I have been a devotee of yoga since I was in my 20s and I had a 70-year old yoga teacher named Becky Love. I became a certified Kripalu yoga teacher since the mid-1970s and have kept hand and foot into the practice and infrequently teach yoga since then.
My regular readers know that I often extol the benefits of yoga far beyond physical (and mental) flexibility.
Over the years, science has validated the health benefits of yoga that yogis have known for 6,000 years. I always get a giggle or two when I see the newest, latest, greatest scientific study.
So here’s another one that is really interesting:
Yoga can actually change your genes by reversing inflammation-causing physical stressors that are an underlying cause of many serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, reviewed 18 studies on the subject and found that yoga practice reverses the genetic damage caused by long term unrelieved stress.
Stress relief is no secret to anybody who’s ever taken even one yoga class, which typically includes postures (physical exercise), breathing techniques and meditation.
But this study goes far beyond just that feeling of peace after a class. It shows that these practices actually reverse the genetic damage caused by relentless stress that many of us experience in our daily lives. In scientific terms, European researchers say what’s happening is that inflammatory protein nuclear factor Kappa-B levels are reduced through regular yoga practice. This protein communicates directly with DNA in several important ways including telling cells whether to live or die. Natural cell death is a normal part of human physiology, and when cells multiply wildly and don’t die, they can cause cancer, among other things.
Best of all, the British lead researcher on the study says that all it takes is about 15 minutes of yoga practice a day to achieve this result.