Yoga supports a healthy metabolism, strengthens the immune system and enhances brain function. Stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can enhance the body’s ability to handle and recover from stressors like chronic disease, work stress, or relationship stress.
These practices bring the body in to a state of relaxation, dominated by the parasympathetic nervous system. New research is providing some insight into why yoga and these techniques are beneficial to our health.
Researches at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Mass. General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center uncovered one of the reasons why these stress reduction techniques have such great benefits.
They found that eliciting the relaxation response induced by yoga and meditation produces changes in the expression of genes that regulate the immune system, energy levels, and blood sugar levels.
Changes in the expression of many important groups of genes demonstrate one mechanism why these techniques have such benefits to those with chronic diseases. For example, pathways involved with energy metabolism, specifically mitochondrial function, were upregulated in the test subjects once they reached a state of relaxation.
Also, pathways activated by an inflammatory messenger molecule, NF-kB known to play a role in inflammation, stress, and even cancer were suppressed after the participants had a stress-reduction session.
What else can stress management techniques like yoga do to support your health?
Yoga can also enhance brain function. Researches at the University of Illinois, at Urbana Champagne demonstrated that after just 20 minutes of Hatha Yoga, participants showed significant improvements in speed and accuracy tests. In fact, participants performed significantly better after the yoga practice than after 20 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise!
The lead researcher of this study stated that, “following a yoga practice, participants were better able to focus their mental resources, process information quickly, more accurately, and also learn, hold and update pieces of information more effectively than after performing an aerobic exercise bout.”
Yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises are known to reduce anxiety and stress, support the immune system, boost brain function, and do so much more to revitalize your body! Research also shows that it might even be more beneficial than traditional aerobic exercise (on a treadmill or stationary bike) due to its emphasis on breathing, balance, stretching, and tranquility. Have you practiced yoga before? Give it a try and you can reap the benefits of this stress-relieving exercise that supports your body and spirit!