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Can Warrior Pose Supercharge your Genetics?

By Bob Harding, DO | Articles

Healing Power of Yoga

Yoga has numerous benefits for the body and mind. Regular yoga can result in balanced metabolism, improved breathing patterns, weight loss, increased flexibility, stronger muscle tone, greater cardiovascular health, vibrant energy, and protection from injury. While also reducing inflammation, chronic pain, and insomnia. On a mental or emotional level, yoga reduces stress, improves mental clarity, coping skills, and concentration.

Yoga is now being used in complementary and alternative medicine clinics at hospitals across the  United States. The benefits of yoga have been shown for many health issues from high blood pressure to cancer. Yoga is also used in mental health care to help individuals with anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.

Stress Be Gone

Yoga has been touted for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. The benefits of yoga can be felt after a single session, but long-term practice helps to increase and maintain the relaxation response in the body. Click To Tweet

Numerous studies have shown how yoga reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body, increases circulation, and creates a still centered mind. Yoga helps by using a combination of focus on the breath with gentle movements or stretches. The combination of breath, focus, and slow movements assist usto clear themind and release toxins built up in the body’s muscles.

Yoga has been shown to be so effective that it is being used in the United States Army as part of resiliency training for soldiers. Studies have shown that regular practice of yoga helps improve mental resilience, processing of stress, clear thinking, and provides physical benefits that help reduce strain from carrying heavy battle gear.

Push Inflammation Away

Yoga is a powerful technology for combating both chronic and acute inflammation. Individuals who regularly participate in yoga have experienced significant changes in multiple inflammatory factors that can be measured by researchers including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), cytokines, and cortisol.

BDNF serves a protective role in the body to prevent inflammation and damage to genes. After practicing yoga, BDNF levels increase. While inflammatory cytokines and cortisol levels decrease, this combination of factors led to a decrease in inflammation and improved the functioning of the inflammatory response in the body.

Yoga and meditation have been shown to reverse the pattern of increased NF-kB-related transcription of pro-inflammatory cytokines. The transcription factor NF-kB regulates many aspects of the immune functions in the body and it is an important mediator of inflammatory responses. NF-kB induces the expression of several pro-inflammatory genes, including those encoding cytokines and chemokines. Thus it controls the production of potentially harmful cytokines.  It is also key in the regulation of in inflammasome regulation. Deregulated NF-kB activation contributes to the pathogenic processes of various inflammatory diseases.

Mantras and Methylation

DNA methylation occurs when a methyl group attaches to the ends of DNA

and suppresses their expression. This process can be harmful with the expression of certain genes and beneficial with the expression of others. For example, suppressing or turning off genes that promote increased risk for weight loss which can lead to obesity and other related conditions is certainly beneficial.

Individuals who regularly practice yoga have a reduced rate of DNA methylation which promotes the free expression of healthy genes. Click To Tweet The health benefits are seen in both men and women. However, women have a significantly higher rate of methylation in some areas such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF).

Reaping the Benefits

Now that we know the power of yoga, how do we harness it? A single session of yoga can help to reduce stress, stiffness, and anxiety momentarily. However, to reap long-term benefits, regular practice will need to be established. 

Researchers have found that participating in two yoga sessions a week, for an hour each, can lead to results in as little as eight weeks. There are forms of yoga to suit all ages, abilities, and preferences from chair yoga to hot yoga. No matter which one you choose, consistency is vital.

Conclusion

With the abundance of yoga studios and programs available across the United States and no adverse side effects there isn’t a drawback to trying yoga. While it may not appeal to everyone, the benefits that two hours of yoga a week can provide is well worth giving it a try.

Working with an epigenetic coach can also set you up for success. These specialized coaches can see what risk factors you possess and can help you tailor a health and lifestyle program to maximize the potential of your genetic code. Combined with the healing effect of yoga, coaching can give you the extra boost you need to take charge of your health.

Bob Harding, DO

Bob Harding, DO

Dr. Harding is the Medical Director of the Apeiron Center Austin. He partners with clients to assist them in reaching their Human Potential. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Fellowship, has done advanced study of Functional Medicine through the IFM, and training in Age Management through Cenegenics. He also has over a decade of experience as an Emergency Physician and vast leadership experience. He embarked on his own personal journey in his early 40’s to improve his body composition, optimize his health, and improve his cognitive function. Dr Bob enjoys transforming the lives of his clients by developing personalized human optimization plans.
Bob Harding, DO

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