I'll bet that's a surprise, huh? I admit, when I first saw those headlines, I was skeptical. Even though I see firsthand every day how much Yoga helps our physical health, I didn’t understand the "why." Now that it makes so much sense, I wonder why someone hadn’t discovered this information long ago.
For years we‘ve known that practices like Yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi make us feel better, breathe better, remove stress, and even sleep well. “New science” has shown us that these mind/body practices leave, what science calls, a “molecular signature” in our cells; they actually cause our body to either raise or lower the protein production of our genes. Cool!
One recent study examined the effects of mindfulness practices on the immune system, with a specific focus on five outcomes: (1) circulating and stimulated inflammatory proteins, (2) cellular transcription factors and gene expression, (3) immune cell count, (4) immune cell aging, (5) antibody response. Their conclusion is that there is enough evidence to support a link between these mindfulness practices and gene expression to warrant further studies. YES! Let’s get more scientific evidence on board so that more docs will recommend Yoga, meditation, etc.
Another review seemed to point to what most of us already know – the majority of improvements and health benefits that people enjoy from these mindfulness practices are related to stress hormones and inflammation. While previous studies have focused on how these practices affect our brains (losing less of our grey matter as we age), this study also looked specifically at how our genes are affected. Certain genes are either upregulated or downregulated in our body throughout our day, based on many different circumstances. All of the studies measured what they call “gene expression,” (the way that genes activate to produce proteins which influence the biological make-up of the body, the brain, and the immune system.) They used blood samples to identify this gene expression both before and after each different mindfulness practice. Some studies were all about Yoga, some Tai Chi, others studied different forms of meditation, etc. In all the studies, the gene expressions of genes that control inflammation and stress were changed after the session.
The results of 18 studies that used gene expression analysis in research on mindfulness practices have, overall, found a significant downregulation of NF-κB (a key transcription factor that controls the expression of inflammation-related genes), which can reverse the molecular effects of chronic stress. I’ll take that!
Even though the study designs, the population, and the types of mindfulness practices used in the studies included in this review vary, it indicates that some of the psychological and physical benefits result from biological changes in NF-κB genes. More studies are currently being done to understand better how Yoga and other mindfulness practices affect our genes.
Another study, which was a follow up to a previous study done at UCLA, found that the Yogic meditation practice called Kirtan Kriya, reversed the pattern of increased NF-κB-related transcription of pro-inflammatory cytokines and decreased IRF1-related transcription of innate antiviral response genes previously observed in healthy individuals confronting a significant life stressor. Translation: This meditation practice reversed the inflammatory process in stressed out caregivers! This particular study was done on caregivers who live with the daily stress of caring for family members with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
When that first UCLA study came out, I wrote an article about it and offered training in this particular meditation practice. I am offering a special on Kirtan Kriya meditation training again today. You can find out more, and sign up HERE.
Dr. Helen Lavretsky, senior author of this study and a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and her colleagues, found, in their work with 45 family dementia caregivers, that 68 of their genes responded differently after Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM), resulting in reduced inflammation. “The goal of the study was to determine if meditation might alter the activity of inflammatory and antiviral proteins that shape immune cell gene expression," said Lavretsky. "Our analysis showed a reduced activity of those proteins linked directly to increased inflammation. This is encouraging news. Caregivers often don’t have the time, energy, or contacts that could bring them a little relief from the stress of taking care of a loved one with dementia, so practicing a brief form of yogic meditation, which is easy to learn, is a useful tool."
Notice she used the word “brief”. This meditation takes only twelve minutes a day! Can you spare twelve minutes a day to alter your genes for reduced inflammation as well as increase your grey matter? Sign up now and learn this easy meditation practice!
Best of Health,
Rushing through your Holiday Season?
Want to make this December a little bit less stressful and feel less overwhelmed and overwrought by the end of the year?
Spend THREE minutes a day doing this and you'll reduce all that tension and stress, relax all the muscles in your back and neck, dissolve tension and arrive on Jan 1st pain free!
Keep those muscles in good health and avoid the pain and strain with this simple exercise!
Best of Health,
My friend Dianna Mullane and I are launching our enchanting, stress relieving, adult coloring book, "A Coloring Book For Women - 30 Divine Designs." Dianna and I have just completed this project of love and we're so excited to share it with you today!
"A Coloring Book For Women - 30 Divine Designs," was written by, and for, women. This is different from any of the others that I have found in bookstores or on Amazon. We wanted to provide something more; something informative, something that would be a way to connect with our inner child again. According to this review on Amazon, we have been successful!
"I tried adult coloring books before, but the designs were busy, geometric designs that I found difficult to color. Those types of coloring books actually ended up frustrating me more than anything! But, "A Coloring Book For Women, 30 Divine Designs," is very different; the designs that Kathi Casey and Dianna Mullane have chosen are lovely and FUN to color! After all, that's why we want to color again, right? To feel the joy we did as children when we sat down to color. I love this book and can't recommend it enough!" -- Jane
The book is available on Amazon, (go take a sneak peek) and also HERE on my website, where, for the same price, we'll include a box of colored pencils to get you started. Each design in our book has a description that will inspire, empower, or simply bring a smile to your face.
If you are starting your holiday shopping this week, please consider our simple, inexpensive stress relief, for all the women on your list (including you!).
Here's what people are saying about our coloring book:
"This book is GORGEOUS! I've seen plenty of adult coloring books, but this one tops them all! Calm and pleasant designs to color that don't make my head explode! I love it. No complicated geometric designs; instead, lovely designs that have meaning for women and are truly a meditative and soothing experience to engage with. This really is a coloring book for all women. I especially love the depiction of Pinga, an Inuit goddess of fertility, medicine, and the hunt. She is surrounded by two beautiful swans. I highly recommend this book!"Estra Roell
"A Coloring Book for Women: 30 Divine Designs" is a dream come true. An adult coloring book created just for women! The pictures are incredibly creative and inspiring. There are descriptions with each design that help you think, and contemplate your own inner path. It is a fantastic addition to the adult coloring book world. I highly recommend "A Coloring Book For Women: 30 Divine Designs." A great gift for the holidays!!!" Elizabeth Helming
Best of Health,
HERE is a link to a report that reinforces what other studies have proven how taking some exercise time in nature benefits our mood and brain. Ned and I went for a long hike last weekend and I felt soooooo much better afterward. I was glad that he insisted we get outside!
Get outside and exercise! In this recent study, researchers investigated whether spending time in nature affects rumination, and they found that hiking in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts. Cool – we can all use more positive thoughts…
In this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through an urban environment and a nature environment. They found that those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment, a grassland near Stanford University, reported lower levels of rumination and also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which is associated with mental illness. Those who walked through an urban environment didn’t enjoy these benefits.
These researchers indicate that our world is becoming more and more urban and that urbanization is linked to depression and other forms of mental illness. Visibly, simply removing us from an urban environment to spend time outdoors where there are fewer mental stressors, less noise, and fewer distractions can be advantageous for our mental health.
In another study by Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer, creative problem solving was improved by disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. In this study, participants hiked while backpacking in nature for approximately four days and they were prohibited from using technology. They were asked to perform tasks requiring creativity and complex problem solving. They found that those immersed in the hiking excursions had increased performance on problem-solving tasks by 50 percent. Wow!
Not to mention that we all know the benefits of walking/hiking for osteoporosis prevention.
So get out there and “take a hike!” And then when you come home, relax your spine with this simple Yoga inversion.
Best of Health,
This is a good time of year to bring the breathing practice,"Brahmari Breath," back out.
Great stress reliever, can be used to help the little ones who are about to have a melt down, and also helps lower blood pressure!
For many people stress goes right to their backs – what a pain in the butt!
If you need a little stress relief to help calm your back pain try Brahmari!
In fact, let's try it right now:
Ahhh, feel better?
Best of Health,
Thanksgiving is a November holiday that we know well, but are you aware that World Peace Day is the 17th? I know we don't get that day off, but let's take a moment now to contemplate the idea of peace. What does world peace look like to you? Do you feel you can make a difference in the bigger picture? Praying for peace is easy, but it isn't the only way we can help facilitate peace. "Being" peace is something that we, perhaps, don't give much thought to. When we are peaceful, however, when we FEEL peaceful, we share that vibration with everyone around us.
The Dalai Lama has said "World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not the absence of violence; peace is the manifestation of human compassion." I believe he is correct. Many times I have seen examples of how a simple act of compassion for another human being changes others, thus making a larger difference than I expected.
Look around you in the grocery store. There is often an elderly person in a wheelchair shopping cart. It's very hard to reach some of the shelves from those carts - offer to get something off the shelf or to carry something that might not fit on their cart. And the person bagging your groceries may be someone with a physical or mental challenge. How about smiling and making conversation with that person instead of ignoring or thinking about how slowly they are packing? Compassion is easy to share with others. First, we have to look around and truly see the people we often ignore.
I find that shopping in any store is the easiest way to find people that are in need of my contagious smile and a kind word. And the best part is that when I see, acknowledge, smile, and chat with people, others around me often take a moment to share a smile and a kind word too. Then the people behind them in line do, too, and the ripple spreads out peace and love to many. Try it yourself and see what a difference you can make!
Best of Health,