PLoS One, an interactive open-access journal, published a study conducted by Jeffery A. Dusek and colleagues from the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. The study found the relaxation response (RR) achieved through mind-body practices—such as yoga, meditation, repetitive prayer, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback, guided imagery, and Qi Gong—prevents illness, treats disease, and counters oxidative stress.
Because chronic psychosocial stress is associated with accelerated aging at the cellular level, the study looked at how RR changed a person’s genes. The study involved 19 healthy individuals who were long-term practitioners of daily RR, 19 healthy individuals, and 20 individuals who completed eight weeks RR training. Training include “diaphragmatic breathing, body scan, as well as mantra and mindfulness meditation, while subjects passively ignored intrusive thoughts.”
In the end, the study found RR “is characterized by decreased oxygen consumption, increased exhaled nitric oxide, and reduced psychological distress.” Researchers claimed there was “compelling evidence that the RR elicits specific gene expression changes in short-term and long-term practitioners…[which] suggest[s] … RR may relate to long term physiological effects.” Moreover, they study found that RR can ameliorate numerous stress-related disorders, such as cardiovascular, autoimmunes, and inflammatory conditions.
If you want to achieve RR through mind-body practices: