We can all appreciate how important gene health is, after all the way our genes are activated can have a significant impact on our biology.
For example when we're stressed our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which is responsible for fight or flight is triggered and this results in the increased production of a certain molecule called Nuclear Factor kappa B, (NF-kb) this molecule regulates how genes are expressed.
When (NF-kb) is increased in the body due to a stressful event what we end up with is an activation of the genes to produce proteins called cytokines that actually cause inflammation in our cells.
When the stress is short term the inflammation isn't all that significant and the effects not so devastating but when the body is under prolonged periods of stress that's a different story all together, this can increase our risk of cancer, depression and result in a speeding up of the aging process.
The study that was published in the Journal Frontiers in Immunology in 2017 and reviewed 18 studies done over 11 years found that people who practiced yoga, meditation, tai chi, and the like experience a reverse in the above process.
So with lower amounts of NF-kB and inflammatory proteins running around in cells we see a reduction in the risk of inflammation related conditions.
Those of us who practice yoga regularly experience the benefits through feeling more relaxed, experiencing less pain and experiencing a greater sense of well-being however very few of us appreciate that the effects of our practice can be seen at a cellular level.
Our practice is essentially reversing the effects of stress and anxiety on the body by changing the way our genes are being expressed which is pretty cool.
Having personally struggled with a seriously compromised immune system, chronic fatigue, and anxiety in my late teens that started during my HSC year. I can say that without a doubt yoga played a huge role not only improving my mental health but also my immunity.
It seemed at one stage that if I even so much as looked at a sick person I was bound to catch whatever they had. At one stage I was on anti-biotic injections daily to prevent kidney infections which were becoming a regular occurrence and vitamin injections every week. In and out of specialist appointments with very little answers being offered up.
While many of my friends were thriving and enjoying their life after school, my lack of good health and vitality over 18 months resulted in me ending up extremely depressed and hopeless.
Looking back now this period of time was such a gift for me, I believe it was absolutely meant to happen... It's this experience that started me on the path to study to become a naturopath and then of course I found the yoga.
Now when I sit across from someone who is struggling with the same picture I feel so much understanding and empathy for what they're going through. It can be so hard to even think about attending a class when you're struggling with illness or pain but it's the simple stuff that makes the world of difference.
Simple simple movements... and a connection to a teacher who speaks your language and can encourage you and give you support when you need to hear and feel it.
It's great when the science supports these ancient practices but it's even better when I receive emails from students who implement these practices long enough to experience the results themselves. I'm really lucky to do the work I'm most passionate about.