It began in Warrior II pose. One day, while balancing (precariously) on my legs, my front knee bent at a ninety degree angle, and looking out over the length of my right arm, I began to feel a sensation of poise. Odd, that. Other yoga practitioners will know what I mean. How can one possibly feel poised while twisted into these seemingly unnatural poses? And yet it happens. Softly and subtly at first, but more strongly with each day of practice.
Even stranger is how it carries over into your every day life. While waiting in line at the bank, or at the grocery store, while driving in the car, I will suddenly remember that sensation of poise and sit up straighter, balance my weight more evenly across my hips, and become more mindful. My breath slows and becomes more even. Worries scatter.
Apparently, this feeling of relaxed concentration signals a change that has gone much deeper than my mood. According to a new review published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, by regularly performing mindful activities like yoga, meditation or tai chi, I have actually changed the way my DNA reacts to stress. Instead of pumping out a swarm of inflammatory proteins that increase my risk of cancer, depression, and auto-immune disorders, my genes have learned to do the opposite and now produce less.
If this sounds incredible, it is. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself! Choose any mind-body activity that intrigues you and stick with it for a few weeks. Notice what changes. Notice what doesn’t. Are you breathing more deeply? Maybe your neck is starting to feel less tense. Have you ever noticed before how tight your hips are? And then gradually, very gradually, those physical sensations will start to soften and relax your mind too. And then you’ll realize, like I did, that you need to keep doing this for the rest of your life.
About the author: Rebecca Wong has been working in the herbal business since 2000. She has received her training in acupuncture and herbalism from respected authorities Paul Des Rosiers and Vu Le at the Ontario College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Toronto, and Michael Tierra at the East West Herb School in California.