Yoga Increases Memory Cognizance 

Now they tell us?

New research suggests that yoga and meditation can give you a flexible body and inner peace, and combining the two could help improve cognitive function.

The study, led by a team of researchers from UCLA and Australia’s University of Adelaide, is the first to compare yoga and meditation against memory training, which has often been considered the best way to manage mild cognitive impairment.

The team followed a group of 25 participants, all aged 55 and over, during a three-month course of either yoga and meditation or memory training. Most of the baby boomers, hippies, flower children, and back-to-the-landers who rediscovered yoga 50 years ago will have an edge… they always did.

Participants had all shown signs of mild cognitive impairment, reporting problems with their memory such as easily misplacing things or forgetting names, faces, or appointments.

Participants were split into two groups. Eleven participants attended memory enhancement training and practiced memory exercises daily, while the other 14 participants attended Kundalini yoga classes and practiced 20 minutes of Kirtan Kriya meditation daily, which involves chanting, hand movements, and visualization of light. It has been practiced in India for hundreds of years to prevent cognitive decline in mature adults.

All participants received brain scans and completed memory tests at the beginning and end of the three months.

The results showed that although all participants demonstrated similar improvements in verbal memory skills, the skills that are needed for remembering names, it was the participants in the group who practiced yoga and meditation that showed better improvements in visual-spatial memory skills, which help with recalling locations and navigating.

In addition, participants in the yoga and meditation group also showed more significant improvements in levels of depression, anxiety, coping skills, and resilience to stress, all of which are especially important when coming to terms with the onset of cognitive impairment.

Commenting on the significance of the results, Harris Eyre, the study’s lead author, said, “Historically and anecdotally, yoga has been thought to be beneficial in aging well, but this is the scientific demonstration of that benefit. We’re converting historical wisdom into the high level of evidence required for doctors to recommend therapy to their patients.”

Senior author Helen Lavretsky added, “If you or your relations are trying to improve your memory or offset the risk for developing memory loss or dementia, a regular practice of yoga and meditation could be a simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving your brain fitness.”

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

On a personal note, I have had the pleasure to work and rehabilitate my 90-year-old mother after she fell and broke a hip last winter. 

Up until that time, she had thrived, lived alone with her 2 adoring cats, worked part-time as a community volunteer for the humane society, volunteered at the hospital, and drove herself to Eugene to play bridge with her buddies. She enjoyed living an independent life after 3 marriages, 3 spoiled kids, and many grandkids and great-grandkids. It all came to a sudden halt due to the break. 

She suffered from diet changes, massage therapy, acupuncture, exercises, mostly yoga-based, and walking. After 8 months, she is back to better than normal, with sassy energy and her usual activities. 

This is testimony to the power of diet, Yoga, meditation and inspiration. I think we can say yoga practice spills over to benefit lives in many ways.

We started classes on the beach back in 1985 when Yoga was directly linked to devil worship and contrary to Catholic Church doctrine. 

Now, there are studios all around with guides from all walks of life, ages and nationalities. Find one who you like, their voice tone and verbiage. 

Most offer the first class free, or they used to. Vallarta has attracted a whole gaggle of yoga teachers, ceremonies, events, and life coaches… so take it easy when searching.

Then there are the yoga retreats that bring students and teachers from around the world to our little corner of sea and sand to breathe in the positive vibes and exhale the negative.

Healing in these times of unrest, uncertainty, challenges, and weird weather. One has gotta keep grounded and focused.


  • Krystal Frost

    Krystal earned a degree in Asian Medicine from the University of Guadalajara, then Bastyr University for an acupuncture specialty, and has served our community since 2004. She has written a health column for the Mirror for over 20 years. Many thanks to my readers over two decades!

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