Decrease Hypertension with Yoga Practice

Decrease Hypertension with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga, when performed mindfully, can reduce this type of stress-induced hypertension, while addressing its underlying causes. It pacifies the sympathetic nervous system and slows down the heart, while teaching the muscles and mind to relax deeply.” – Marla Apt

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control.

 

High blood pressure, because it doesn’t have any primary symptoms, is usually only diagnosed by direct measurement of blood pressure usually by a health care professional. When hypertension is chronically present over three quarters of patients are treated with antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Exercise is also known to help. So, yoga practice, which combines mindfulness practice with exercise would seem to be a good candidate practice for the treatment of hypertension. Indeed, yoga practice appears to lower blood pressure in hypertension. But yoga practices can contain a number of components including meditation, breathing exercises, postures, chanting, and mantras. It is not known, whether the postures included in the practice are necessary for the beneficial effects of yoga practice on hypertension.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga in Arterial Hypertension.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375068/ ), Cramer and colleagues recruited adult patients with primary arterial hypertension receiving antihypertensive medication. They were randomly assigned to receive either yoga training that either included postures or without postures, or a wait-list control condition. The yoga practice consisted of 90 minutes, once a week, for 12 weeks of meditation, relaxation techniques, and postures for the yoga with postures group. The participants were encouraged and provided materials to practice daily at home. They were measured before and after training and 26 weeks later for systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

 

They found that at the end of training the yoga group without postures had a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure than either the control group or the group with yoga postures. But, at follow-up, 26 weeks later, the yoga group that included postures had a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure than either the control group or the group without yoga postures. Diastolic blood pressure was not affected. It should be noted that these benefits were obtained in patients taking antihypertensive medications. So, the yoga practice benefits supplemented those of the drugs.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that on the short-term yoga practice without postures is best for blood pressure reduction in patients with hypertension while for the long-term yoga with postures is best. The relaxation produced by practicing meditation and relaxation may have the immediate consequence of decreasing blood pressure but doesn’t appear to be sustained while the exercise involved in postures, like occurs with other aerobic exercises, may have more long-term benefits for the cardiovascular system.

 

These benefits are important as reducing blood pressure in patients with hypertension is important for their health, longevity, and well-being. Yoga appears to be a safe, effective, and relatively inexpensive treatment. In addition, yoga practice has psychological and social benefits that can help to maintain practice over the long-term.

 

So, decrease hypertension with yoga practice.

 

“Yoga, along with deep breathing exercises, meditation and inner reflection, is a good adjunctive and integrative cardiovascular approach to better health, including lowering blood pressure, as this data suggests,” – David Friedman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Cramer, H., Sellin, C., Schumann, D., & Dobos, G. (2018). Yoga in Arterial Hypertension. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 115(50), 833-839. DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2018.0833

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga seems to exert its effect against arterial hypertension mainly through the associated breathing and meditation techniques, and less so through yoga postures. The goal of this trial was to compare the blood pressure–lowering effect of yoga interventions with and without yoga postures in patients with arterial hypertension.

Methods

75 patients taking medications for arterial hypertension (72% women, mean age 58.7 ± 9.5 years) were randomized into three groups: a yoga intervention group with yoga postures (25 patients, of whom 5 dropped out of the trial before its end), a yoga intervention group without yoga postures (25 patients, 3 dropouts), and a wait list control group (25 patients, one dropout). The interventions consisted of 90 minutes of yoga practice per week for twelve weeks. The data collectors, who were blinded to the intervention received, assessed the primary outcome measures “systolic 24-hour blood pressure” and “diastolic 24-hour blood pressure” before and after the intervention. In this report, we also present the findings on secondary outcome measures, including follow-up data.

Results

After the intervention, the systolic 24-hour blood pressure in the yoga intervention group without yoga postures was significantly lower than in the control group (group difference [?]= -3.8 mmHg; [95% confidence interval (CI): (-0.3; -7.4) p = 0.035]); it was also significantly lower than in the yoga intervention group with yoga postures (? = -3.2 mmHg; 95% CI: [-6.3; -0.8]; p = 0.045). Diastolic blood pressures did not differ significantly across groups. No serious adverse events were encountered in the course of the trial.

Conclusion

In accordance with the findings of earlier studies, we found that only yoga without yoga postures induced a short-term lowering of ambulatory systolic blood pressure. Yoga is safe and effective in patients taking medications for arterial hypertension and thus can be recommended as an additional treatment option for persons in this category.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375068/

 

Change the Brain for Greater Well-Being with Meditation

Change the Brain for Greater Well-Being with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Meditation provides experiences that the mind can achieve no other way, such as inner silence and expanded awareness. And as the mind gains experience, the brain shows physical activity as well—sometimes profound changes.” – Depak Chopra

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. One way that mindfulness practices may produce these benefits is by altering the brain. The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, mindfulness practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Short‐term Sahaja Yoga meditation training modulates brain structure and spontaneous activity in the executive control network.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6346416/pdf/BRB3-9-e01159.pdf ), Dodich and colleagues recruited meditation naïve college students and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 1-hour Sahaja yoga meditation practice 4 times per week for 4 weeks. Sahaja yoga meditation is an open monitoring meditation technique designed to produce mental silence. The participants underwent brain scans with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) before and after the 4 weeks of meditation training.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list controls, the participants who received meditation training and practice had significant increases in the brain grey matter density in the inferior frontal gyrus. They also found that the greater the grey matter density the greater the self-reported well-being by the meditation participants.

 

The inferior frontal gyrus is known to be involved in attention, self-control, and self-awareness. These are exactly the skills trained in meditation practice. This suggests that this relatively short-term practice produces neuroplastic changes in the brain expanding the brain matter in the regions underlying the trained skills and this is associated with improved well-being.

 

So, change the brain for greater well-being with meditation.

 

“So, what’s the best way to build a better brain? Backed by 1000’s of studies, meditation is the neuroscientific community’s most proven way to upgrade the human brain.” – EOC Institute

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Dodich A, Zollo M, Crespi C, et al. Short‐term Sahaja Yoga meditation training modulates brain structure and spontaneous activity in the executive control network. Brain Behav. 2019;9:e01159. https://doi.org/10.1002/ brb3.1159

 

Abstract Introduction: While cross‐sectional studies have shown neural changes in long‐term meditators, they might be confounded by self‐selection and potential baseline differences between meditators and non meditators. Prospective longitudinal studies of the effects of meditation in naïve subjects are more conclusive with respect to causal inferences, but related evidence is so far limited. Methods: Here, we assessed the effects of a 4‐week Sahaja Yoga meditation training on gray matter density and spontaneous resting‐state brain activity in a group of 12 meditation‐naïve healthy adults. Results: Compared with 30 control subjects, the participants to meditation training showed increased gray matter density and changes in the coherence of intrinsic brain activity in two adjacent regions of the right inferior frontal gyrus encompassing the anterior component of the executive control network. Both these measures correlated with self‐reported well‐being scores in the meditation group. Conclusions: The significant impact of a brief meditation training on brain regions associated with attention, self‐control, and self‐awareness may reflect the engagement of cognitive control skills in searching for a state of mental silence, a distinctive feature of Sahaja Yoga meditation. The manifold implications of these findings involve both managerial and rehabilitative settings concerned with well‐being and emotional state in normal and pathological conditions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6346416/pdf/BRB3-9-e01159.pdf

 

Reduce the Stress of Aging and Improve Quality of Life with Meditation

Reduce the Stress of Aging and Improve Quality of Life with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

if we can delay the onset of memory loss by five years, we can reduce an individual’s chance of developing Alzheimer’s by 50 percent. Moreover, if you can keep your memory strong and vital 10 years longer than expected, you can forget about ever getting Alzheimer’s.” – Dharma Singh Khalsa

 

Human life is one of constant change. We revel in our increases in physical and mental capacities during development, but regret their decline during aging. As we age, there are systematic progressive declines in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities and results in impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Aging also results in changes in mental health. Depression is very common in the elderly. The elderly cope with increasing loss of friends and family, deteriorating health, as well as concerns regarding finances on fixed incomes. All of these are legitimate sources of worry. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions. But, no matter how reasonable, the increased loneliness, worry and anxiety add extra stress that can impact on the elderly’s already deteriorating physical and psychological health.

 

Mindfulness appears to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues that occur with aging. It appears to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation. It has also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. and improve cognitive processes. It has also been shown to reduce anxietyworry, and depression and improve overall mental health. Since the global population of the elderly is increasing at unprecedented rates, it is imperative to investigate safe and effective methods to slow physical and mental aging and improve mental health in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Meditation versus Music Listening on Perceived Stress, Mood, Sleep, and Quality of Life in Adults with Early Memory Loss: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649740/, Innes and colleagues recruited older adults (over 50 years of age) with mild cognitive impairments and randomly assigned them to either relax and listen to classical music or practice Kirtan Kriya meditation for 12-minutes, once a day for 12 weeks. They were measured before and after treatment and again 3 months later for perceived stress, sleep quality, positive and negative moods, psychological well-being, health-related quality of life, memory, and cognitive ability. Retention of participants was high as only 8% dropped out of the study.

 

They found that after 12 weeks of practice both the music listening and the Kirtan Kriya meditation groups showed significant improvements in psychological well-being, mood, including anxiety, depression, confusion, anger, and fatigue, sleep quality, and health-related quality of life, including mental health, energy, and emotional well-being. These improvements were sustained 3 months after the conclusion of formal practice. Importantly, the Kirtan Kriya meditation group had significantly greater improvement in perceived stress, mood, psychological well-being, mental health-related quality of life than the music listening group.

 

These results suggest that relaxation in general produces sustained improvements in the well-being of older adults with mild cognitive impairments. But, Kirtan Kriya meditation practice produces greater improvements. The fact that there was a music listening control group suggests that it was the meditation per se and not just the relaxation inherent in meditation practice that was responsible for the improvements. This suggests that meditation practice is very beneficial of older adults with mild cognitive impairments improving their mental health, perceived stress, and well-being and that these improvements are sustained at least for 3 months. Since, these factors are associated with further cognitive decline, the results suggest that meditation practice may slow age-related cognitive decline.

 

So, reduce the stress of aging and quality of life with meditation.

 

“One of the major difficulties that individuals with dementia and their family members encounter is that there is a need for new ways of communicating due to the memory loss and other changes in thinking and abilities. The practice of mindfulness places both participants in the present and focuses on positive features of the interaction, allowing for a type of connection that may substitute for the more complex ways of communicating in the past. It is a good way to address stress.” – Sandra Weintraub

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kim E. Innes, Terry Kit Selfe, Dharma Singh Khalsa, Sahiti Kandati. Effects of Meditation versus Music Listening on Perceived Stress, Mood, Sleep, and Quality of Life in Adults with Early Memory Loss: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. J Alzheimers Dis.  2016 Apr 8; 52(4): 1277–1298. doi: 10.3233/JAD-151106

 

Abstract

Background

Older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD) are at increased risk not only for Alzheimer’s disease, but for poor mental health, impaired sleep, and diminished quality of life (QOL), which in turn, contribute to further cognitive decline, highlighting the need for early intervention.

Objective

In this randomized controlled trial, we assessed the effects of two 12-week relaxation programs, Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KK) and music listening (ML), on perceived stress, sleep, mood, and health-related QOL in older adults with SCD.

Methods

Sixty community-dwelling older adults with SCD were randomized to a KK or ML program and asked to practice 12 minutes daily for 12 weeks, then at their discretion for the following 3 months. At baseline, 12 weeks, and 26 weeks, perceived stress, mood, psychological well-being, sleep quality, and health-related QOL were measured using well-validated instruments.

Results

Fifty-three participants (88%) completed the 6-month study. Participants in both groups showed significant improvement at 12 weeks in psychological well-being and in multiple domains of mood and sleep quality (p’s ≤ 0.05). Relative to ML, those assigned to KK showed greater gains in perceived stress, mood, psychological well-being, and QOL-Mental Health (p’s ≤ 0.09). Observed gains were sustained or improved at 6 months, with both groups showing marked and significant improvement in all outcomes. Changes were unrelated to treatment expectancies.

Conclusions

Findings suggest that practice of a simple meditation or ML program may improve stress, mood, well-being, sleep, and QOL in adults with SCD, with benefits sustained at 6 months and gains that were particularly pronounced in the KK group.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649740/

Reduce Mild Aging Cognitive Decline with Yogic Meditation

Reduce Mild Aging Cognitive Decline with Yogic Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The healthier and more active one’s lifestyle, the more likely he or she will maintain cognitive performance over time. And meditation may be a key ingredient for ensuring brain health and maintaining good mental performance.” – Grace Bullock

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. But, there is some hope for age related cognitive decline, as there is evidence that it can be slowed. There are some indications that physical and mental exercise can reduce the rate of cognitive decline and lower the chances of dementia. For example, contemplative practices such as meditationyoga, and Tai Chi and Qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve cognitive processes.

 

Yoga is a mindfulness practice that is safe and applicable to the elderly. So, it could potentially be an ideal practice for the slowing of age related cognitive decline. In today’s Research News article “A randomized controlled trial of Kundalini yoga in mild cognitive impairment.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5540331/, Eyre and colleagues recruited elderly (older than 55 years of age, average 68) with a mild degree of cognitive impairment and randomly assigned them to a 12 week, 60 minutes once a week, standard memory enhancement treatment or to yogic meditation practice, Kundalini Yoga. Daily homework was assigned. Kundalini Yoga includes meditation, breathing exercises, and mantra practice. The participants were measured before and after training and 12 weeks later for memory ability, executive function, resilience, physical and cognitive symptoms, neuropsychiatric symptoms, illness, apathy, and mood including depression.

 

They found that following training both the yoga and memory enhancement groups had significant improvements in memory and apathy and these improvements were still present 12 weeks after the end of training. In contrast, only the Kundalini Yoga group had significant improvements in depression, resilience, and executive function, including cognitive flexibility, response inhibition, and semantic fluency. Hence, both groups improved in memory and apathy, but only the Kundalini Yoga group also improved in mood, resilience, and higher-level thinking (cognitive function).

 

These are exciting findings suggesting the Kundalini Yoga is a safe and effective treatment that for age related declines in cognitive function, depression, apathy, and memory and improves stress resilience. It has been demonstrated that mindfulness training produces a wide variety of benefits for the elderly including mood, memory and cognitive improvements. So, Kundalini Yoga can be added to the list of effective mindfulness trainings for the elderly.

 

This was an excellent study as the comparison condition was the current “gold standard” of treatment for mild cognitive impairment in the elderly, memory enhancement training. Yet, Kundalini Yoga was significantly more beneficial. The improvement in stress resilience is important and may underlie some of the other benefits of the Kundalini Yoga training. Aging can produce considerable economic, physical, psychological, and social stresses. Improvement in the ability to withstand the effects of these stresses should be highly beneficial by decreasing the impact of these stresses on other aspects of physical and psychological functioning in the elderly.

 

So, reduce mild aging cognitive decline with yoga.

 

“Meditation could be a promising intervention in contrasting the negative effects of aging. Indeed, it has been shown to enhance cognitive efficiency in several domains, such as attention and executive functions.” Marco Sperduti

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Eyre, H. A., Siddarth, P., Acevedo, B., Van Dyk, K., Paholpak, P., Ercoli, L., … Lavretsky, H. (2017). A randomized controlled trial of Kundalini yoga in mild cognitive impairment. International Psychogeriatrics, 29(4), 557–567. http://doi.org/10.1017/S1041610216002155

 

Abstract

Background

Global population aging will result in increasing rates of cognitive decline and dementia. Thus, effective, low-cost, and low side-effect interventions for the treatment and prevention of cognitive decline are urgently needed. Our study is the first to investigate the effects of Kundalini yoga (KY) training on mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Methods

Older participants (≥55 years of age) with MCI were randomized to either a 12-week KY intervention or memory enhancement training (MET; gold-standard, active control). Cognitive (i.e. memory and executive functioning) and mood (i.e. depression, apathy, and resilience) assessments were administered at baseline, 12 weeks and 24 weeks.

Results

At baseline, 81 participants had no significant baseline group differences in clinical or demographic characteristics. At 12 weeks and 24 weeks, both KY and MET groups showed significant improvement in memory; however, only KY showed significant improvement in executive functioning. Only the KY group showed significant improvement in depressive symptoms and resilience at week 12.

Conclusion

KY group showed short- and long-term improvements in executive functioning as compared to MET, and broader effects on depressed mood and resilience. This observation should be confirmed in future clinical trials of yoga intervention for treatment and prevention of cognitive decline

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5540331/