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How Yoga Changes Your DNA

by Anjala Farahath

If you are an ardent practitioner of yoga, a pupil of asanas, restorative poses, and meditation, you are well versed with the transformative powers yoga can have on your mind. With yoga, you can walk into that class at the break of dawn with no sleep and you can still walk out feeling reinvigorated. You are ready to take on the day with an equanimity that’s usually only amassed by the saints. Yes, yoga is quite beneficial in our lives. But did you know that along with arming yourself with a Zen-like attitude, increasing your flexibility, and toning your body, yoga also alters our DNA (1)? Puzzled?

Yoga isn’t just about chanting “Om” or doing suryanamaskaras to keep yourself fit, it actually works on a cellular level to benefit the body.

Yoga Calms Down The NF-kB

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NF-kB (Nuclear factor-kappa B) causes inflammation on a cellular level which can affect our health critically (2). When the body is stressed, beaten down and harangued by issues that incessantly plague our lives, we are instinctively wired for a fight or flight response. Instinct takes over and you either fight or make a run for the hills. This response which is activated during stressful situations increases the production of a gene regulating molecule called the nuclear factor kappa B. It is a protein complex responsible for the transcription of DNA.

The fringe benefits to yoga are plenty. It perfects your body posture, helps in building muscle strength, increases the blood flow, boosts immunity, controls the blood pressure, so on and so forth. But, it also transforms the structure of your DNA. That is pretty darn impressive, isn’t it? Perhaps the instructor was onto something every time he asked us to bend in an ungainly painful angle. He wasn’t just trying to use it as a torture instrument to accommodate his sadistic wishes but actually contriving to better our lives. With regular yoga, one can control NF-kB and reduce inflammation and thereby prevent any bouts of anxiety, depression, or cancer (3).

Yoga Controls The Mind And Body

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In the present scenario where we’re thrown into stressful situations with jarring frequency, it’s quite normal to become quite unhinged and lose our cool and become quite morose as time goes by. With the help of yoga, you can deal with stress like it’s a piece of cake (4). These asanas can reduce the production of the molecule that leads to a reduction of a pro-inflammatory gene expression pattern and the associated reduction in risk of serious health concerns.

There is enough evidence to prove that yoga can actually alter the gene expression (5). Meditation, Tai Chi, and yoga are a form of mind-body interventions (6). These are medical or pseudo-medical interventions that come from the idea that the mind influences the body. So, when you expose your body to yoga, you are actually allowing it to influence your mind and body by flipping the switch over and turning out all the negative energy (that includes all forms of stress, anxiety, and depression).

Yoga Works At A Molecular Level

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Researchers have found that the impact of yoga can be remarkable. Women who were analyzed during the research were found to be less stressed when they practiced yoga (7). When we bend our bodies to Yogasanas, we are actually letting our bodies leave a molecular signature in our cells. These signatures have a positive effect on our body that ensures our wellbeing. Yoga effectively targets cognitive, autonomic, emotional, and behavioral outputs. Studies have time and again suggested that yoga can impart a positive change on the metabolic processes, which in turn improves the absorption of nutrients, and betters the cell’s functions to an extent that it increases cell’s longevity (8).

The Best Style Of Yoga

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Whether it is to burn fat or correct your posture or to just calm your chaotic mind, there are yoga postures that cater specifically to the needs. Choose a style that matches your fitness level, and bend it like Beckham.

If you boast of a fit body and can take over challenges, Ashtanga Yoga, Bikram Yoga, or Power Yoga should be your area of asanas. Based on sequential poses, these styles focus on your breath, correct your medical conditions, and build your upper body strength respectively.

If you are a beginner and relatively new to the world of yogis; you can choose from the range of Kripalu yoga, Hatha yoga, Iyengar yoga, Viniyoga, or Sivananda yoga. These are gentler forms of yoga and one can easily adapt to the postures. But, remember, when you’re busy burning calories, your body is actually undergoing gene-altering changes, how amazing is that!

If we didn’t already have plenty of reasons to believe in the ancient sacred practice, yoga, we have now educated you on how yoga can transform you from within.

What’s your yoga style? Let us know in the comments below.

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Anjala Farahath

Anjala Farahath is a 23-year-old tall mess under a hijab, trying to fit into the world of crop top while traveling nonstop, converting her passions into her job, and occasionally soaking in the raindrop. Do you think she needs to stop?