Caregivers’ mental health may improve with short daily meditation

A yoga meditation program could reduce depression symptoms and boost mental health, a study finds, and that’s not all — it may also show benefits at the cellular level.

The study, published recently in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, involved 49 caregivers ranging in age from 45 to 91 who were taking care of family members with dementia. Caregivers are at risk for high stress levels, often with no outlet or relief, which can lead to health problems.

The participants were randomly assigned to two programs: Kundalini yoga Kirtan Kriya meditation or passive relaxation with instrumental music. The yoga meditation program included breathing, chanting and repetitive finger movements, called mudras. Both were done for 12 minutes a day for eight weeks.

At the end of those eight weeks the meditation group seemed to come out ahead. Among those men and women, 65 percent showed 50 percent improvement on a depression rating scale, and 52 percent showed a 50 percent improvement on a mental health scale. Among those who did passive relaxation, those numbers were 31.2 percent for depression and 19 percent for mental health.