BY: QUENTIN STUCKEY
Who truly has the time to relax anymore? We as human beings are taught from a very early age “idle hands are the devil’s playthings,” meaning that if you are not constantly busying yourself with something or anything, you are wasting your precious time.
Waking up to greet another brand new day is a beautiful gift, but with every day comes its share of distractions. Balancing work with a social life, a relationship, education, money and other obligations is not easy for anyone. Even the most efficient people need to relax and distress. How is one even able to get their tasks completed and responsibilities fulfilled if they are not physically and mentally healthy? We shouldn’t feel a single ounce of guilt for taking the time and energy to fully relax.
For many years, people have been turning to yoga as an effective relaxation technique. In fact yoga is a practice that is famous for being constantly promoted for the health benefits. According to Dr. Ruby Roy, a physician and certified yoga instructor, practicing yoga can reduce anxiety, reduce depression, lower blood pressure, improve coordination and reduce muscle pain. That is only the beginning when it comes to how much of an impact yoga can have on your well-being. Practicing yoga can literally improve your DNA according to recent medical studies from Harvard University and the University of Calgary.
The findings of Harvard University researchers, as originally reported on Natural News, have discovered that yoga can positively improve metabolic function on a cellular level, improving the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and prevent the development of chronic diseases.
To conduct the study, the researchers split the participants into two distinctive groups. The first group engaged in yoga and mindfulness exercises and the second group did not engage in any activity. After eight weeks, the researchers took blood samples from both groups and examined if there were any significant changes in the genes of the participants. The group that spent eight weeks practicing yoga showed changes to 2,209 genes, with 1,275 genes showing an increase in activity and 934 showing a decrease in activity, a sign to the researchers that engaging in yoga results in a significant change to the expression of genes.
In addition to these changes in DNA, another remarkable change that took place was a resistance to oxidative stress. News Medical.net describes oxidative stress as: “an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants.” A resistance to oxidative stress therefore results in a healthier functioning body and a reduced risk for disease development.
In another study conducted by the University of Calgary, researchers enlisted survivors of breast cancer to participate in yoga classes on a weekly basis. The team also enlisted a control group which did not participate in the classes. Blood samples were taken once again to compare the two groups of cancer survivors, the group which participated in yoga demonstrated a longer telomere (the aging process on a cellular level) length, which can often result in greater post-cancer survival. This study demonstrates that even after a battle with a disease as life threatening as cancer, yoga can still improve your body’s cellular abilities.
These studies have ushered in further evidence that yoga and overall meditative exercises benefit both the body and the mind. Yoga can prolong your lifespan and predict a greater post-cancer future, all thanks to alterations in one’s DNA. So what are we all waiting for? Pull out that mat and let’s improve our minds and bodies for the long term!