Integrative medicine (IM) approaches have gained significant interest in recent years to provide a solution for the health care challenges we face today. Yogic cognitive-behavioral practices are among the most widely used IM approaches and include diverse practices such as yoga asanas, meditation, breathing exercises, Qi Gong, Tai Chi Chih, and various others. Studies to date suggest that these yogic/meditative practices have significant positive effects on the mind-body system and thereby can increase wellness and support the healing process from disease. Previous work has provided evidence for both psychological and physiological effects of these practices; however, the mechanisms of these effects, especially at the molecular level, have largely been missing. Three recent studies started to provide some of this information through gene expression profiling in circulating immune cells, which support the hypothesis that yogic/meditative practices have a measurable effect at the molecular level. These studies are reviewed herein and some future perspectives are considered.
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