Meditation and Yoga’s Genetic Impact
Plenty of research has proved that meditation and yoga can lower blood pressure, improve mood, counter stress, and benefit your mental and physical health. Now a new study has shown for the first time that these ancient centering practices can actually affect your genes, turning beneficial ones on and harmful ones off. Researchers analyzed the genes of 26 volunteers who were unfamiliar with meditation, and then taught them a 10 to 20 minute meditation routine that involved rhythmic breathing, chanting, and focusing the mind.
After the volunteers meditated twice a day for eight weeks, researchers found that the practice had activated genes that make cells more efficient at metabolizing energy and that protect telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes that help protect DNA from damage caused by aging. The practice also appeared to deactivate genes related to chronic inflammation, a risk factor for many diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Meditation is “not New Age nonsense,” study author Herbert Benson of Massachusetts General Hospital tells New Scientist. “These effects are quite powerful in how they change your gene activity.”