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Yoga Can Improve Your Care

We all have read that research has shown how yoga helps lower depression and improve cognitive functioning among caregivers — and now, a new study is showing exactly what is responsible for that effect.

University of California, Los Angeles, researchers found that participating in Kirtan Kriya Meditation — a type of yoga — is linked with a decrease in inflammation.

Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA, said in a statement, “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, so practicing a brief form of yogic meditation, which is easy to learn, is a useful too.”

The journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, published a study splitting 45 caregivers for family members with dementia into two groups: one that completed the 12-minute yoga practice once a day for eight weeks, and one that just listened to relaxing music for 12 minutes once a day for eight weeks.

The researchers found that the caregivers who participated in Kirtan Kriya Meditation experienced a change in the response of 68 genes, leading to the decrease in inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to health problems such as heart disease, depression, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, as reported by the Scientific American.

According to the American Medical Association, 16 percent of caregivers have worsened their own health after they’ve begun caring for someone. Almost half of all Alzheimer’s disease caregivers go on to develop psychological distress of their own.

In a previous study conducted by the UCLA researchers in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, they found that Kirtan Kriya was linked with better scores on a depression and mental health scale than just relaxation.