WASHINGTON: Scientists have achieved a significant breakthrough in understanding how relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, and prayer improve health.
Research collaborators from the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Genomics Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center say that such relaxation techniques work by changing patterns of gene activity that affect how the body responds to stress.
The changes were seen in long-term practitioners as well as in newer recruits during the study.
“It’s not all in your head. 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,” Live Science quoted Herbert Benson an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, as saying.
In a study Benson and colleagues observed that over 2,200 genes were activated differently in the long-time practitioners relative to the controls, and 1,561 genes in the short-timers compared to the long-time practitioners.