Nov 30, 2023
Nov 30, 2023
A Dance with Our DNA for Better Health
The vast plains of human health, intertwined with its countless mysteries and wonders, seem to echo a single, resonant question, “What if the power to heal, rejuvenate, and rebirth lay latent within us? What if we could unlock it through a millennia-old practice – yoga?” Driven by this curiosity, a team of researchers at the prestigious AIIMS embarked on an extraordinary journey over a decade ago to unravel the health benefits hidden within the ancient ritual of yoga.
They embarked on an exploration of an internal cosmos, mapping the frontier where mind, body, and energy medicine merge. Their mission? To investigate how yoga, with its elegant postures, rhythmic breathwork, and contemplative meditation, could combat the plagues of our times – complex lifestyle diseases like depression, arthritis, infertility, and more. Their unique pioneering endeavor led them on a voyage through the genomes and epigenomes of hundreds of patients across an array of afflictions. The results? Unprecedented.
For the unacquainted, yoga is not merely a sequence of physical postures or asanas. It is an all-encompassing system, a trinity of asana, pranayama, and dhyana - all designed to create harmony between mind and body, resulting in a state of parasympathetic dominance. This is the body’s system for rest, repair, and digestion; a state that reduces stress and inflames.
In their studies, they unearthed the astonishing ability of yoga to manipulate the very blueprints of life, DNA. For example, in rheumatoid arthritis, a notoriously chronic and inflammatory disease, yoga was found to decrease inflammation indicators, maintain immune homeostasis, and crucially, enhance DNA repair. In the realm of mental health, yoga emerged as a vital tool for fostering emotional resilience. It was seen to increase grey matter in brain areas such as the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, and reduce the size of the amygdala, our stress center.
And what about the affliction that silently haunts many couples worldwide – infertility? In nearly half of all infertility cases, the problem lies with the male. The team at AIIMS illuminated the incredible power of yoga to combat oxidative stress and DNA damage, factors that contribute heavily to infertility. Their research shows how yoga helps normalize levels of sperm transcripts, improving the integrity of both the mitochondrial and nuclear genome. This not only aids in overcoming infertility but also impacts the lifelong health of the offspring.
As they ventured further, the team discovered the benefits of yoga extended into other lifestyle diseases as well. Meditation focused on breathing was found to decrease intraocular pressure, a risk factor for glaucoma, reduce cortisol levels and improve overall quality of life.
With such compelling evidence at hand, the team boldly suggests yoga as a “polypill”, a universal remedy. It's a modulator of the epigenome, capable of switching on gene programs beneficial for health and wellness. Practiced regularly, it can serve as a preventive measure against disease, promoting holistic health.
But, as we marvel at the profound revelations of this research, let us take a moment to contemplate two poignant questions. "What if we've been holding the key to our own well-being all along? And isn't it time we unlock the immense potential that lies within the harmonious trinity of asana, pranayama, and dhyana?" The answers to these questions might not just change the way we live our lives but could potentially reshape the narrative of human health in the 21st century.
Image (c) istock.com
More by : P. Mohan Chandran