Return to the root and you will find the meaning

Freedom of Expression

 

We’re going to make a very bold statement. Are you ready? Here it goes:

Yoga practices could influence genetic expression. In other words, yoga techniques could control the behavior of your genes, creating greater freedom, and experiential life richness.We’d better get right down to backing that statement up with some scientific evidence, right? To do that, we have to begin with the definition of “epigenetics.”

What is epigenetics?

As you know, our genome (DNA structures and patterns) are present from birth. Generally, it remains “as is” until we die. This genome is responsible for most of who we are physically, and to some degree, mentally and emotionally as well. In other words, our DNA genes have preset programs, which are expressly followed or become silenced.

Researchers are finding that many factors can influence our preset genetic programs’ running or operation. Things are a lot more flexible than was initially thought. In other words, the preset genetic programs are like the “theory” — what is supposedto happen. What actually happens is due to a variety of factors.

Flexibility of preset genetic programs

An individual’s preset genetic program can only be carried out under the right conditions. Changing these conditions can affect whether or not the preset program is carried out, even at all — and if it is, how much of the program is active. Here’s another way to think about it: changing the conditions can cause genetic program “switches” to be turned On or Off and “dials” to be dialed up (increased) or dialed down (decreased). All these differences in how our preset genetic programs perform; are called “epigenetic changes.”

What causes epigenetic changes?

The human body is an electro-chemical system. So, anything that changes this chemical balance can influence genetic programs. For example, cancerous cells are occurring naturally in our bodies all the time. However, not all of them reproduce. Our immune system destroys the majority of them.

The reason is that our cells have a built-in “tumor suppressor,” which stops damaging cells from duplicating. If that suppressor gets switched off, the contained cancerous cell becomes free to divideand conquer.

Many lifestyle factors can cause genetic “switches and dials” to be turned on and off, dialed up or dialed down. Data showsthat diet, physical activity level, alcohol and tobacco intake, excess weight, environmental pollution, stress, and even working the night shift can cause epigenetic changes.

Did you notice that we are speaking about everyday patterns and not some high-level medical procedures? In other words, simple choicesabout how we live may alter our preset genetic program’s functioning.

Where does Yoga fit in?

A part of Yoga’s philosophy is the Eight Limbs — Basically, eight rungs of a ladder bridging spaces of greater self-awareness and optimal fulfillment in life. The second limb is a group of five reflective considerations towards ourselves(the first limb being a group of five considerations practiced towards others). The first of these meditative practices towards the self is “Saucha.”

Saucha: A matter of choice

Saucha can be defined as cleanliness or purity. Part of saucha is how we care for our bodies’ physical, mental, and emotional health.

Here are some day-to-day choices which could keep your genetic programs functioning in optimal ways:

  • Including bioactive foods — could trigger positive epigenetic changes throughout life and highly beneficial to impart as young as possible.
  • Keeping your body free from harmful substances as much as possible.
  • Making sufficient time for restoration, including play, creativity, and sleep.
  • Working at a job you are passionate about and sparks joy.
  • Having relationships that empower and support inner happiness.

Choosing to create practices that foster clean living in both body and spirit keeps our inner electro-chemical conditions optimally balanced, enabling positive epigenetic changes and, thus, the most complete and best genetic expression.

A regular yoga practice helps cleanse the body of impurities, improve physical strength and flexibility, and fortify the spirit.

Tapas: The focus to succeed

The third of the reflections towards the self is called “tapas.” At its simplest level, tapas can be defined as energy and heat. At a more symbolic level, we can think of it as the force of determination — when we are strongly inspired to do something, the obstacles encountered along the path lend more significant meaning to our lives and strengthen drive and purpose.

Practicing Yoga strengthens our tapas. We learn to control our senses so that we can concentrate our focus like a laser beam. And like a laser beam, our focus becomes fearfully strong and burning hot.

When our tapas is powerfully fueled, we will be able to consistently maintain positive decision-making choices, even in positions of heightened adversity.

A yoga practice can enhance clarity and direction while strengthening drive and resolve throughout — living inspired.

Like anything, developing the ability to make better choices and the motivation to see them through takes time. It could be years, in fact, depending on where you start. Nevertheless, the very moment you decide to change, you are already on the journey to positive epigenetic changes that will help you live a more healthful and joyful life.

Embracing Your Health & Wellbeing — Time After Time.