Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Meditation, Yoga, and Tai Chi….

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 12-3-2012 

There are several causes of aging and disease.  New evidence suggests that one of the biggest and most important is something called telomere length

Telomeres are like the end caps of shoe laces except that telomeres protect the ends of your strands of DNA.  If they are long, your new cells are faithful and fully functional copies of the original DNA and your new cells are as good as they were when you were a young person.

But if your average telomere length is short, some of your telomeres apparently become virtually gone and your new cells are NOT fully and accurate functional any more. They begin to have copying errors.

Those new cells begin to not work right or make even worse copies or not keep making copies at all.

This produces lack of function or diminished function or even worse you get cancer from dangerous DNA changes.

In fact, people who have short telomeres DO test as having more heart attacks, strokes, and cancers.

Can this process of telomere shrinkage be reversed or prevented?

To a surprising degree it can!

1.  A study at Stanford and others have found that regular vigorous exercise several to most days every week enables the people who do it to live longer and have far fewer of these diseases.  There is even other evidence that the cells in their muscles remain in their youthful state and even can revert to it!

So that kind of exercise does seem to lengthen telomeres and keep them from shortening.

2.  In fact, there is actually a biochemical messenger called telomerase that directly causes your telomeres to get longer!

Regular, vigorous exercise either boosts it or had the identical effect in other ways.

Wouldn't it be nice though if you could just increase how much telomerase your body has?

It can be done!  There is a very expensive supplement derived from the Chinese herb astragalus that turns up telomerase directly.

People who take it have much improved and younger acting immune systems and have more energy and often find their exercise performance increases.

But again, if you don’t have an extra $800 a month or want a more natural and possibly safer way to boost telomerase that you can just go do, that would be really desirable.

There IS one.  Meditation, Qi Gong, Yoga, and Tai Chi all have it in common.

It involves allowing your brain to rest while you are still awake and combined with very strong and slow breathing.

Meditation is the least time efficient and for a full effect you need a good bit of skill and experience.  Plus it burns almost as little calories as watching TV.

Meditation DOES work and for some people it works well.  I just found out yesterday from Al Sears that 12 minute daily sessions of meditation has been tested to boost telomerase by 43% in just 8 weeks in one study.

But for reducing high blood pressure from stress relief, this level of meditation just lowered it by 4 to 7 points.  Although that is a significant reduction, Yoga done with the traditional very deep and controlled breathing and moving from pose to pose for 12 minutes or similar breathing and tai chi for that length of time produce more than double that reduction and come in at 10 to 17 points lower blood pressure AND burn 100 calories too!

I’ve not seen the telomerase increase numbers for that kind of Tai Chi and Yoga.  But to get more than twice the blood pressure lowering effect and by adding the exercise component, I suspect they boost telomerase from 60 to 100 % instead of 43%.

I’ve long been unhappy that there are no really good ways to learn Tai Chi that don’t require you to go to a class or get individualized instruction from an expert that I can refer people to.

And, I’ve long feared to get into ANY Yoga for fear of doing myself an injury with some of the extreme stretches in some forms of Yoga.

But there is a new Yoga resource that is almost that good!

The focus on its teaching is no matter what pose you do to do continuous power breathing slowly throughout the session. And, although some poses might be a bit strenuous for some either to do without building up to them or too soon after a strength training session that uses the same muscles, most of the poses are doable pretty well by almost anyone at any time.  AND, none of them done gently and slowly overdo stretching!

It’s in a book now available on Amazon:  “The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast!”  by Josh Kaufman.

He uses Yoga as a physical example of how mastering the basics of a subject can build you the essential first step from knowing nothing at all to enough competence to enable you to learn more.

It would be dramatically better with pictures or a video instead of stick figures and word explanations.

But he makes it easy to custom tailor a safe and doable set of the basic poses you can do while flowing continuously from one to another while doing the slow, power breathing.

For many, his book will do the job as is!  

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