Yoga reduces stress for caretakers


Six months ago, UCLA released a study showing that a specific type of yoga helped reduce stress for caretakers of people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. They didn’t know what at the time, but they do now.

Kirtan Kriya to the rescue

Practicing chantic yogic meditation (Kirtan Kriya Meditation) for just 12 minutes a day over eight weeks increased the immune system’s response to inflammation which leads to a multitude of chronic health problems.

Caretakers need attention too

Caring for a loved one stricken by dementia can create significant life stress. Older caregivers report higher levels of stress and depression as well as low levels of satisfaction, energy and enjoyment of life. Showing higher biological markers for inflammation is part of the stress response. As cases of dementia increase in future decades, we need to also pay attention to people taking care of them.

Vulnerable to stress and cardiovascular disease

“We know that chronic stress places caregivers at a higher risk for developing depression,” she said. “On average, the incidence and prevalence of clinical depression in family dementia caregivers approaches 50%. Caregivers are also twice as likely to report high levels of emotional distress.” Furthermore, many caretakers are elderly as well and are also vulnerable to stress and increased rate of cardiovascular disease.

Only 12 minutes a day

Psychosocial interventions like meditation reduce the adverse effects of stress on physical and mental health. To find out why, volunteers were divided into two groups. One learned the 12-minute Kirtan Kriya yoga and performed it every day. The other group practiced relaxation listening to instrumental music also for 12-minutes. Blood samples were taken before and after the study.

“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.”

Source: UCLA, MedicalNewsToday


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