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Yoga, Meditation Reverse Effects of Stress-Related Health Disorders

Yoga, Meditation Reverse Effects of Stress-Related Health Disorders
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By    |   Thursday, 18 January 2018 11:56 AM

The health benefits of yoga and meditation are well known – easing stress, lowering blood pressure, combatting depression and anxiety, reducing back pain, aiding those with asthma or arthritis, and even curing a hangover.

But the effects of these practices don’t stop there: A recently released study suggests that yoga and meditation, and activities like them, can actually undo the physical and mental effects of a stress, and reduce the risk of disease, at the genetic level.

This study, published in Frontiers in Immunology, explains that mind-body interventions (MBIs) including yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, Qi gong, tai chi, and more can suppress inflammation-promoting genes and genetic pathways.

While inflammation can be beneficial in small doses, over long periods of time it can destroy the biological balance in your body, hinder your immune system functions, and leave you more susceptible to things like mental illness, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.

The new research examined 18 previously published studies and found MBIs counteract inflammation and “the effects of stress on the immune system.”

This means that your vinyasa yoga or deep breathing techniques are actually decreasing the production of inflammatory proteins in your body, making you healthier in addition to keeping you relaxed.

Incorporating MBIs into your daily routine is easy to do, and there are plenty of options, ranging from intense exercise to simply deep breathing. Here are a few to consider:

Meditation. Styles of meditation vary, but all aim to calm the mind. Mindfulness meditation focuses on breathing, thoughts, sights, and sounds; concentration meditation places emphasis on the repetition of a word, like a mantra, or breathing. Websites like Live and Dare provide detailed descriptions of the many types and techniques of meditation, which can help you find the right one for you.

Yoga. A group of spiritual, physical, and mental practices or disciplines, yoga offers many benefits in addition to the anti-inflammatory benefits discovered in the new study. Yoga is well known to improve heart rate, blood pressure, auditory and visual reaction times, balance, and flexibility. There are many different types of yoga, and with its growing popularity, you can find classes just about anywhere, or you can do it in your living room with an instructional video.

Relaxation and breathing techniques. Techniques that focus on an awareness of breathing rate, rhythm, and volume can also do the trick. Most often, relaxation and breathing techniques are used to relieve stress, whether it be during a high-stress time of labor and delivery, or simply to fall asleep. Time recently compiled a list of six great exercises that you can do anytime or anywhere.

Tai chi. This traditional Chinese technique incorporates body movement as well as breath and attentional training to reduce stress. Practicing tai chi involves moving slowly from one body position to another in a continuous flow. Tai chi and similar techniques can be practiced anywhere, and have even made their way into workplaces as a way of stress management and a sense of community.

Even though MBIs are proven to reduce the inflammation in your body, any stress-reliever can make you a healthier, happier person. Listening to quiet music, going for a nature walk, working out, or even reading a book can help you manage stress and the effects it has on your body.

“MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our well-being,” says Ivana Buric, lead author of the new study and a Ph.D. student at Coventry University in England.

“By choosing healthy habits every day, we can create a gene activity pattern that is more beneficial to our health. Even just 15 minutes of practicing mindfulness seems to do the trick.”

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If you think yoga and meditation are only about relaxing, think again. A new analysis of studies shows these practices can reverse the impacts of inflammation on the body and combat a handful of physical and mental health problems. Here's an important medical update.
yoga, meditation, health
Thursday, 18 January 2018 11:56 AM
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