Hormones work together as messengers in your body: They tell your physiological systems when to jump and how high. They direct your emotions, tell you when you need rest and sustain you mentally. So it makes sense that hormonal imbalances are felt and seen.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance include:
- skin problems, including dry skin and acne
- joint pains
- hair loss
- low sex drive
- mood problems
- weight gain
- accelerated aging
Many men and women are resorting to pills and surgeries to alleviate these symptoms. So how can something as simple as sitting in, say, rabbit pose be a viable alternative?
Yoga poses pressurize and depressurize specific glands. These subtle compressions and decompressions can regulate secretions.
There’s the secret: Yoga poses stimulate and balance endocrine function.
Here are 25 reasons to do yoga to improve your hormonal health:
1. Regulate your hormones. Hormone imbalances affect how you look, sleep and feel. Yoga’s focus on breathing, meditation and poses has a positive effect on the endocrine system and helps balance hormones when they’re off kilter.
2. Balance your body. The brain, nervous system and endocrine system all work together to move your body: The brain commands the action, the nervous system carries the message and the endocrine system is responsible for long-term body maintenance using glands and hormones. Yoga keeps the systems fluid and balanced.
3. Power your master gland. Certain yoga poses stimulate the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland, the “master gland,” produces hormones that power other endocrine glands. This gland is responsible for growth hormones, which stimulate the thyroid gland and adrenal gland. But it also releases endorphins that soothe the nervous system and decrease feelings of pain.
4. Sleep better. The pineal gland excretes the melatonin hormone that regulates sleep patterns. Certain yoga poses stimulate the pineal gland.
5. Improve mood and relieve anxiety. Get your GABA on! Boston University School of Medicine researchers say yoga is a better anxiety reliever and mood lifter than other exercise after a study compared gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels of yoga practitioners and walkers. Depression and anxiety are linked to low GABA levels.
6. Mitigate menopause. With menopause comes fluctuating hormones, which can disrupt your sleep, pack pounds onto your belly, make you grumpy and kill your sex drive. But studies have shown that yoga can help. Yoga can ease the symptoms of menopause from hot flashes to night sweats – even memory loss.
7. Cut hot flashes. Yoga can decrease hot flashes by 31 percent, according to one study.
8. Boost your libido. Strike a pose! Yoga helps with flexibility, relaxation, toning, weight loss and hormone balance. But it also works your pelvic floor muscles along with the glutes, waist, thighs, abs and arms. Both the visible and beneath-the-skin parts of your body benefit.
9. Remember better. Yoga clears the cobwebs, particularly during PMS, perimenopause, menopause and andropause. These can be times when many women and men suddenly lose their train of thought or realize they cannot recognize their own thoughts. Yoga helps collect fragmented thoughts with its major benefit of improved mental alertness via improved blood flow and deep, focused breathing.
10. Cut cravings. Carbs stimulate the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. Yoga stimulates serotonin and stops the cravings before they start.
11. Fight fatigue. During perimenopause, women complain of fatigue second only to hot flashes. Plunging progesterone or depleted adrenal glands might be part of the problem. But everyone experiences fatigue. A trifecta of factors (eating healthful foods and staying hydrated; taking time to rest, recover and enjoy; and physical activity) work against fatigue, and all of them are covered by yoga.
12. Reduce and manage pain. Pain management involves detaching yourself from the psychological experience of pain. Yoga can reduce pain by stretching muscles and correcting posture. And yoga’s psychological benefits, specifically more mindfulness, has been shown to increase quality of life for chronic pain patients.
13. Remain relaxed. Yoga’s focus on breathing allows the diaphragm to wholly descend and pump full breaths throughout the body. This slow breathing practice activates the parasympathetic nervous system and balances the body, easing strain and promoting calmness.
14. Release stress’s controlling grip. We often cause our own stress, or allow it to take over. Yoga calms your mind long enough to release it from stress’s controlling grip.
15. Avoid heightened reactions to the environment. Stress, tension and anxiety activate the sympathetic nervous system. This increases the heartbeat, which pumps blood more quickly through the body. Then the body readies for the fight or flight response, which in turn uses adrenaline to heighten your muscle power. Yoga helps manage stress, tension and anxiety, thus reducing the adrenaline rush response to unnecessary triggers.
16. Combat anxiety. When lack of sleep, stress about money, feelings of instability and poor nutrition control your mind and rev up the sympathetic nervous system, you aren’t able to release tension. Eventually, you can hold your body in a constant state of strain and it becomes normal. Yoga promotes peace and detachment from these unnecessary stressors, alleviating controlling anxiety.
17. Zap insomnia. Insomnia can result from a variety of factors, from stress and anxiety to plummeting progesterone when the adrenal glands are exhausted and overtaxed. Yoga inversions help ground the body’s energy, burn off excess energy and wipe out insomnia.
18. Defeat depression. Depression is often blamed on hormonal imbalance. For example, estrogen dominance caused by a drastic drop in progesterone can be the culprit of many complaints, from panic attacks to severe clinical depression. Yoga regulates these hormonal imbalances.
19. Stop mood swings. Hormones are directly connected with mood stability. Bending forward and shutting out external distractions can soothe the mind and reduce the effects of stress, thereby combating irritability and mental tension.
20. Fight fibromyalgia. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced and released by the adrenal gland. Women with fibromyalgia have lower-than-average cortisol levels and secretion of the hormone is dysregulated. In a study by York University researchers, regular hatha yoga was shown to increase these women’s cortisol levels.
21. Free your face from aging wrinkles. The pituitary gland controls growth hormone, which can cause deepened facial wrinkles when imbalanced. Yoga aids the pituitary gland’s regular function.
22. Thwart thyroid symptoms. The thyroid controls your basal metabolic rate, growth and cell processes while the parathyroid controls calcium and phosphate in the blood. Imbalances in your thyroid can cause depression; cold hands and feet; weight problems and difficulty waking in the morning. Yoga helps regulate the thyroid.
23. Elevate estrogen. The ovaries are the main source of estrogen, the hormone that regulates menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breast feeding, and female physical appearance and sexuality. Estrogen imbalances can cause bone loss; wrinkles around the mouth, eyes and forehead; more facial hair; dry eyes; thinning scalp hair; depression surrounding your period; light sleep and waking unrefreshed. Yoga helps your body secrete the right amount of estrogen.
24. Lose weight. Yoga is exercise. It burns calories and gets your system in sync to burn fat faster. It also helps you gain a long and lean physique.
25. Grow taller. Poor posture makes you shorter. Yoga gets your bones back in alignment, improves posture and stretches your muscles, allowing you to gain a little bit of height.
When your hormones are balanced, your body says Namaste.
For more information on hormones, health, nutrition and fitness, contact an Ageology physician for an appointment today.