If you hadn’t heard already, yoga is really good for you. It improves flexibility, reduces depression and soothes your muscle pain. The good news doesn’t stop there though, according to new research, practicing yoga or other mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as meditation can ‘reverse’ DNA reactions which cause stress. Just another reason that, since 2012, 20.4 million more Americans have begun to practice.
According to the journal Frontiers in Immunology, after examining 18 studies, there was a pattern in the molecular changes that happen to the body as a result of MBIs. The studies, which were taken from the past decade were reviewed, had 846 participants over 11 years.
When we get stressed out bodies respond in a ‘fight-or-flight’ way which cause and increase in the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) as well as a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB). No, we’re not quite sure what it is either, but apparently, it regulates how our genes are expressed.
NF-kB translates stress by activating genes to produce proteins called cytokines which cause inflammation at a cellular level. Great for short term stress management, but if prolonged it can lead to a higher risk of cancer, accelerate aging and cause depression.
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Don’t worry though, because according to the study, people who practice MBIs such as yoga, meditation or Tai Chi exhibit the opposite effect. Basically, the NF-kB and cytokines decrease in production which leads to a reversal and reduction of the inflammation-related diseases and conditions.
Lead investigator Ivana Buric said, “Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don’t realize is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business.”
Okay, it’s time to pull out your dusty yoga mat and downward dog.