The Effects of Yoga on Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia: A Scoping Review

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2019 Feb;27(2):188-197. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2018.10.013. Epub 2018 Oct 25.


Yoga is an ancient mind body practice. Although yoga has been used as a complementary health approach for enhancing wellness and addressing a variety of health issues, little is known about the impact of yoga on cognitive functioning in adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia. We conducted a literature review to examine the impact of yoga on persons with MCI and dementia. Eight studies were identified that reported on yoga as either the primary intervention or one component of a multi-component intervention in samples of persons with MCI or dementia. Results suggest that yoga may have beneficial effects on cognitive functioning, particularly on attention and verbal memory. Further, yoga may affect cognitive functioning through improved sleep, mood, and neural connectivity. There are a number of limitations of the existing studies, including a lack of intervention details, as well as variability in the frequency/duration and components of the yoga interventions. A further complicating issue is the role of various underlying etiologies of cognitive impairment. Despite these limitations, providers may consider recommending yoga to persons with MCI or dementia as a safe and potentially beneficial complementary health approach.

Keywords: Aging; Dementia; Mild cognitive impairment; Mind-body; Mindfulness-based stress reduction; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / rehabilitation*
  • Dementia / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Yoga*