Yoga Cares for Caregivers

For the last few decades, yoga has been touted as a restorative physical and mental exercise. Ironic, because yoga has been in existence in India for millenniums.

But with the 60s and a renewed interest in the East, yoga and meditation have become ubiquitous. Adherents carry yoga mats while walking on streets or riding public transit. Studios have opened up like wildfire. Now, with the LuluLemon franchise, yoga has become big money.

In caregiving, researchers from the UCLA have found that meditation from yoga can ameliorate depression in caregivers and may alleviate problematic cognitive functioning.

Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, said in a statement, quoted by The Huffington Post: "To a varying degree, many psychosocial interventions like this have been shown to enhance mental health for caregivers."

The study researcher added in her statement: "Yet given the magnitude of the caregiver burden, it is surprising that very few interventions translate into clinical practice. The cost of instruction and offering classes may be one factor. Our study suggests a simple, low-cost yoga program can enhance coping and quality of life for the caregivers."

Lavretsky's findings could be helpful in overcoming caregiver's depression. The American Medical Association reports about 50% of Alzheimer's disease caregivers go on to develop psychological distress.

The experimental groups were split into two units. One was taught a 12-minute yoga routine and a chanting meditation - Kirtan Kriya. The other group relaxed with eyes closed for 12 minutes to a relaxation CD with instrumental music. The yoga group scored higher but both units showed improvement in mood.

Yoga and meditation could be of significant value in Assisted Living and Continuing Care residences.