Meditation and yoga are constantly being recommended as the best ways to de-stress and relieve anxiety and tension in life.
However, according to the review of the effects of yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and Tai Chi on our genes, done by the journal Frontiers in Immunology, they: “don’t simply relax us; they can ‘reverse’ the molecular reactions in our DNA which cause ill-health and depression…”
Namely, in the case of stress, our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) flips on and activates the “fight-or-flight” response. Yet, in early human times, as people were constantly in danger, this response was vital to their survival, and the body systems normalized easier afterward.
On the other hand, nowadays, we live in a stressful world that makes our fight-or-flight mechanism over-used, and thus damages our health.
As soon as the SNS is activated, our body stimulates the production of a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB), that controls the way our genes are expressed. It turns on cytokines, the genes that make and release proteins, and this leads to inflammation, illness, and disease.
However, this research showed that people who engage in these “Mind-body Interventions” (MBIs) such as yoga and meditation, show a significant decrease in the manufacture of both Nf-kB and inflammatory cytokines.
Science Daily reports:
“These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.”
This explains why we feel healed and protected from all kinds of health issues when practicing mindful practices.
According to Ivana Buric from the Brain, Belief, and Behaviour Lab in Coventry University’s Centre for Psychology, Behaviour, and Achievement:
“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.
These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing. This is an important foundation to build on to help future researchers explore the benefits of increasingly popular mind-body activities.”