International Yoga Day 2020: Here's how kundalini yoga and kirtan kriya can help reduce risk of dementia
Every year, 21 June is celebrated as International Yoga Day to highlight the many benefits of yoga
International Yoga Day is celebrated every year on 21 June to highlight the many benefits of yoga. Not only does yoga help us strengthen our mind and body but it also helps manage many chronic conditions and reduce the risk of other diseases.
Two billion people in the world will be over 60 years of age by the year 2050. Research has shown that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may be prevalent in 10-20 percent of this population, suggesting a very high risk of development of dementia. Hence, there is a pressing need for prevention strategies which are not only cost-effective but ones that can be made available to the masses.
This is where yoga and meditation come into play. Neural network studies show that mind-body practices have significant benefits in cognitive enhancement and preservation and improvement in thought process, stress handling and behaviour in people.
In a trial of 81 people who were randomised to try kundalini yoga (a form of yoga that combines breath, movement and sound) and memory training, it was demonstrated that both helped in memory improvement. However, only kundalini yoga helped in improving executive functioning and mood. This demonstrates a clear value of yoga practices in the prevention of dementia. Kirtan kriya, which is a form of meditation involving chanting of mantras, has also been shown to be effective in improving both memory and cognition.
It remains to be seen whether large-scale randomised trials will replicate these benefits.
How yoga and meditation work
Alternate use of mudras and chanting mantras have been suggested to enhance verbal and visual skills, awareness and attention. It also improves neural transmission and causes long-term changes in neural circuits. Additionally, yoga and meditation improve the quality of sleep and help manage depressive symptoms.
In recent times, stress has become the norm for most people. Stress increases cortisol levels and causes sympathetic nervous system overactivity which damages hippocampal circuits (the site of memory). Stress also leads to inflammation, oxidative stress, hypertension, disturbed sleep and diabetes — all of which are significant risk factors of dementia.
Meditation reduces stress. It stimulates specific points in the hypothalamus reverting stress-induced damage. Meditation also promotes relaxation and induces sleep; both of which help repair the nervous system. Additionally, meditation puts the brain in a hypometabolic state that reduces oxidative damage, mitochondrial dysfunction and consequent neuroinflammation thus reducing and stabilising brain damage.
The benefits and applications
Kirtan kriya or active meditation has been shown to reverse neurotransmitter dysfunction by increasing the levels of transmitters like acetylcholine. Yoga has shown to improve synaptic dysfunction, which is a classic characteristic of dementia. So, there are multimodal mechanisms and there is research data to support the benefit of yoga and meditation for prevention and treatment of dementia.
It's known that medical therapeutics have limited effect on dementia. On the other hand, yoga and meditation are easily available and scalable for communities and larger populations. They do not have adverse effects or any interaction with the usual medications. This suggests that yoga and meditation are simple, cost-effective and significantly relevant therapies to help prevent dementia.
This article was written by Dr Praveen Gupta, Director and HOD, Neurology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.
For more information, read our article on Dementia.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
The information provided here is intended to provide free education about certain medical conditions and certain possible treatment. It is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis, treatment, and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. If you believe you, your child or someone you know suffers from the conditions described herein, please see your health care provider immediately. Do not attempt to treat yourself, your child, or anyone else without proper medical supervision. You acknowledge and agree that neither myUpchar nor firstpost is liable for any loss or damage which may be incurred by you as a result of the information provided here, or as a result of any reliance placed by you on the completeness, accuracy or existence of any information provided herein.
By Josh Smith SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden's recent speech, newly completed policy review, and his administration's comments on human rights show he is intent on maintaining a hostile policy toward North Korea, North Korea's Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.
By Erikas Mwisi Kambale BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) -Militants killed at least 19 people, including 10 soldiers, in raids on two villages in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday, hours after President Felix Tshisekedi declared a state of siege in two provinces. A surge in attacks by armed militias and inter-communal violence in the east have killed more than 300 people since the start of the year as government troops and U.N. peacekeepers struggle to stabilize the situation.
By Alberto Fajardo MERIDA (Reuters) - Dozens of black and red hand prints cover the walls of a cave in Mexico, believed to be associated with a coming-of-age ritual of the ancient Maya, according to an archeologist who has explored and studied the subterranean cavern. The 137 prints, mostly made by the hands of children, are more than 1,200 years old, which would date them near the end of the ancient Maya's classical zenith, when major cities across present-day southern Mexico and Central America thrived amid major human achievements in math and art. The cave is located near the northern tip of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, where the towering pyramids of urban centers like Uxmal and Chichen Itza still stand, and lies some 33 feet (10 meters) below a large ceiba tree, which the Maya consider sacred.