From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published July 26, 2012 09:12 AM

Does Yoga Actually Work?

The answer is yes, and now we know why. According to a recently published UCLA study, practicing a certain form of chanting yogic meditation for at least 12 minutes a day for 8 weeks will reduce the biological mechanism responsible for increasing the immune system's inflammation response. When that inflammation response is constantly active, it can lead to a number of chronic health problems. In other words, a brief daily meditation in the form of yoga has been shown to reduce stress. This is particularly true for people who care for those who suffer from neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease and dementia.


Senior author of the study, Dr. Helen Lavretsky of the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and her colleagues conducted their research with 45 family dementia caregivers. They observed the individuals as they performed a certain type of yoga known as Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM).

The caregivers of people with dementia are truly saints for taking care of frail and demented family members. This type of job can cause a significant amount of stress. Older adult caregivers have reported higher levels of stress and depression, and lower levels of satisfaction, vigor, and life. And of course, higher levels of stress can lead to a general decline in health. This makes them the perfect candidate to experiment with yoga.

During the study, the caregivers were separated into two groups. One group was asked to perform the Kirtan Kriya yoga meditation for 12 minutes a day for eight weeks. The other was asked to relax in a quite space with their eyes closed listening to relaxing instrumental music for the same time period.

At the beginning and end of the eight weeks, blood samples were taken. Those who participated in yoga had reduced inflammatory and antiviral proteins which are responsible for increased stress.

Dr. Lavretsky is a member of the Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Program at UCLA, which provides support to patients and caregivers. She has now incorporated yoga into the caregiver program. "Caregivers often don't have the time, energy or contacts that could bring them a little relief from the stress of taking care of a loved one with dementia," said Lavretsky, "so practicing a brief form of yogic meditation, which is easy to learn, is a useful tool."

This study has been published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

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