Relaxing Yoga Poses to Help ‘Reverse’ Stress-Inducing DNA Damage

Yoga For Complete Beginners – 20 Minutes Yoga Class + Video

Yoga was brought to the West by the Indian gurus in the late 19th and early 20th century, where it was eagerly embraced for its health, emotional and spiritual benefits.

There are many different styles of yoga, some more physical than others. The most well known types include Hatha, Ashtanga, Kundalini, Raja and Tantric yoga. People usually choose one depending on their needs, physical abilities and preferences.

Meditation And Yoga Can ‘Reverse’ Stress-Inducing DNA Damage

According to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as yoga and mediation can actually “reverse” the reactions in our DNA that cause poor health, stress and depression.

The researchers reviewed more than a decade of studies and looked at how mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as yoga affects the behavior of our genes.

They concluded that mind-body interventions can cause molecular changes in our body. These changes can affect our mental and physical health.

When we are exposed to a stressful event, our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is triggered and it increases the production of a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB). This molecule regulates how our genes are expressed.

NF-kB activates genes that release proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation at cellular level. This is useful as a short-lived fight-or-flight reaction, but persistent reaction leads to a higher risk of cancer, accelerated aging and psychiatric disorders like depression.

However, according to review of studies, people who engage in “Mind-body Interventions” (MBIs) like yoga and meditation, show a remarkable decrease in the production of both Nf-kB and inflammatory responses.

Lead investigator Ivana Buric from the Brain, Belief and Behaviour Lab in Coventry University’s Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement said:

“Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don’t realize is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business”.

“These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.”

“More needs to be done to understand these effects in greater depth, for example how they compare with other healthy interventions like exercise or nutrition. But this is an important foundation to build on to help future researchers explore the benefits of increasingly popular mind-body activities.”

Simple Yoga Class to Help ‘Reverse’ Stress-Inducing DNA Damage

Below you can find a 20 minutes yoga class for complete beginners. You can also read my article about 10 yoga poses to make you feel fantastic in 15 minutes (including illustrations).

At the end of the article you will find additional videos of yoga exercises and stretches that are helpful to treat back pain and sciatica.

What happens to your body when you do yoga

We have two types of autonomic nervous system: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

The first is responsible for the fight or flight reaction, while the latter deals with the rest and digest setting of the body. In other words, the SNS concerns stress, while the PNS is all about relaxation.

In these busy, competitive, demanding and alienating times, the SNS is the one working overtime, while the PNS doesn’t get activated as often as it should, if we are to have a balanced body and mind.

When you do yoga, the PNS gets woken up, which results in the blissful feelings of relaxation. Physiologically speaking, the PNS lowers blood pressure, slows the heart rate and redirects blood toward the digestive system. Basically, it takes care of those parts of the body which are neglected when the SNS is in charge.

Some yoga practices activate the PNS directly, as is the case with the more gentle postures and deep diaphragmatic breathing (also known as pranayama). More energetic styles and physically demanding postures might initially stimulate the SNS, but if the practice finishes off with a meditation, they eventually bring a deep state of relaxation.

Yoga has been used to:

Yoga has also been used with cancer patients and people suffering from schizophrenia, mostly to help with symptom control and improve their quality of life.

To start, you will need some discipline and inspiration, but it is a very rewarding practice, so have a go!

The Best Yoga Stretches To Soothe Your Back Pain

Back pain as well as sciatic pain are common problems that affect most people at some point in their life. There are many reasons for back pain but the good news is that the ancient practice of yoga can be extremely beneficial for relieving back pain.

I’ve already written an article on how to use yoga to ease sciatic nerve pain (the post also includes a video) and this time I am going to explain to you how to ease your back pain with yoga. At bottom of the article you will find a great video with a demonstration of yoga stretches for back pain.

The Main Reasons For Back Pain

Back pain may be triggered by:

  • Bad posture while sitting or standing
  • Bending awkwardly
  • Lifting incorrectly

In most cases, back pain will improve in a few weeks or months, although some people experience long-term pain or pain that keeps coming back.

Yoga And Back Pain

A lot of studies have shown the power of the ancient practice of yoga, which emphasizes stretching, strength, and flexibility, to relieve back pain as well as sciatic nerve pain.

In fact, several studies have found that yoga can be more beneficial for back pain when it comes to improving back function.

People who practice yoga or doing specific back stretches are twice as likely to cut back on pain medications for their back aches as people who managed symptoms on their own, according to a study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

US researchers studying people with chronic lower back problems found that those who practiced yoga were better at overcoming pain and depression than those who followed conventional treatments for lower back pain. The study was funded by the US National Institutes of Health and was conducted by Dr. Kimberly Williams, research assistant professor in the Department of Community Medicine at West Virginia University in Morgantown and has been published in the online journal Spine.

The three-year study showed that the group that did yoga had lifted mood, less pain and improved function compared to the control group that received standard medical therapy.

Yoga and Sciatic pain

Sciatica describes leg pain, numbness or weakness that starts at the low back and travels down the sciatic nerve in the leg causing sciatica pain. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body which begins in the lower back and runs through the buttock and down the lower limb.

In 2005, the Journal of Neurosurgery estimated that more than 5% of the adult population in the United States suffers from sciatica, and over a lifetime, an individual has a 40% probability of experiencing it but the good news is that targeted yoga practice can help you to overcome the pain.

As certain yoga poses helps to align, lengthen, and strengthen your lower back, they can also help to ease sciatic pain.

You can read more about sciatic pain and about natural treatments for sciatica in my articles:

Common Causes of Sciatica

Sciatic pain (sciatica) is caused by a compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. Common causes of sciatica include:

  • Spinal disc herniation
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Narrowing of the spinal column (spinal stenosis).

Another common cause of sciatica is as a result of nerve entrapment in which a muscle in the buttock is pressing against the sciatic nerve and causing sciatica.

How to Figure Out if you Have Sciatica

To figure out if you have sciatica consider the following:

Pain or discomfort anywhere along the sciatic nerve pathway: in the lower back, buttock, back of the thigh, and/or calf.

Numbness: Loss of feeling. You can test for this yourself with the edge of a matchbook or tooth stick, comparing areas of skin on one leg with the same that are on the other leg.

Paresthesia: strange sensations including tingling, pins and needles burning and “pinching”.

Weakness: unusual lack of strength that may cause your knees to buckle when you are standing up or may make it difficult to rise from a sitting position.

Reduced reflexes in your Achilles tendon and knee.

Foot drop: a condition in which you are not able to flex your ankles enough to walk on your heels.

The usual places to feel sciatica are in the back of the thigh, down the back of the leg, on the outside of the calf, on the side of the foot, and in the heel.

Sciatica is therefore the symptom and not the cause of the pain or other discomfort, and often needs the attention of a medical professionals.

Things To Consider

A word of caution: if you have severe sciatica, discuss yoga with your doctor before starting it. Although yoga can be very helpful for low back pain and sciatica, it may also injure your back while doing it, so you need to be cautious.

However those with occasional soreness or chronic aches may benefit from certain postures that can help lengthen their spine, stretch and strengthen their muscles, and return their back to its proper alignment.

It’s always a good idea consult with your doctor before starting a new fitness regimen, especially if you’re prone to pain. Once you get the doctor’s approval, try these soothing poses and stretches for back pain.

Here is a great a video about stretches for back pain relief which can also serve as an introduction to yoga for beginners.

Find below additional two videos of yoga as well as stretches for sciatic pain:

1 Minute Sciatica Exercises

Yoga for Sciatic Pain

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Article Sources

Healthy and Natural World