Kundalini Yoga Program Reduces Stress in Caregivers

A Kundalini yoga Kirtan Kriya meditation program showed positive results in reducing depression and boosting mental health in caregivers taking care of family members with dementia, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

The study involved 49 caregivers ranging in age from 45 to 91 and participants were randomly assigned to two programs: Kundalini yoga Kirtan Kriya meditation or passive relaxation with instrumental music, the LA Times reported. The Kundalini program included breathing, chanting and repetitive finger movements, call mudras, and both programs were done for 12 minutes a day for eight weeks.

“We know that chronic stress places caregivers at a higher risk for developing depression,” said lead study author and professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Dr. Helen Lavretsky, in a news release. “On average, the incidence and prevalence of clinical depression in family dementia caregivers approaches 50 percent. Caregivers are also twice as likely to report high levels of emotional distress.”

The Kundalini group reported 65 percent had a 50 percent improvement on a depression rating scale, and 52 percent showed a 50 percent improvement on a mental health scale, according to the LA Times report. Those who did passive relaxation showed a 31.2 percent improvement in depression and a 19 percent improvement for mental health.

But the bigger difference was seen on the cellular level, where the Kundalini group had a 43.3 percent improvement in telomerase activity, compared to the relaxation group with only a 3.7 percent boost.  Telomeres, according to the study, are repetitions of DNA sequences at the end of a chromosome that protect it from damage that can lead to health problems. Higher telomerase activity can help improve the durability of immune cells, the report stated.