Yoga for Adrenal Fatigue

Yoga for Adrenal Fatigue

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Is it hard to wake up without stimulants?

Are you craving sugar, salt, and experiencing severe PMS? Do you feel exhausted for no reason, easily overwhelmed, or rundown?  If so, you may be suffering from HPA Axis Dysfunction, AKA “adrenal fatigue.”

The adrenals are walnut-sized glands that sit just above your kidneys and secrete the essential hormones cortisol and aldosterone. The hormone cortisol is involved in regulating your metabolism, controlling blood sugar, and is an anti-inflammatory.  Aldosterone regulates the salt/water balance in your body. In addition to secreting these essential hormones, your adrenals secrete adrenaline and noradrenaline in response to stress.

What is the HPA Axis?

The hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis is our central stress response system.   The HPA Axis is where your central nervous system and hormonal system converge to generate a flood of chemicals and signals in response to stress, resulting in the release of stress hormones that circulate throughout your bloodstream.  In prehistoric times, this reaction was an advantage.  When a predator was chasing you, the stress response would be triggered in your brain’s hypothalamus, sending your nervous system into high gear so you could fight or flee from danger. The HPA Axis is a self-preservation mechanism to ensure your survival.

In today’s world, stress often comes from your internal reactions to external events you usually have no control over, such as being stuck in traffic. The problem is that your body can’t tell the difference between being stuck in traffic and being chased by a wild animal, so it still responds as if there were an actual threat to your survival.

If you endure chronic stress, you may be experiencing an imbalance of the HPA Axis and nervous system. Chronic stress wreaks havoc with your adrenals and can lead to the body’s breakdown over time. Even worse, HPA Axis Dysfunction can lead to extreme fatigue, making it easy to reach for stimulants loaded with sugar to get through your day. Sugary foods increase your blood sugar, further stressing your system. This cycle repeats itself, and over time, it can lead to more health concerns. HPA Axis dysfunction can lead to weight gain, so to counteract this, you push yourself through intense workouts to lose weight. Instead of losing weight, intense exercise can make problems worse and may lead to debilitating fatigue.

Although it might sound counter-intuitive, try a more relaxed approach. Yoga relieves stress, reduces cortisol and can help you lose unwanted pounds.  So, instead of reaching for a coffee, a sugary donut, or spending hours at the gym, consider practicing yoga. Unlike a short-lived high that comes from scarfing down a sweet treat, yoga can both relax and energize you.

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How yoga can help?

Yoga helps “reset” the nervous system, calm the stress response, and give your adrenals a much-needed break. Practicing a gentle form of yoga focusing on slow, flowing postures, intentional breathing, body awareness, and meditation shift your body from “fight or “flight” mode to the “rest and digest” mode.  It strengthens both your body and mind.  If you’re suffering from HPA Axis dysfunction, this kind of gentle and mindful exercise is essential on your road to health.

As a yoga instructor who has suffered from the effects of chronic stress, I can say without a doubt that yoga can change your life. As you commit to a regular practice, your level of stress will decrease and your physical health will improve.

Stephenie Farrell

Written by Stephenie Farrell

Stephenie Farrell is a Body-Positivity Coach and EFT Practitioner who specializes in mindfulness, energy-medicine, and movement. She offers corporate and private yoga both online and in person. You can connect with her at @clarity_power_results

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