Clinical research has shown that practicing Kirtan Kriya for just 12 minutes a day can improve cognition and activate parts of the brain that are central to memory.
Two billion people in the world will be over 60 years of age by the year 2050. Research has shown that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may be prevalent in 10-20 percent of this population, suggesting a very high risk of development of brain-related issues. Hence, a pressing need for prevention strategies that are not only cost-effective but can be made available to the masses.
Running and tennis are great, but asana can do the trick, too. Yoga studies have shown that a 60-minute Kundalini Yoga class once a week, involving movement, chanting, and meditation, accompanied by a daily practice of a 12-minute Kirtan Kriya meditation, can improve connectivity in the default mode network of the brain.
What is Kirtan Kriya?
Kirtan Kriya is a type of meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition, which has been practiced for thousands of years. This meditation is sometimes called a singing exercise, as it involves singing the sounds, Saa Taa Naa Maa along with repetitive finger movements, or mudras. In the Eastern tradition, kriyas are used to help bring the body, mind, and emotions into balance to enable healing.
How do you practice Kirtan Kriya?
- Repeat the Saa Taa Naa Maa sounds (or mantra) while sitting with your spine straight. Your focus of concentration is the L form, while your eyes are closed. With each syllable, imagine the sound flowing in through the top of your head and out the middle of your forehead (your third eye point).
- For two minutes, sing in your normal voice.
- For the next two minutes, sing in a whisper.
- For the next four minutes, say the sound silently to yourself.
- Then reverse the order, whispering for two minutes, and then out loud for two minutes, for twelve minutes.
- To come out of the exercise, inhale very deeply, stretch your hands above your head, and then bring them down slowly in a sweeping motion as you exhale.
The mudras, or finger positions, are very important in this kriya
On Saa, touch the index fingers of each hand to your thumbs.
On Taa, touch your middle fingers to your thumbs.
On Naa, touch your ring fingers to your thumbs.
On Maa, touch your little fingers to your thumbs.
The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation believes that the various parts of Kirtan Kriya are each vital to the whole. It recommends practicing it in the traditional way to fully reap the benefits of the exercise. That said, other methods of reducing stress, like deep breathing, listening to music, and other types of meditation may be beneficial to your health.