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Science discovers how yoga takes care of caretakers

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People who take on the enormous responsibility of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia – an estimated five million Americans and counting with the expanding aging population – are far more likely to suffer ill effects themselves thanks to the incredible stress load, and though yoga has often been said to help ease this burden, no one knew why until now.

Dr. Helen Lavretsky and her team at the UCLA Semel Institue for Neuroscience and Human Behavior investigated why a mere twelve minutes of Kirtan Kriya Meditation as opposed to simple quiet time with a music or meditation soundtrack seemed to relieve the chronic stress of caregivers more effectively.

“The goal of the study was to determine if meditation might alter the activity of inflammatory and antiviral proteins that shape immune cell gene expression,” said Lavretsky. “Our analysis showed a reduced activity of those proteins linked directly to increased inflammation.

“This is encouraging news. 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.”

Caregivers are at higher risk for developing depression as well as a host of stress-related illnesses including “…’impaired resilience’ to stress and an increased rate of cardiovascular disease and mortality,” so the news that such a small amount of “me” time can reap such benefits is one small reason to breathe a brief sigh of relief.

Full story at Newswise.

Benefits of yoga.

Photo credit: Fotolia

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