Kundalini yoga, a practice that focuses on meditation and breath work more so than physical poses, provides several benefits to cognition and memory. It is especially beneficial to postmenopausal women, who are at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to men.

kundalini Yoga: a spiritual practice

Kundalini yoga is a form of yoga that involves chanting, singing, breathing exercises, and repetitive poses. The word Kundalini comes from the Sanskrit word kundal, which means “coiled energy.” We all have energy resting at the base of our spine and, through the practice of Kundalini, we can bring that energy up our spine through the seven chakras, and out the crown of our head.

This practice is often called the “yoga of awareness,” because it is designed to increase your self-awareness by silencing your mind and unblocking your chakras so that your vital energy can flow freely. 

NEW Study SHOWS benefits of YOGA in older women at risk of dementia

The cognitive benefits of Kundalini yoga have been well-studied. In 2017,  a controlled trial of 81 participants with mild cognitive impairment showed that those who practiced Kundalini yoga saw short- and long-term improvements in their executive functioning, while those who participated in standard memory enhancement training, aka MET, did not. MET is a program typically administered to people at risk of dementia, and can include a variety of exercises, such as using stories to remember items on a list or organizing items on a grocery list.

A new UCLA Health study, published last month, specifically studied the effects of Kundalini yoga in older women at risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  The study showed that Kundalini yoga provided several benefits to cognition and memory in this population. These benefits included:

  • Restoring neural pathways

  • Preventing brain matter decline

  • Reversing aging and inflammation-associated biomarkers

The study compared participants who practiced Kundalini yoga for 12 weeks with participants who went through standard MET. Researchers observed that delayed recall significantly declined in the Kundalini yoga participants but not in the MET participants.

The cognitive benefits of this yoga practice is already well-recognized in the dementia research community. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation recommends Kirtan Kriya, a type of meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition, for improving memory retention. This latest study further demonstrates that Kundalini yoga could be used early on to prevent cognitive decline and trajectories of Alzheimer’s disease among postmenopausal women. 

To learn more about the UCLA study, head over to our summary of the study at Yoga Activist: https://yogaactivist.org/about/development/thanks/141-2/kundalini-yoga-beneficial-for-older-women-at-risk-of-alzheimers-disease/


  1. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/kundalini-yoga-101-everything-you-wanted-to-know
  2. https://alzheimersprevention.org/research/12-minute-memory-exercise/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/kundalini-yoga#about-kundalini-yoga
  4. Eyre, H. A., Siddarth, P., Acevedo, B., Van Dyk, K., Paholpak, P., Ercoli, L., St Cyr, N., Yang, H., Khalsa, D. S., & Lavretsky, H. (2017). A randomized controlled trial of Kundalini yoga in mild cognitive impairment. International psychogeriatrics29(4), 557–567. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1041610216002155

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