Yoga can be a powerful aid in the fight against stress. But make no mistake, if your life is busy and you are not resolving daily stressors, your adrenal glands are under threat. Stressful situations often start to become the norm in life, so much so that we don’t even realize it. So it’s important to take this seriously. Start healing those adrenal glands with these gentle yoga postures.
The Adrenal Glands
As part of the endocrine system, the hormones released serve to regulate your metabolism, to burn fat and proteins, and to control blood pressure. They communicate with the major organs in your body but also play an important role in the health of the brain, kidneys, and reproductive system. Located at the top of each kidney, there are two parts to the adrenal glands. The adrenal cortex secretes cortisol (the stress response) as well as other hormones. The adrenal medulla secretes both norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and epinephrine (adrenaline).
Two of the most important hormones are aldosterone and cortisol, and in addition to stress, health issues can occur where there is too little or too much of any one hormone. Where insufficient levels of cortisol occur, you may find muscle weakness, a loss of appetite, and intense fatigue and nauseous. Diarrhea could occur too. It is important to seek medical advice when adrenal fatigue is suspected.
If too much aldosterone is released, blood pressure can rise. This is dangerous because it could lead towards a heart attack, heart failure, or stroke. In addition, when your blood pressure rises, your muscles tense and your heart starts to pound. It is the adrenal glands and the hormones released that are responsible. When your stress response- the fight or flight response, these are invaluable, and because your body is primed for action, it could save your life. However, in other situations and if ongoing, these situations can damage your health.
The Perils of Stress
When stress is short-term, there is very little damage done. We all experience stressful situations, think about that high-level job interview where you have to function at your best or if facing an exam. Equally, short-term stresses such as financial issues that will be resolved quickly or temporary family issues will still cause the stress response but providing the situation is resolved, there will be no long-term damage. In short bursts, you often react with more energy and greater clarity, but the danger occurs when stress is chronic and unyielding.
There are many symptoms associated with stress including:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Panic Attacks etc.
With adrenal fatigue, symptoms include:
- Thyroid problems
- Weight gain
- Reduced sex drive
- Intense fatigue
Healing the Adrenal Glands
Your adrenal glands are the victim when you have too much stress. One way to help them is to resolve any anxieties and stressors that are plaguing your life and this way. There are fewer pressures being placed upon these important glands. There are things that can be done to help, including meditating daily and improving growth hormones. This is secreted by another gland in the endocrine system– the pituitary gland and takes place during the deepest levels of sleep. Sadly, because stress can often seem worse at night, sleep patterns may also be badly affected. Therefore, it is beneficial to improve your sleep pattern as this may your ailing adrenals.
Yoga is known to have a positive effect on feelings of anxiety. It may be due to the increased levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) as this has certainly been shown to have a calming effect and it has been noted in those who practice yoga regularly. But yoga helps much more than this, as it instills a sense of peace, improves clarity of mind, and helps to release muscular tension, also reducing cortisol levels.
This is so important to help the mind and body relax. It is very important to take an intuitive and holistic approach to health. Resting when possible is beneficial and practicing restorative yoga can help your body start to heal. It is wise to avoid strenuous yoga poses during the recovery stages. Think nurturing and being kind to yourself. Your mind and body both need this.
Yoga Poses That Heal the Adrenal Glands
Supported Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
This is an adapted forward bend that releases any tension stored in the muscles of the neck and back. Sit in the easy pose and then lean forward and rest your forehead and arms onto a chair. Pad the seat for extra comfort. That’s all there is to it. Hold the pose for as long as comfortable and rest.
Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Support this bridge pose using bolsters or pillows so that it opens the chest, but the spine will be supported. This is a good posture for opening the lungs, but it also calms the body and reduces brain waves while lowering heart rate.
Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Position yourself near to a wall and lie down. With your back firmly placed on the floor (not arched), raise both legs vertically against the wall. Rest in this position. This is calming but also slows down brainwaves.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose stimulates the endocrine system. It also helps to strengthen the immune system. This is important. When comfortable in the position, it lengthens the spine and reduces stress in the muscles of the back and neck. Avoid this posture where a neck, spine, or knee injury exists. Finish the session with the Corpse Pose (Savasana) and completely relax the mind and body.
It is important to incorporate stress management techniques into your life when stress is prevalent. It will not simply go away even if you believe you are coping with stress. Don’t leave it too late. The adrenal glands can suddenly become depleted and many other serious health issues can occur. If your adrenal glands are screaming under the weight of stress, then, stop, listen, and act.