Yoga and Meditation Benefit Many with Health Issues, including Cognitive Impairment & early Alzheimers Disease
Meditation has emerged as an efficacious practice which improves attention, awareness psychological health. Researchers from Shri Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, have shown that supervised mindfulness meditation benefitspatients with Mild Cognitive Impairment and early Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in terms of memory and orientation language and visual-spatial perception. It has potential as a therapeutic approach for management of cognitive decline associated with neurological disorders.
Mild Cognitive Impairment & early form of Alzheimer’s is a condition in which memory deteriorates, but a person remains functionally independent. Among several treatment options, meditation is one non-invasive and cost-effective approach to bring relief to such patients.
Dr. Ramshekhar N Menon, Additional Professor, SCTIMST, Trivandrum, Dr. C. Kesavadas, Dr. Bejoy Thomas, and Dr. Aley Alexander (SCTIMST) Dr. S Krishnan (Govt Medical College, Trivandrum) conducted a two-phased study with separate objectives for each phase.
The first phase was designed to explore neural correlations of mindfulness and study regions of brain activation enhancements among seasoned mindfulness practitioners and healthy non-practitioners through Imaging Biomarkers, which is the first of its kind multimodality imaging work in dementia from India.
The second phase was planned to verify the changes in cognitive performance of patients with MCI prior to, as well as subsequent to, mindfulness training. The team carried out cognitive retraining weekly for 1 hour and provided feedback on the performance of the retraining tasks at the end of each session. The patients were given home-based tasks for practicing during the rest of the days. They also developed a 10 Weeks mindfulness meditation-based program for patients called ‘Mindfulness Unified Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (MUCBT)’ training program.
Similarly, studies have also found out that there is a connection between health, mind and heart and yoga and meditation can greatly help us living a healthy and balanced life.
It is said that now the time has come when along with science, technology should be added in yoga and meditation.
According to Prof KK Deepak from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, varied heart diseases and conditions can be addressed holistically through Yoga. Yoga practice provides individuals with better resilience, adaptive capacity and adaptability to various conditions of the heart. They are better adapted to the challenges imposed on nervous system.
Available scientific evidence suggests that the practice of slow breathing makes us better adapted to challenges and crisis related to movement or flow of blood.
Yoga is useful for reducing inflammation, stress and hypoxia (insufficient oxygen supply to the cells and tissues). Yoga reduces susceptibility to heart rhythm problems.
Considering the importance of yoga, Ministry of Science and technology has now initiated a specialized programme ‘Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation (SATYAM)’ that is aimed at investigating the effect of Yoga and Meditation on physical and mental health and wellbeing as well as on the body, brain, and mind in terms of basic processes and mechanisms.
More than 100 projects have been supported under SATYAM and around 40 research papers have been published in peer reviewed journals. More than 70 institutions are associated with SATYAM programme.
Research supported under this programme cover various diseases like life style diseases (stroke, obesity, heart disease and type-2 diabetes), arthritis, lower back pain, kidney related disease, cancer, COPD, women health (PCOS, infertility, pregnancy related problems, menopause) and so on.
Studies funded under this programme have shown that Yoga results in significant improvement in diseases like schizophrenia, epilepsy, dementia, mild cognitive impairment, sleep, autism spectrum disorder, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and also in tackling social issues like anxiety, dépression, suicidal tendencies, dependence on alcohol & opioid, excessive use of internet and so on.
Based on the positive results many investigators have suggested yoga as add on therapy in clinical practice. A special call has also been announced under SATYAM to explore the effectiveness of Yoga in combating COVID 19.