The Loh Down On Science

Discovering why yoga is good for us at a cellular level

To fight infections, is the best medicine . . . yoga?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Meet researchers at the University of Oslo, in Norway.  They've determined that yoga actually changes gene expression in immune cells.  Which is a fancy way of saying yoga turns some genes on and some off.  We’ve known for a while that yoga is good for immunity; now we have a better idea of how that works.

Over four days, the researchers had ten men either do yoga or take nature walks while listening to music.  The men's blood was drawn for genetic analysis before and after each activity.

And?  In all, yoga affected 111 genes, which is a pretty big chunk, and the changes happened fast—within two hours.  One of the genes? Boosts natural killer cells.  These are part of the immune system’s first defense against bacteria and viruses.

By comparison, the subjects who walked in nature had only 38 gene changes.

In short, yoga killed the competition!  But in a nice way. Om....

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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