Wellbeing Weekend: Yoga & hormones
Stress management is key factor that needs to be addressed when tackling hormonal imbalances of any sort.
Our stress response can occur within seconds of encountering a stressful situation.
When this happens, our hypothalamus secretes corticotropin releasing hormone. This then tells the anterior pituitary to produce adrenocorticotropic hormone which then gives the adrenals a little nudge to produce cortisol.
Cortisol and melotonin play a crucial role in regulating your sleep and the quality of sleep. At night cortisol is lower and melatonin peaks, as the morning comes the cortisol should spike and awaken you to feel fresh to take on the day.
With chronic stress this becomes all out of whack with cortisol rising in the evening keeping you awake. Imbalances of these hormones can impact the thyroid, ovaries, immune system , metabolism and cardiovascular health.
Gentle Yin yoga that emphasizes stillness can calm and harmonise your Hypothalamus- Pituiary and Adrenal Axis.
Simply focusing on breathing in yoga has also shown to stimulate the endocrine system and relieve stress. Studies have shown that a regular yoga and meditation practice has been associated with a decrease in anxiety and depression and increased mindfulness.
Thirthalli, J., Naveen, G. H., Rao, M. G., Varambally, S., Christopher, R., & Gangadhar, B. N. (2013). Cortisol and antidepressant effects of yoga. Indian journal of psychiatry, 55(Suppl 3), S405–S408. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5545.116315
García-Sesnich, J. N., Flores, M. G., Ríos, M. H., & Aravena, J. G. (2017). Longitudinal and Immediate Effect of Kundalini Yoga on Salivary Levels of Cortisol and Activity of Alpha-Amylase and Its Effect on Perceived Stress. International journal of yoga, 10(2), 73–80. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_45_16