Yoga and meditation can affect how your genes are expressed. Together with other relaxing exercises, these activities seem to reverse some of the stress-related changes in the genes. Especially the genes linked to overall poor health and depression seem to be positively affected by these activities.

According to a new scientific review, different mind-body exercises can actually affect how your genes are expressed. In the study, British researchers focused on the biological effects of different mind-body exercises such as yoga (poses), meditation, breathing exercises, qigong and tai chi. The study is a review of 18 earlier published studies, altogether including 846 people.

According to this study the activities appear to suppress the expression of the genes that promote inflammation. Studies have shown that chronic inflammation is linked to many common diseases today – both physical and mental ones.

During the last years, more and more studies have shown that both the environment and lifestyle can affect if genes are active or inactive. This research field is is called epigenetics. According to epigenetic research you are not “doomed” to get a disease even if you have ‘the gene(s)’ for developing it. During the last years, many studies have shown that the environment and your lifestyle choices seem to be of the greatest importance if you develop a disease or not – even if you have the gene(s). This is because both the environment and the lifestyle affect if the genes are activated or not.

Even just 15 minutes of practicing mind-body exercises seem to affect the gene expression positively according to the new study.

Buric, I., Farias M., Jong J., Mee, C. Brazil I. (2017) What Is the Molecular Signature of Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices. Frontiers in Immunology, 16 June 2017,