There are a number of benefits of yoga including relaxation, increased flexibility, tone and stamina. Now researchers at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behaviour have found that yoga can help reduce chronic inflammation caused by stress. The researchers reported that this, in turn, can also benefit people who care for individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
45 individuals who cared for a member of their family who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia were recruited; blood samples were taken to attain their levels of stress hormone cortisol and also their levels of proinflamiammatory cytokines which are an indication of the body’s immune system and the levels of inflation within the body.
The researchers assigned one group of caregivers to learn Kirtan Kriya Meditation. This is a type of chanting meditative yoga which involves pairing specific hand movements to chanting. This was practiced for 12 minutes daily for eight weeks. The other participants were assigned to the control group they were also asked to assign 12 minutes daily to relax in a peaceful place with their eyes closed listening to instrumental relaxation music.
The follow up blood samples demonstrated that individuals who had completed the 12 weeks of Kirtan Kriya Meditation showed significantly reduced inflammation in their body and their immune system was less reactive. These results suggest that the Kirtan Kriya meditation could be a simple, non-toxic and powerful way to spend 12 minutes of the day.
Caring for individuals with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and dementia is regarded as a stressful life event. Previous research has shown that carers often suffer from stress related illnesses. Therefore, if Kirtan Kriya Meditation could be taught to carers, they could avoid illness, save the NHS millions of pounds and have a generally improved quality of life.