A Meditation Practice for Improving Memory & More!

There are many things that we cannot change as we get older, good thing memory loss does not have to be one. A growing body of research suggests that a mind-body exercise could improve memory and cognitive function in older adults: specifically Kirtan Kriya meditation.

Studies conducted by the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation have shown that this particular meditation can be particularly helpful for the aging adult. The practice boosts cognition and help reverse perceived memory loss in older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD).

Kirtan Kriya, a type of meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition, has been practiced for thousands of years to help bring the body, mind and emotions into balance to enable healing. This non religious form for meditation combines mudra (hand gesture), mantra (vocalization), visualization, and regulated breathing. The combination is a powerful stimulus for the brain.

It is a very detailed meditation that can most easily be practiced with a qualified Kundalini instructor. However, here is a link to a description of the practice to get you started at home.

Resource: http://alzheimersprevention.org/research/kirtan-kriya-yoga-exercise/

How do you practice Kirtan Kriya?    

  1. Repeat the Saa Taa Naa Maa sounds (or mantra) while sitting with your spine straight. Your focus of concentration is the L form (see illustration), 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).
  2. For two minutes, sing in your normal voice.
  3. For the next two minutes, sing in a whisper.
  4. For the next four minutes, say the sound silently to yourself.
  5. Then reverse the order, whispering for two minutes, and then out loud for two minutes, for a total of twelve minutes.
  6. 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 (see illustration below).

Kirtan Kriya finger positions (mudras)

  • 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.

Kristen O'Connor
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga Instructor 

Family Yoga!

When I had my first daughter 3 plus year ago I had no idea how to take everything I had been learning during my years of yoga practicing and teaching and apply it to how to be a compassionate, patient, and loving mother. I did have a great example to follow and I am thankful for a mom who was all those things.

It is one thing to embody compassion in the quiet morning hours when I choose to meditate, but it is another to try to live up to that expectation every hour of the day and in the middle of the night.

As I am encouraging her to think of something happy, we sing a quiet song together. We hug.  My daughter and I take a deep breath, and we both feel better. We are learning it together how to approach each new moment as mother and daughter. She taught me a mantra to go with a hand gesture meditation I wanted to share with her. "I feel much better".

The beauty and simplicity of those words stunned me and made me feel better. We try it together.

Touching the thumb to the tip of each finger repeat out loud.

Index finger: I

Middle finger: Feel

Ring finger: Much

Pinky finger: Better

I wish that there was never a time when I felt anger or frustration, but I have these feelings. I am aware of them.

When I do yoga with my 3 year old I do not teach her, I share it with her and try not to get in her way, but keep her coming back. I try to remember just how lucky I am to be joining in that moment with her whatever it looks like.

Today I have another daughter and I feel like it is yet again a whole new experience in being present. However, this time I am able to take a step back and see so much more clearly. Of course hindsight is always 20/20, but in this case the gift of presence is truly 20/20.

Make life an effortless and enjoyable game, why not? It doesn't mean that there are no times for serious, but to live in a state of stress is not good for anyone in the family, so why not make it fun for everyone.

Kristen O'Connor
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga Instructor