Yoga, med. & Health
Yoga, Meditation and health
Dr. Gerry Leisman, director of the F.R. Carrick Institute for Clinical Ergonomics, Rehabilitation and Applied Neuroscience at Leeds Metropolitan University in the U.K., agreed: “It’s sort of like reverse thinking: If you can wreak havoc on yourself with lifestyle choices, for example, [in a way that] causes expression of latent genetic manifestations in the negative, then the reverse should hold true.”
Leisman added: “Biology is not entirely our destiny, so while there are things that give us risk factors, there’s a lot of ‘wiggle’ in this. This paper is pointing that there is a technique that allows us to play with the wiggle.”
Benson, a pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine, first described the relaxation response 35 years ago.
Mind-body approaches that elicit the response include meditation, repetitive prayer, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback, guided imagery and Qi Gong.
“Previously, we had noted that there were scores of diseases that could be treated by eliciting the relaxation response — everything from different kinds of pain, infertility, rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia,” Benson said.
During the study, Benson and his colleagues compared gene-expression patterns in 19 long-term practitioners, 19 healthy controls, and 20 newcomers who underwent eight weeks of relaxation-response training.
The researchers observed that over 2,200 genes were activated differently in the long-time practitioners relative to the controls, and 1,561 genes in the short-timers compared to the long-time practitioners.
They also found that some 433 of the differently activated genes were shared among short-term and long-term practitioners.
Upon further genetic analysis, the researchers saw observed changes in cellular metabolism, response to oxidative stress and other processes in both short- and long-term practitioners.
All such processes might contribute to cellular damage stemming from chronic stress.