In the past year I have become pretty fascinated (yes FASCINATED) with hormones. My own experience with hormonal imbalance, PCOS, irregular menstrual cycles, anxiety, and fatigue led me on an expedition to discover more. More about my own body, about growth hormones, about estrogen, about progesterone and how it all works.
The endocrine system is a system within our body (both male & female) that is made up of a collection of hormone producing glands. These glands are essential to almost every function in the body. These functions range from energy levels, to growth hormones, puberty development, sexual function and metabolism. The wide range of functions that the endocrine system is responsible for also means that when you are struggling with hormonal imbalance it could surface in a number of ways. This can look like headaches, skin problems, fatigue, anxiety, sleep issues, irregular or absent periods, depression, weight gain and mood, just to list a few.
Yoga is one way we can approach our hormones and work with our body holistically to help symptoms and maintain hormonal health. These 3 postures below have been shown to stimulate the endocrine system (hormone producing glands) and help to maintain their highest function. These poses help in consistent production and distribution of hormones throughout the body. Incorporating pranayama (breath work) into your asana practice is also a wonderful way to stimulate the endocrine system, ensuring it is working properly.
USTRASANA (Camels Pose)
Camels pose, traditionally done on your knees (with or without a blanket to protect those lil” knees) sends blood to the adrenal gland. The adrenal glands are located on top of each kidney. The adrenal glands produce hormones like cortisol (fight or flight) and aldosterone (helps control blood pressure). Camel pose also stimulates the thyroids which is located at the lower and front portion of your neck.
Why do we want to stimulate our thyroid? Well, this little heart shaped gland located in your neck is responsible for producing hormones that regulate metabolic rate, heart and digestive function.
BHUJANGASANA (Cobra Pose)
We have ourselves another adrenal gland stimulater! Cobra pose is wonderful to “massage” the adrenal gland. Doing so can help maintain the function of the adrenal gland and combat stress in and throughout the body.
Back of the neck stays long as you slowly inhale your chest and shoulders off the earth. Use the strength from the back side of your body here, while continuing to draw elbows in. Spread fingers wide and BREATHE my friends!
SASANGASANA (Rabbit Pose)
Maybe one that you are not as familiar with, rabbit pose. This pose, with the top on your head on the mat, grabbing the backs of your heels is calming on the nervous system and brings blood flow to the brain. This pose also regulates the hypothalamus which links the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland.
This pose is said to be wonderful for low mood, depression and any sinus or cold issues. This time of year as we are heading into darker days, a colder and wet climate, think about incorporating this into your asana practice.