Yoga for Alzheimer's: 5 effective asanas to prevent the neurological disorder
Want to protect your brain from Alzheimer’s? Researches point towards Yoga as an option as it “combines physical postures, rhythmic breathing and meditative exercise to offer the practitioners a unique holistic mind-body experience.”
According to a US study published on Brain Plasticity, “Compared to traditional forms of aerobic and anaerobic exercise, the relatively low-impact, modifiable nature of yoga can offer a middle ground for individuals with movement limitations, clinical diagnoses, and is particularly suitable for aging populations. Yoga’s focus on improving the self through both physical and mental practices incorporates more mindful elements absent in traditional forms of exercise.”
Though Alzheimer’s usually occurs after the age of 70, the deteriorating lifestyle and increasing stress levels among the people below the age of 40 can lead them to become a victim of this disease. Ahead of World Alzheimer's Day 2021, internationally acclaimed spiritual yogic master - Grand Master Akshar reveals that 5 effective Yoga asanas, “Vajrasana, Siddhasana, Paschimottanasana, Vrikshasana and Shirshasana” can be performed regularly at the comfort of one's homes or under the sky to keep Alzheimer's at bay.
1. Vajrasana or Thunderbolt Pose/Diamond Pose
Method: Start by kneeling on the floor and rest your pelvis on your heels. Keep your heels close to each other by pulling your knees and ankles together and point your feet in line with your legs.
Place your palms on your knees or on your thighs and adjust your pelvis slightly backward and forward until you're comfortable. Exhale as you sit back on your legs.
Benefits: Vajrasana not only helps in keeping the mind calm and stable but also cures digestive acidity and gas formation, helps relieve knee pain, strengthens thigh muscles and helps to relieve back pain. The exercise aides in strengthening sexual organs and helping in treatment of urinary problems.
2. Siddhasana or Accomplished Pose
Method: This is the most easy pose of Yoga where you sit cross-legged with eyes closed deep in meditation and hands resting on your knees. Sit with your toes tucked into your thighs and set your feet side by side while keeping your knees wide and eyes closed in a meditative pose to ace the seated asana.
Benefits: Siddhasana or Yoga’s Accomplished pose or Siddhi's pose is ideal position for meditating. It is excellent for increasing flexibility in hips and groin/inner thigh muscles.
It not only opens the practitioner’s hips, chest and shoulders but also lengthens the spine, improves posture, stretches the front of the ankles, strengthens calf muscles, activates the chakras, keeps the mind alert, reduces stress and anxiety and helps to balance the activities of the reproductive organs.
3. Paschimottanasana or seated forward-bend
Method: Begin with Dandasana and place a strap around the feet while grasping them by the hands if the back is stiff. Ensure that your knees are slightly bent and legs stretched out forward.
Then inhale and extend your arms straight out to the sides and up over your head, reaching toward the ceiling while keeping your spine erect. As you exhale and empty your stomach of air, begin to come forward by hinging at your hips and place your upper body on your lower body.
Lower your arms, grip your big toes with your fingers and try to touch your knees with your nose. Remember to lengthen your spine on each inhale and deepen into your forward bend on each exhale.
Benefits: Though seemingly easy, it offers loads of benefits especially for those suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes. One of the major health benefits is that it calms the body and relaxes the mind. It also helps circulate fresh blood to the head thereby relaxing the mind and reducing insomnia, depression and anxiety.
4. Vrikshasana or tree pose
Method: Balance yourself on one leg, with the other one folded and supported on your inner thigh. Stretch out your hands above your head and point them directly upwards.
Clasp them together in anjali mudra. Gaze in the distance, shift the weight to your left leg while keeping the right knee bent in half lotus position and hold onto this posture for a few seconds before releasing and repeating the same with the alternate leg.
Benefits: This asana helps to bring balance to your mind and body. It makes your legs stronger and is a great hip opener as assists it the body in establishing pelvic stability and strengthens the bones of the hips and legs.
The shift of the entire body’s weight to each leg strengthens the ligaments and tendon of the feet. It also helps strengthen the thighs, calves and ankles and and helps improve focus.
Precautions: This asana should be avoided by those who suffer from vertigo or migraine or insomnia issues.
5. Shirshasana or headstand
Method: Get down on your palms and knees. Place the top of the head on the mat. Next, place your palms on the mat such that your arms are bent 90-degrees with your elbows directly over the wrist.
Lift your knees and walk your feet towards your palms. First lift your right leg up and align it with your upper body. Balance and lift your left leg up. Point your toes towards the ceiling. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
Benefits: Yoga headstand is also called Salamba Shirshasana or just Shirshasana which is good for stimulating and providing refreshed blood to various endocrine glands for improving the body’s overall functionality. It also strengthens one’s core along with increasing upper body strength and stamina.
Precaution: Headstand is not advised during menstruation or in cases of high blood pressure, hiatal hernia, heart palpitations or glaucoma. Though nicknamed “king” of all the asanas, Yoga headstand is most often reported as the cause of an injury hence, should be practised after gaining much balance.