Past research has shown how yoga could help to lower depression and improve cognitive functioning among caregivers -- and now, a new study is showing exactly what is responsible for that effect.
University of California, Los Angeles, researchers found that participating in Kirtan Kriya Meditation -- a kind of yoga practice -- is linked with a decrease in inflammation.
"This is encouraging news," study researcher Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA, said in a statement. "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."
The new study, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, included 45 caregivers for family members with dementia who were split up into two groups: one that did the 12-minute yoga practice once a day for eight weeks, and one that just listened to relaxing music for 12 minutes once a day for eight weeks.
The researchers found that the caregivers who participated in the yoga practice experienced a change in the response of 68 genes, leading to the decrease in inflammation. Inflammation has been linked with health problems like heart disease, depression, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, Scientific American reported.
According to the American Medical Association, 16 percent of caregivers have worsened health after they've begun caring for someone. And about half of Alzheimer's disease caregivers go on to develop psychological distress.
In a previous study conducted by the UCLA researchers in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, they found that Kirtan Kriya was linked with better scores on a depression and mental health scale than just relaxation.