Various studies have shown that yoga and meditation can help reduce the risk of several diseases – physical as well as mental. With specific, breathing techniques, body movements and alignment of organs, yoga can help achieve overall wellbeing of the body and shield against a number of diseases. The risk of dreaded diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, too, can be reduced with yoga can help slow brain decline, one of the primary causes of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease and it can also help improve memory and cognition.
A study by the University of California, Los Angeles, US, found that a three-month course of Kundalini yoga and Kirtan Kriya meditation practice helped minimise the cognitive and emotional problems that often precede Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Kirtan Kriya is a type of meditation that involves chanting and hand movements and visualisation of light. The study also found that yoga and meditation were even more effective than the memory enhancement exercises for cognitive impairment. Senior author Helen Lavretsky noted that yoga and meditation not only improved memory, but they also provided ‘a broader benefit than memory training because it also helped with mood, anxiety and coping skills.’ This study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Did you know that stress is one of the important factors that could also lead to Alzheimer’s? A 2013 study said that ‘stress steroids in the brain can impair memory and increase the amount of plaque-building proteins.’ Yoga is an excellent way to reduce and prevent stress and can slow the progression of dementia.
Here are some yoga asanas that you must do to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia:
1) Bent knee downward facing dog pose: This is a variation of the downward facing dog position that will relieve the tension in your hamstrings and your back. This will also increase blood flow to the brain and help improve memory.
2) Meradanda mudra: This simple mudra will help calm your mind and help release stress from the body. This will also help you focus your mind.
3) Hastapadotasana: Forward bending poses like this, are good for increasing brain power and sharpening memory by sending a rush of blood to your brain and head.
4) Halasana: This improves blood circulation to the brain and should be practised regularly to remain sharp even in the old age.