Issue 34

RESEARCH: Kirtan Kriya Effects Cognitive Function, Memory and Stress

In three separate studies published this year and in one that is on-going, Kirtan Kriya, as taught by the Kundalini master Yogi Bhajan, was shown to increase short term memory, cognitive function and to reduce stress. In separate studies at the University of Pennsylania, and one continuing at the University of California (UCLA), researchers measured cerebral blood flow in the brain (rCBF) using single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) to determine which areas are more active and which are less during the practice. One study compared long-term meditators to non-meditators. Another study compared those practicing the meditation with those who listened to a Mozart violin concerto. A third study compared the more active meditation to a relaxation exercise.

Kirtan Kriya is a 12-minute active meditation that include mudra (hand gesture), mantra (out loud, whispered and repeated silently), and visual imagery,

In the on-going study at UCLA, those practicing 12-minutes of Kirtan Kriya meditation are being compared with those using a 25-minute relaxation tape. Preliminary results from the 39 caregivers who have already completed the study (23 practiced Kirtan Kriya, 16 listened to a relaxation audio tape) indicate:

Both groups demonstrated improvement in depression and anxiety, resilience and perceived burden.

The meditation group improved significantly more compared to the relaxation group on measures of perceived support, physical suffering, energy, emotional and well-being, as well as in cognitive tests of memory and executive function.

A subgroup of the meditation group also showed marked improvement in the reduction of inflammation This groundbreaking work also reveals that Kirtan Kriya increases telomerase, an exquisite marker of health and longevity, in only 12 minutes a day.

In a study at the University of Pennsylvania, published in 2010 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that compared Kirtan Kriya meditation to listening to Mozart, findings show:

CBF was increased in the Kirtan Kriya group in the frontal lobe regions and the right superior parietal lobe

In contrast, a non-significant increase in cerebral blood flow was seen in the music group in the amygdala and precuneus areas of the brain

The Kirtan Kriya group had statistically significant improvements in a neuropsychological test which measures cognition by asking subjects to name as many animals as they can in one minute

Improvements were also seen in the Kirtan Kriya group in three other cognitive tests that measured general memory, attention and cognition

There were no statistically significant improvements in cognition in the music group

Participants found the meditation to be enjoyable and beneficial and perceived their cognitive function to be improved

In the study published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine in 2010, researchers found an activation of rCBF on the posterior cingulate, which is associated with memory. This corroborates other studies that show cognitive improvement in memory after the practice.

For Links to these findings online:

Meditation Effects on Cognitive Function and Cerebral Blood Flow In Subjects with Memory Loss: A Preliminary Study

Cerebral blood flow changes during chanting meditation

Cerebral blood flow differences between long-term meditators and non-meditators

Meditation Use to Reduce Stress Response and Improve Cognitive Functioning in Older Family Dementia Caregivers Methods

For more information on Kirtan Kriya and the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation which has partially underwritten these studies, please visit

www.alzheimersprevention.org/research.htm.

RESEARCH: MBSR IMPROVES ANXIETY

In a randomized controlled trial conducted at the University of Bergen in Norway, seventy-six self-referred patients were randomized to MBSR or a waiting-list control condition. Treatment completers improved significantly on all outcome measures compared to controls. The percentage of participants reaching recovered status was highest for symptom measures of depression and anxiety, and lower for worry and trait anxiety. The eight-week program includes mindfulness meditation, body scan and yoga. Participants meet each week and also practice on their own at home.

This study is soon to be published in Behav Res Ther. You can read the abstract here

 

About the Author

Amy Weintraub

Amy Weintraub E-RYT 500, MFA, YACEP, C-IAYT, founded the LifeForce Yoga® Healing Institute, which trains yoga and health professionals internationally, and is the author of Yoga for Depression and Yoga Skills for Therapists. The LifeForce Yoga protocol is used by health care providers worldwide. She is involved in ongoing research on the effects of yoga on mood.

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“I came hoping to learn to move past some of the obstacles blocking my creativity. Over the course of this weekend, I feel I’ve gained a certain measure of faith in myself and in my ability to change. I also had some realizations that I believe will be very helpful to me. I feel encouraged. Both the content and presentation of this program were so well-thought out that I can’t think of any way to improve it.” — Andrea Gollin, writer & editor, Miami, FL
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“I integrate strategies like mantra tones and pranayama, but above all I invite myself and those I teach to cultivate svadhyaya, to practice self-observation without judgment.” — Barbara Sherman, RYT 200, LFYP, Tucson, AZ
I absolutely love this stuff! I have been using it with my clients and I am just finding it to be so incredibly helpful. There seriously something for everything. Although I am not as skilled as I hope to be someday, even at my level of training I’m finding that I am beginning to figure out what to do. It just blows my mind! - Christine Brudnicki, MS, LPC
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