Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Research Finds Yoga and Meditation May Reverse Stress-Damaged Genes

Book cover of Book cover via Amazon

I recently recieved this bit of research in an e-letter from Amy Weintruab. Amy is a fellow Kripalu Yoga Teacher and leading expert in the use of yoga and meditation in healing depression. Her book, Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga, is an absolute must have for any yoga teacher, and for anyone who is suffering through depression, or has loved ones that struggle with depression. Unfortunately, I suspect that covers just about everyone.

Her book and her teaching are so compassionate. I can tell you, if you are suffering in the depths of depression right now, Amy's book and her healing work with yoga will bring you a profound sense of comfort, and a new, powerful way to heal yourself. Learn more about her current workshops here.

Amy is also an amazing researcher and brings forward in her writing, and through her workshops, a lot of the cutting edge research being done with yoga in the treatment of depression, bi-polar disorder, PTSS, and other debilitating conditions.

Some of the best news to come out of research is that not only does yoga help you to feel better, it seems that it may also actually help to repair the damage done to genes as a result of depression and stress.

Consider this quote from Amy's newsletter:

In the 70's, Dr. Herbert Benson made headlines when he reported on his research at Harvard, showing the benefits of Transcendental Meditation and what he called "The Relaxation Response" in ameliorating or reducing all kinds of stress-related symptoms, including high blood pressure, heart disease, different kinds of pain, infertility, rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia, and a range of psychological symptoms. The professor is still at it, reporting as senior co-author in the journal PLoS One a significant advance in the understanding of how relaxation techniques such as meditation, prayer and yoga improve health: by changing patterns of gene activity that affect how the body responds to stress.

In the first comprehensive look at how mind states can affect gene expression, 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. In both long- and short-term meditators, it appears that gene damage from stress may be reversed.

Further genetic analysis revealed changes in cellular metabolism, response to oxidative stress and other processes in both short- and long-term practitioners. All of these processes may contribute to cellular damage stemming from chronic stress.

"It's not all in your head," said Dr. Herbert Benson, president emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "What we have found is that when you evoke the relaxation response, the very genes that are turned on or off by stress are turned the other way. The mind can actively turn on and turn off genes. The mind is not separated from the body."

You can sign up for Amy Weintraub's newsletter, here.

Depression is not a life sentence, and it isn't something you have to suffer through alone. If you are struggling with depression I urge you to bring yoga and meditation into your life. Give it a try!

There are two more great articles below...

May you be happy, may you be filled with great peace,

Teal Marie

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