease

Based on the results, the researchers believe that kundalini yoga appears to be a promising practice for offering cognitive benefits to women at risk of Alzheimer’s disease. They also specify that the participants in the group who had the memorization exercises for 12 weeks saw an improvement in their long-term memory.

“Ideally, people should do both (yoga and memory exercises) because they train different parts of the brain and have different effects on overall health,” concludes Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a psychiatrist at UCLA Health who led the study. In the press release he adds: “Yoga has an anti-inflammatory, anti-stress and anti-aging neuroplastic effect on the brain that would complement memory training.”

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