WEEK 21.1 – YOGA AND HOW GENES EXPRESS THEMSELVES
Our Genetic DNA, with predisposition to diseases, can be like a loaded gun; our environment however is what often decides if the trigger is to be pulled.
Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can affect gene expression. A study conducted by Harvard Medical School found that people who meditated over an eight-week period had a striking change in the expression of 172 genes that regulate inflammation, circadian rhythms and glucose metabolism. And that, in turn, was linked to a meaningful decrease in their blood pressure². Another study found that after eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation¹.
Study from England, Lead investigator Ivana Buric from the Brain, Belief and Behaviour Lab in Coventry University’s Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement said:
“Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don’t realize is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business.
“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, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.
Experts from the universities conclude that, when examined together, the 18 studies — featuring 846 participants over 11 years — reveal a pattern in the molecular changes which happen to the body as a result of MBIs, and how those changes benefit our mental and physical health.
The researchers focus on how gene expression is affected; in other words the way that genes activate to produce proteins which influence the biological make-up of the body, the brain and the immune system.
When a person is exposed to a stressful event, their sympathetic nervous system (SNS) — the system responsible for the ‘fight-or-flight’ response — is triggered, in turn increasing production of a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) which regulates how our genes are expressed.
NF-kB translates stress by activating genes to produce proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation at cellular level — a reaction that is useful as a short-lived fight-or-flight reaction, but if persistent leads to a higher risk of cancer, accelerated aging and psychiatric disorders like depression.
According to the study, however, people who practice Mindfulness exhibit the opposite effect — namely a decrease in production of NF-kB and cytokines, leading to a reversal of the pro-inflammatory gene expression pattern and a reduction in the risk of inflammation-related diseases and conditions.
The study’s authors say the inflammatory effect of the fight-or-flight response — which also serves to temporarily bolster the immune system — would have played an important role in humankind’s hunter-gatherer prehistory, when there was a higher risk of infection from wounds.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
“Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you lived and fought through it.
Allow your practice tonight to restore and repair damage to your nervous system done to you by our stress infused lifestyles.
Yoga can effectively reduce the body’s stress response by decreasing the production of cortisol, which happens when the sympathetic nervous system is over-worked. The practice effectively does this by increasing the coordination between our minds and our bodies through the physical postures, breathing techniques, and conscious relaxation methods that help stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.
When you are in a raging hurricane of perma-stress, you are in survival mode, just hunkering down and trying to get through the storm. Just as it is not the time to repair your roof during a storm, it is in the aftermath that repairs begin. Hopefully we take an understanding of what we went through to rebuild stronger. Yoga class is that time we give ourselves to rebuild / reconstruct our nervous system.
Every action, feeling or thought leaves an impression on the brain. Over time repeated thoughts and actions can rewire your brain, either negatively or positively.
“He who takes medicine and neglects to diet wastes the skill of his doctors.” – Chinese Proverb
“Prevention is better than cure.”
“Your body holds deep wisdom. Trust in it. Learn from it. Nourish it. Watch your life transform and be healthy.” –Bella Bleue
“Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.” –Josh Billings
“It is through the alignment of the body that I discovered the alignment of my mind, self, and intelligence.” – B.K.S. Iyengar
“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” ~Dalai Lama
From the Gita:
[of yoga] “On this path no effort is wasted, no gain is ever reversed; even a little of this practice will shelter you from great sorrow.”
Your soul is your best friend. Treat it with care, nurture it with growth, feed it with love
“The nature of yoga is to shine the light of awareness into the darkest corners of the body.” – Jason Crandell
“I am not this hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within.” – Rumi
“What you seek is seeking you.” – Rumi
“Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction.” – Rumi
“Don’t be afraid to start over. This time you’re not starting from scratch, you’re starting from experience.”
Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.
“Yoga is a dance between control and surrender – between pushing and letting go – and when to push and to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your well-being.” –Joel Kramer
Practice – EFFORTLESS AWARENESS. The practice of Effortless power instead of powerful effort.”
“What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle.” – Rumi
“I bend so I don’t break.”
Yoga teaches us to create a life that feels good on the inside and not just the outside.
“Kindness is lighting someone else’s torch with your own inner flame.”
When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves. William Arthur Ward
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” – Soren Kierkegaard
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. We are here to observe, to learn, to grow, to love, and then we return home.” Australian Aboriginal Proverb
“When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure. When all is lost, there is still a memory. Life is only as good as the memories we make.”
“Never go in search of love, go in search of life and life will find you the love you seek.”
“To get over the past you first have to accept that the past is over. No matter how many times you revisit it, analyze it, sweat it, or regret it, it’s over. The past can hurt you no more.” ~Mandy Hale
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”- B.K.S. Iyengar
“If you say NO to someone and they get upset, it does not mean you should have said yes.” Never say yes, when your heart means no.
“Every situation in life is temporary. So, when life is good, make sure you enjoy and receive it fully. And when life is not so good, remember that it will not last forever and better days are on the way.” Jenni Young
“Take care of yourself so you’re strong and healthy for the important people in your life. It’s not selfish. It’s self-nurturing, it’s necessary, and you’re allowed.” – Farnoosh Brock
“When you seek love with all your heart you shall find its echo in the universe.” – Rumi