Yoga And Your Genes

The medical community has debated over whether or not yoga and meditation have valid, measurable health benefits. In 2007, we told you about a study that prompted researchers to say the methods' perceived advantages could very well be all in the practitioners' minds. But yet another, newer study shows that the effects are not only real, but reach as deeply as our genes.

Researchers in the Boston area have found that the mind and body are so deeply connected that meditation and yoga can actually change the patterns of stress-related gene activity. This could consequently influence cellular metabolism and how the body reacts to oxidation.

"What we have found is that when you evoke the relaxation response, the very genes that are turned on or off by stress are turned the other way." Harvard professor and study author Dr. Herbert Benson told HealthDay. "The mind can actively turn on and turn off genes."

Other practices that could have this effect include tai chi, breathing exercises, biofeedback and qigong.