Yoga is a great stress reducer and its movements can contribute to the reduction of chronic inflammation in the body according to university studies.
By Dawn Flemming
Yoga is an ancient Indian exercise that involves breathing techniques, exercise, stretching and meditation. In recent decades it has drawn a lot of attention in the West for its various health benefits, including the treatment of cancer, schizophrenia, asthma and heart disease. Yoga has also been shown to help tame chronic inflammation in the body.
In one study conducted by the University of South Carolina, it was shown that after three months of rigorous yoga and meditation exercise, saliva samples showed noticeable decreases in markers for inflammation in the body.
The lead researcher of the study concluded the following:
“these activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed.”
Celebrity physician Dr. Andrew Weil, a famous medical doctor trained in Harvard Medical school explains this process as follows:
We know that stress triggers the “fight or flight” response that increases production of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB), a molecule that regulates gene expression. The British study found that in people who practice mind-body exercises, production of NF-kB and cytokines (proteins that cause inflammation at the cellular level) decreases, leading to a reversal of pro-inflammatory gene expression and a reduction in the risk of diseases related to inflammation.
12 weeks of yoga slowed cellular aging. The program consisted of 90 minutes of yoga that included physical postures, breathing, and meditation five days a week over 12 weeks. Researchers found indications of lower levels of inflammation and significantly decreased levels of cortisol. The study also found higher levels of BDNF after the yoga program, suggesting that yoga could have potential protective effects for the brain as well.
Stress reduction seems to play a great role in the easing of inflammation in the body, and this has been shown with chronic autoimmune diseases that are characterized by inflammation. Other kinds of exercises seem to have similar effects. Last week we saw how the practice of Qigong can help with autoimmune diseases.
Speak to your doctor and see if your health allows you to practice yoga. It may make a difference!
Dawn Flemming is Director of Business Services at Geriatric In-Home Care in Fresno, California.