Telomeres? First, I’m sure you’re wondering what a Telomere is and why and where you have them. Secondly, what on earth do they have to do with Yoga?
If you’ve not read the book, The Telomere Effect, I strongly suggest you do so. The two authors, Elizabeth Blackburn PhD (Nobel Prize Winner) and Elissa Epel PhD have collaborated to write a book that I personally think changes the way we look at the aging process. During our life time we have a ‘healthspan’ and a ‘diseasespan’ and I think we can all agree we’d like to lengthen the healthspan portion of our lives. Dying is inevitable, but now we can choose to have more good years instead of years of chronic pain and possible disease as we age.
Telomeres are at the tips of every single DNA chormosome in the body. As we age the Telomeres shorten, thus exposing the DNA to baddies like free radicals. Think of them as the little plastic nibs at the end of your shoelaces. As soon as the plastic wears off, the cotton shoelaces start to fray and eventually you will not be able to tie them.
Here’s the good news; by protecting and lengthening our Telomeres we can slow down the ‘fraying’ of our chormosomes and ultimately slow down the ageing process. The book shares loads of information on how diet, exercise, stress levels and sleep patterns can all effect the Telomeres. It’s our job to make sure that we are kind to our bodies in order to keep the Telomeres long, instead of engaging in behaviour that shortens the Telomeres such as eating refined and processed foods, not exercising and having one too many drinks in the evening. It’s amazing to think that we can control and considerably lower the risk of chronic illness, osteoporosis, diabetes, stroke and dementia as well as mental conditions such as depression and PTSD.
Enter Yoga: In Blackburn and Epel’s book they have shown there is scientific evidence that Yoga and meditation will lengthen your Telomeres by slowing the impact of stress at the DNA level. A study published in the journal, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, proved that 12 weeks of a Yoga regimen reduces cellular aging and the measure of inflammation in the body. What does that mean, you ask? Longer Telomeres! Therefore, you’ve got protected DNA that’s going to last you longer. Everything wears out be it human-made materials such as tires, and that washing machine that’s starting to make funny noises, as well as our own parts such as tendons, ligaments and organs. Lengthen the warranty on your body by practising Yoga and lengthening your Telomeres.
Please contact me if you would like a Yoga plan to help keep the aging process at bay.