Kundalini yoga, which focuses on breathing, meditation and mental visualization, was beneficial for older women who had risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and were worried about episodes of memory decline, according to a new study from UCLA Health (USA).
Researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Semel University of California, Los Angeles, using a type of MRI that measures activity in regions and subregions of the brain, found that kundalini yoga, which combines movement and meditation and focuses on breathing, mantra repetition and mental visualization, increases connectivity in the area brain, which can be affected by stress and is associated with memory loss.
Led by psychiatrist Dr. Helen Lavretzky, the researchers examined the effects of yoga versus gold standard memory training (MET) on connectivity in subregions of the hippocampus, an important brain region for learning and memory. MET is based on techniques that use verbal and visual associations, as well as practical strategies, to improve memory.
Researchers concluded that kundalini yoga training appears to better target stress-related hippocampal connections , whereas MET may better target sensory integration subregions of the hippocampus, supporting better memory reliability.
The study included 22 participants who were part of a larger randomized controlled trial examining the effects of yoga on the risk of Alzheimer's disease. The average age among the 11 yoga participants was about 61 years old and in the MET group about 65 years old. All had self-reported decline in memory function during the previous year and one or more cardiovascular risk factors, which may also increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease. These include plaque buildup in the arteries, a recent heart attack, diabetes, and treatment for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.