I can say from experience that, every time I get into a consistent routine of yoga or meditation, I always notice a difference in my day-to-day life.
For a combination of reasons, I'm prone to anxiety and depression, so mindfulness practices are often suggested to me as tools to help manage my emotions and well-being.
On the simplest level, when I allow myself time to slow down, and say, focus on my breath (even if it's just stopping on a stoop in the middle of Manhattan to close my eyes), it inevitably impacts the rest of my day.
I usually feel calmer, and almost always more attuned to myself. And everyone could use a little more of that, right?
These types of mindful habits, like yoga, meditation, and Tai-Chi, are considered by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health to be something called mind-body interventions -- medical and “pseudomedical” tactics based on the concept that the physical condition of the body is affected by the mind.
Basically, these practices have a really positive effect on your overall well-being.
Yogis, hold your "duhs" for just a second.
A new study published in Frontiers in Immunology shows that there's quite a bit of scientific research to strengthen and confirm what yogis have been saying for years.
According to this new research, practices like yoga and meditation have been shown to actually reverse molecular reactions within our DNA that result in depression and anxiety.
Over the course of 11 years, the 18 studies conducted through U.K.-based Coventry University and Netherlands-based Radboud University, featured 846 participants and revealed changes in their molecular makeup that benefit mental and physical health.
How, you may ask?
When you feel stressed out, your sympathetic nervous system (which controls your fight-or-flight response) is set off, and your genes are activated to produce proteins that cause inflammation of the cells.
From time to time, that response works as a useful spike of fear or anxiety in situations that require it, but if this is something you experience on a more regular basis, it can lead to a heightened risk of cancer, a faster process of aging, and clinical depression.
The study showed that people who habitually practice these mind-body interventions ultimately experience a decreased production of the protein that causes cellular inflammation, and a reversal of the pro-inflammatory gene.
And therefore, they see a reduction in all those pesky symptoms that subsequently affect you.
On that note, I think I'll take an break now to do some breathing exercises, aka rewrite the fabric of my cells.