Value of yoga

May 6, 2013 in fitness, lifestyle, Member Stories, News

I’ve never been one for yoga. My roommate has been trying to get me to go to a class with her for months, but I always tell her that I’m more of a cardio kickboxing type of girl. What can I say? I’d rather de-stress by punching and kicking the air than pose like a tree. However, I might now consider going to yoga after a recent study was released that claims yoga does much more than relax the body and mind; it can actually change the expression of genes.

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According to a new study from the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)  and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, “elicitation of the relaxation response – a physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing and prayer – produces immediate changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion.”

The study consisted of blood samples from 26 healthy adults who had never participated in relaxation response practices. The samples were taken before and after they completed an eight-week relaxation response course to see if there were any changes in the genes. Additionally, blood samples were taken from 25 adults who had four to 25 years experience with relaxation response practices. Those samples were taken before and after they listened to a 20-minute relaxation response CD.

Results revealed noticeable changes in the expression of genes, such as an increase in pathways involved with energy metabolism and a suppression of pathways that are known to have a significant role in inflammation, stress, trauma and cancer.

According to a MGH news release, Manoj K. Bhasin, PhD, co-lead author of the study, expects that the insights from the study will aid in figuring out whether the relaxation response will help alleviate symptoms of diseases elicited by stress.
Based on the results of this study, it sounds like it might be in my health’s best interest for me to skip a day of kickboxing and take a yoga class instead. How often do you go to yoga or participate in other relaxation response practices? Has a medical professional ever recommended a relaxation response practice to you or someone you know? Let us know in the comment section below.

4 responses to Value of yoga

  1. Hmmm – did yoga, deep breathing and prayer produce equal benefits? I have to take a closer look at this study!

  2. A said on May 22, 2013

    That’s a good point. And what about a control group of the opposite kind – one that does exercise without trying to relax? This study needs kickboxers as well as yogis.

  3. 45 year male practice yoga once maybe twice on a good week, the benefit i receive the most is i feel like you could twist me up like a pretzel. As a person who runs and trains for spartan races, rides a bike dailey and takes spin case along with boot camps , Yoga is the one class i come out smiling ear to ear , the benefits are enormous.

  4. Great article. I got started on Yoga in the 70s when a lot of it was more about looking cool in a leotard than anything else. My pals moved on over the years to the latest fads like pilates and boxercise but I stuck with it – and very glad I am. For me the benefits were immediate. I played a lot of football and my knees were pretty cranky, plus I had a lot of aggression back then. Yoga mellowed me out and fixed my knees. Now I’m older, I see it’s benefited me in other ways too. Deep down, I’m still a fiery guy but I seem to be able to channel it better than most of my peers. I guess being still and composed helps you choose your energy levels the rest of the time. I had no idea these kinds of improvements made it as far down as the genes. That’s amazing. With research like this, maybe more people will be persuaded to take up Yoga. There’s a whole bunch of crazy kids out there could use a little calm, that’s for sure.

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