Improving the effects of dementia with yoga

What is dementia? Dementia is a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. Subtypes include Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, and fronto-temporal dementia. Of all the subtypes of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia diagnosed. Staggering numbers of 50%-75% are the percentages of Alzheimer diagnosis(1).

Furthermore, it is estimated that in 2014 about 47 million people had dementia around the world with this number due to increase to 131.5 million by year 2050. In Australia the third leading cause of death is dementia. People diagnosed with dementia deteriorate gradually and die from complications such as respiratory failure or other infections. As the population ages the cases of dementia are due to increase as well as the number of deaths related to dementia. In addition, more than 353,800 people live with dementia in Australia and this number is projected to increase to 553,000 by year 2030(1).

How can we reduce our risk of dementia?

Yoga, is an ascetic practice in which breathing control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily positions are used for health and relaxation purposes. How does yoga fit into reducing our risk of dementia? Yoga has been studied for many years and in most recent times studies have been done to prove its relation to specific health benefits.

Furthermore, one of the pillars of Yoga practice is meditation. Studies have shown that a 12 minute a day meditation practice is beneficial for relaxation and to increase the activity of areas of the brain that are central to memory(4).  Therefore, practicing yoga and using all its core elements will be beneficial in the efforts to reduce the risk of dementia.

In addition, in a study conducted by UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) it stated that undertaking a 3 month yoga course could reduce the risk of dementia. According to the alzheimer’s association about 10-20 percent of adults ages 65 and older are at risk of having mild cognitive impairment which if it worsens, it can lead to alzheimer’s disease(3). The study took place over a period of 12 weeks with 14 patients participating in one hour yoga class a week and 20 daily meditation sessions. At the end of the 12 weeks the group showed an improvement in the ability to remember names, list of words and memory skills. In addition, with the meditation sessions the group was also able to improve navigation skills and help remembering locations(3).

Finally, over the last few years it has been proven that yoga practice and meditation have been essential in helping adults improve their memory skills, reduce anxiety, and improve their navigation and location skills. These added benefits are key elements in the fight to reduce the risk of dementia(2).

Facts Cited

1. How Australians die: Case #3 Dementia (Alzhaimer

2. The best way to protect your memory? YOGA: Stretching and meditation are better at preventing dementia than brain training games By Madlen Davies
3. Yoga meditation may reduce dementia risk By Honor Whiteman

4. Practice the 12-minute Yoga meditation exercise.