Yoga affects the expression of genes that cause inflammation

By conducting a meta-analysis of previous studies, scientists were able to compare results and identify the most significant trends.

A comparison of studies on yoga, mindfulness practices, relaxation techniques and breathing regulation revealed what all of these activities have in common – they all affect gene expression as opposed to the effects of chronic stress.

Lifestyle and environment can influence which genes are turned on and off, and this analysis shows that mind-body practices, such as yoga, can turn off genes that are normally activated by stress–the genes that cause inflammation.

The implication of these findings is that yoga and other body and mind practices can reduce the risk of inflammation-related diseases and conditions that cause physical and psychological harm.

In her correspondence with TIME, Ivana Buric, lead author of the scientific review, stressed that inherited genes are not static. And also that DNA activity can be influenced by factors we can control.

“By choosing healthy habits every day, we can create a pattern of gene activity that is more beneficial to our health,” she says. – Even just 15 minutes of mindfulness practice seems to do the trick.”