AlzU Blog

The Alzheimer's Research & Prevention Foundation's Study on Brain Health, Yoga and Meditation

The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation (ARPF) in Tucson, Arizona, is working on a new training program to educate health care workers on Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). The program is called “Brain Longevity Therapy Training Program,” and it is comprised of 4 categories including diet, stress management, exercise and spiritual fitness.  Each of these 4 segments of diet and lifestyle modifications were implemented into the Brain Longevity Training Program for their positive effects on brain health.   

Interesting enough, the spiritual fitness component of the program involves yoga and meditation - and not just any run of the mill yoga program, but, rather, a specific type of yoga and meditation called “Kirtan Kriya.”   

Kirtan Kriya and Brain Health

Kirtan Kriya is an ancient yoga and meditation practice that originated in India. The practice is composed of a combination of focused breath work, visualization,  chanting, and finger movements (called mudras).  So, how does this unique practice of Kirtan Kriya work to improve brain health?  According to practitioners of the ancient tradition, Kirtan Kriya stimulates the areas of the brain associated with each of the 5 senses.  There are several variations and levels of the meditation taught by Kirtan Kriya practitioners. Basically, the practice involves a combination of chanting simple sounds (called mantras), while performing key hand positions(mudras).  These techniques are performed while maintaining a specific visualization of concentration.

Benefits of Kirtan Kriya

Recent studies have shown several benefits of regular Kirtan Kriya practice, including:

  • Improvement in blood flow to the brain (including specific areas involved in memory retrieval)
  • Increase in brain wave activity in the frontal lobe resulting in the sharpening of attention, concentration, and focus
  • Increase in brain chemicals and important neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, dopamine and norepinephrine (all which help the brain function better)
  • Increase in energy levels and improvement in the quality of sleep
  • Reduction in cortisol levels (the stress hormone)
  • Improvement of mood, psychological health and spiritual well-being

Research Study on Kirtan Kriya and Brain Health

The effects of Kirtan Kriya on brain functioning and memory was the subject of a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.  The study found that the practice of Kirtan Kriya improved brain functioning and memory by increasing connectivity in the brain.  The practice was also found to decrease mood swings.

The study involved a group of people, aged 55 and older, who reported mild anxiety related to memory problems.  Some of the study participants showed signs of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The study was 12 weeks in length. For 30 minutes per week, one group attended a Kundalini yoga class-focused on breathing and meditation.  They practiced this specific form of Kirtan Kriya meditation for 15 minutes each day by performing specific sounds, focused meditation, and hand mudras (positions).  A second group involved eleven participants who attended an hour per week of classroom instruction, followed by daily practice of mental exercises said to help boost brain functioning.

Study Conclusion

Both groups in the study were found to show improvement in the region of the brain involved in communication and language; but, the yoga group also exhibited a significant improvement in memory performance and mood.  The Kirtan Kriya group’s results showed improvement in increased brain connectivity and verbal memory.

Video Demonstration of Kirtan Kriya Meditation

Continue learning about the practice of Kirtan Kriya Meditation and view a video demonstration by CLICKING HERE.

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