Whether you have been practicing meditation or yoga for years or having only recently approached these wonderful disciplines, it is impossible not to be fascinated by the many beneficial effects they bring into our lives.
In fact, it is not a matter of self-fine practices: one of the reasons why yoga has become so popular is that many health and fitness enthusiasts through a simple daily routine can significantly reduce their stress levels. A new study published in the journal ” Frontiers in Immunology “ confirms what yoga enthusiasts have been saying for years: ascetic practices involving mind and body such as yoga, meditation, and tai chi reduce stress at the molecular level and can also lower the risk of illness and depression. Let’s find out how.
Why are we stressed?
Before discovering the innovative results of this study, let’s see in detail how our body generates stress and what are its triggering causes.
When we are exposed to a stressful event, our body activates the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for the so-called “escape or fight” reaction which, when activated, increases the production of a molecule called NF-kB. This molecule fights negative stimulus by activating genes to produce a protein called cytokine, which causes inflammation at the cellular level.
Why is this reaction so important? While the inflammatory process is very effective in the short term, if stress persists this inflammation persists over time and can lead to a higher risk of contracting certain diseases, including tumors, as well as inducing accelerated aging and making us more prone to depression.
Interestingly, the study authors found that this inflammatory process would play an important role in our hunter-gatherer prehistory, “as it linked the escape or fight response to a pro-inflammatory genetic expression capable of providing protection when there was a greater risk of contracting bacterial infections from wounds “.
Although this mechanism worked wonders when our stress existed in the primitive world (we think of the example of being attacked by a wild animal), “in today’s society, where stress is primarily the result of psychological threats, this response is counterproductive in what paves the way for diseases related to inflammation, both psychiatric and physical “ .
The results of the study have scientifically proven that people practicing physical and spiritual disciplines such as yoga and meditation experience a decrease in pro-inflammatory genetic expression. “Millions of people around the world already enjoy the benefits of practices such as yoga or meditation, but what they may not realize is that these benefits start at the molecular level and can change the way our genetic code reacts to stimuli,” he said. stated the researcher Ivana Buric of Brain, Belief, and Behavior Lab at the Center for Psychology, Behavior, and Self-Realization of the University of Coventry.
These activities [yoga and meditation, ed.] Are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety exert on the body, changing the way our genes express themselves. Simply put, ascetic practices cause our brains to guide our cellular processes along a path that improves our well-being .
Although there are many other factors that can be attributed to lowering levels of stress and inflammation (such as rest and a healthy diet) and further research still needs to be conducted on the topic, this result is certainly encouraging for those planning to undertake a path of meditation or yoga and needs a valid motivation to start.
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