As though yoga needed any more evidence of its positive effects on the body, two recent studies found that its effects are far-reaching and even more impressive on the body than researchers initially thought. Yoga is an ancient practice that first surfaced in India and the surrounding countries that were used in accompaniment with religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.
Yoga has long been touted as an excellent method of reducing stress and improving mental and physical health for those who continuously practiced it. Physically, it can help improve flexibility, strength, your posture, spine protection, immunity, can lower your blood pressure, and has many other functions.
The studies, which were conducted separately at Harvard University and the University of Calgary, found that yoga has an epigenetic effect, which means that it alters the expression of the genes without changing the genetic code itself. There are a number of other activities that have this same effect on the body, such as diet and sleep, but yoga is one of the many that surprised researchers.
At Harvard University, researchers found that yoga can positively change your cellular metabolic functions and improve things like nutrient absorption and the prevention of chronic diseases. The study involved two different groups, one that practiced mindfulness and yoga training and a control group that didn’t practice either. Chris Kilham, advisor to herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and a researcher at University of Massachusetts Amherst, said in an in-depth interview with Fox News,
“After eight weeks, blood samples were taken from both groups. The meditation group showed changes in 2209 genes, a very far-reaching effect…. Many of the genetic changes prompted by the yoga practice involved cellular metabolism. This is the capacity of cells to utilize nutrients and oxygen, and to generate energy. Those who practiced the yoga method showed improved cellular metabolism, and better cell function overall.”
Additionally, the Calgary study found that practicing yoga can also extend your life. This is likely an extension of the many benefits that yoga provides to users, as having low stress and being physically and mentally fit can, in general, extend your life.
Remember that these benefits are yielded when you practice yoga regularly, not just sporadically. The long-term effects of yoga and mindfulness are well worth the time put into learning about the practice and doing a few minutes of moves everyday.
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