Move over jeggings, we’re talking yoga genes.
So here’s something interesting. Scientists are peering into the benefits of yoga with a finer lens these days and what they’re finding is really some fascinating and nerdy stuff you might just want to know about. For instance, science says yoga can immediately affect you on a genetic and molecular level. Apparently, your OMG I feel soooooo AWEsommme after you practice isn’t scientific evidence enough for these sticklers.
In the emerging field of psychosocial genomics (say that three times fast) we’re already learning about neuroplasticity and how psychological, social, and cultural components can impact our genes. What? Yeah, crazy. So a reseacrh team in Oslo, Norway decided to test the calming effects of yoga, known to help switch on the Relaxation Response, to see what genetic changes, if any, occurred. And they did.
Their study involved 10 candidates who attended a week-long yoga retreat in Germany. During the first two days they spent two hours practicing a comprehensive yoga program including yogic postures (asanas), yogic breathing exercises* and meditation. For the next two days, they spent that same time period going on an hour-long walk in nature and then listening to either jazz or classical music. Before and after these activities they tested the victims’ er candidates’ blood, specifically PBMCs (peripheral blood lymphocytes) which play a key role in immune health.
What they found and recently published in the journal PLOS ONE was that a comprehensive yoga practice can have an instantaneous positive effect on your genes and immune cells.
Here we have shown, to our knowledge for the first time, that there are rapid (within 2 hours of start of practice) and significant gene expression changes in PBMCs of practitioners during a comprehensive yoga program. These data suggest that previously reported effects of yoga practices have an integral physiological component at the molecular level which is initiated immediately during practice and may form the basis for the long term stable effects.
The yoga session saw 111 genes change expression (we imagine from sad face to happy face), whereas the control group with a walk and all that jazz had a number of 38 which indicates yoga practice “may have additional effects over exercise plus simple relaxation in inducing health benefits through differential changes at the molecular level.” Interestingly, 14 genes were commonly affected by both yoga and control. So you know what that means, it’s jazzeryogawalkacise for you, kiddies. Don’t you want to be healthy?!
* in particular Sudarshan Kriya which is under Art of Living, which is seen by some as culty in their philosophies, but in this case we believe was used purely for the exercises for scientific purposes.
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