Washington, July 25 Six months after researchers showed how a specific yoga involving daily meditation cut down stress levels of those caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients now know the reason why.
Practising Kirtan Kriya, a meditation chant exercise originating from Kundalini Yoga, for just 12 minutes daily for eight weeks, led to a easing of the biological mechanisms behind a spike in the immune system’s inflammation response.
Inflammation, which is caused by how our immune system responds to illness, infection, bacterial or viral attack, if constantly activated, can contribute to a multitude of chronic health problems, the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology reports.
Helen Lavretsky, senior study co-author and professor of psychiatry at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behaviour, and colleagues found in their work with 45 family dementia caregivers that 68 of their genes responded differently after Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KLM), resulting in reduced inflammation.
Caregivers are the unsung heroes for their yeoman’s work in taking care of loved ones that have been stricken with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, said Lavretsky, who also directs UCLA’s late-life depression, stress and wellness research programme, according to an UCLA statement.
In the study, participants were randomised into two groups. The meditation group was taught the 12-minute yogic practice that included Kirtan Kriya, which was performed daily at the same time for eight weeks.
The other group was asked to relax in a quiet place with their eyes closed while listening to instrumental music on a relaxation CD, also for 12 minutes daily for eight weeks.
Blood samples were taken at the beginning of the study and again at the end of the eight weeks.
“The goal of the study was to determine if meditation might alter the activity of inflammatory and antiviral proteins that shape immune cell gene expression,” said Lavretsky.
“Our analysis showed a reduced activity of those proteins linked directly to increased inflammation. This is encouraging news.”
Kirtan Kriya involves chanting and using finger poses (‘mudras’). This simple exercise reduces stress levels, increases circulation in the brain, promotes focus and clarity, and stimulates mind-body-spirit connection.