There are blog posts and articles all over the place touting the benefits of yoga, tai chi, and meditation, but very few of them actually have much more to go on than personal (or even second-hand) experience. Not much research was done on the – what some consider to be – simply recreational activities and what has been done isn’t necessarily easy to find. At all. That is, until now.
The Frontiers of Immunology Journal published a review of 18 studies and you might be surprised to hear the results – You know how people like to say that these practices change their lives for the better? Turns out it’s not a placebo effect at all; there are actual physical and mental health benefits associated with them and those benefits actually run pretty deep.
How deep you ask?
At A Molecular Level
Those 18 studies involved a total of 846 people; the goal was to figure out how – if at all – our genes are affected by various types of mind-body intervention activities such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation. The combined results? It looks like these types of activities reverse molecular reactions in our DNA that cause depression and other physical and mental illnesses.
These sorts of activities are so great for us, in fact, that they can actually alter the way our genetic code functions.
From the research article:
“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. Put simply, [mind-body interventions] cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our well-being,” – Ivana Buric; doctoral candidate, Brain, Belief, and Behaviour Lab; Coventry University, Great Britain.
While 846 people isn’t a gigantic sample by any stretch, it’s certainly interesting to think that mind-body activities can actually alter who we are at the most fundamental level. Obviously, more research is needed before anyone can draw any serious scientific conclusions, but in the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to start making it a practice to see how it works for you.
Do you practice any type of mind-body activity or practice? Have you noticed any benefits yet? We’d love to hear your personal experiences – Leave them in the comments section below.