How Yoga Can Combat Illness and Depression
By TJ Bartel, July 10, 2019
Feeling sick or down? The research says, go do yoga! This fits with my personal experience with yoga. I feel so much better on the days I do my yoga practice, even if it’s just breathing into a few poses and some gentle stretches. I feel clearer and more productive. But yoga more than just a mood booster. The connection between the mind and body has been studied for decades, with researchers finding recently that meditative practices, such as mindfulness and yoga, actually affect us on a molecular level, going so far as to even combat reactions in our DNA that lead to illnesses of all sorts. We can look at some of the first human beings to ever exist as a source for this information. We are all programmed with fight-or-flight responses when experiencing stressful situations. This was essential to our survival, and still is to this day. However, the modern world often triggers this response far more often than it once did, overusing this innate function and negatively affecting our physical and mental health. Millions of years ago, this response may have only been triggered when faced by predators, allowing one’s nervous system to return to normal in a reasonable amount of time. Today, the constant stressors of our lives prevent our levels from returning to steady rates quickly, leading to increased chances of mental health issues, or even cancer. The sympathetic nervous system, when triggered, releases an increased amount of nuclear factor kappa B, or “NF-kB,” which controls how human genes are expressed. The more of these molecules, the higher the production of cytokines, which cause an inflammatory response and increased pain. While it may seem impossible to stop a natural bodily function, we can directly combat this through mind-body interventions like relaxation, meditation, and yoga. It has been observed that individuals who take part in yoga or meditation show decreased levels of cytokines and a much slower production of NF-kB molecules. Yoga, specifically, clears the mind while also acting as light exercise. Through performing MBIs, our brains can effectively switch the paths of our DNA in a direction that is more beneficial for us overall. While it was widely considered speculation in the past, these breakthroughs in research have shown that mindful practices like yoga and meditation do, in fact, benefit us physically and mentally, preventing illnesses of both varieties. For anyone new to MBIs that want to get started today, check out my previous blog on yoga for beginners! Tj Bartel teaches Energy Mastery for individuals and those in relationships. His one-on-one energy balancing sessions use his signature Life-Force Energetic Alignment Protocol (LEAP) to provide a complete upgrade and overhaul to the energy body. Learn more about LEAP sessions here.