Everyday demands for your time, a lack of sleep and your monthly cycle can all cause hormonal imbalances, leaving you feeling tired, overly emotional or anxious. Yoga can help you regain control of your energy and mood. The dynamic postures of yoga stimulate and regulate the glands responsible for hormone secretions in your body, especially those that manage energy, metabolism and stress.
As Sydney-based yoga teacher Marcus Julian Felicetti writes in "Elephant Journal," inversions regulate hormone secretions of both the thyroid and parathyroid glands in the neck. Since imbalances of these hormones can cause depression and fatigue, Felicetti recommends Shoulder Stand as the best posture to increase your energy and boost your metabolism. To do this pose, lie on your back and raise your legs to 90 degrees. Press into your elbows and raise your hips upward, supporting your back with your palms. Breathe deeply in the pose for at least 60 seconds. To come out, release your back and slowly lower your legs to the mat. If your neck feels uncomfortable in this pose, fold a blanket and place it underneath you with the edge of the blanket in line with the top of your shoulders.
Reclining Twist Pose
Restorative yoga expert Judith Hanson Lasater recommends yoga for stress relief. When you're stressed, your adrenal glands produce the hormone epinephrine, or adrenaline. An abundance of this hormone -- beneficial when you need to be alert and active -- can lead to high blood pressure, anxiety and headaches. In "Yoga Journal," Lasater cites Reclining Twist pose as one of the best ways to engage your body's natural relaxation response, which regulates your adrenal glands. Pair this posture with deep abdominal breathing to further encourage relaxation. Sit on the floor with your right hip close to a bolster or rolled blanket. Point your knees to the left so the outside of your right leg rests on the floor. Turn to the right and place your hands on either side of the bolster. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your torso onto the bolster or blanket. Stay in this position for a minute and a half before switching sides.
"Yoga Journal" recommends Kundalini yoga for balancing your hormones. Specifically, this practice purges the negative chemicals that can cause postpartum depression and the mood swings associated with menstruation. This style of yoga uses breathing and repetition of sound to create harmony in the body and mind. Many yoga studios offer Kundalini yoga classes suitable for all levels. The best Kundalini technique to try at home involves sitting in Easy Pose, or cross-legged position. In this posture, gently press your thumbs and index fingers together, followed by your thumbs and middle fingers, thumbs and ring fingers, and thumbs and pinkies in succession. Repeat the mantra "sa ta na ma," saying each syllable for each movement of the fingers.
Precautions for Pregnancy
Mommies-to-be can expect to experience hormone surges in all three trimesters. Yoga can be beneficial for balancing hormones, with a few modifications to keep you comfy and safe. For an inversion, try Legs-up-the-Wall pose instead of Shoulder Stand. Sit at the base of a wall and swing your legs up to 90 degrees as you lie down. Place a stack of pillows or a bolster underneath you to lift your head above your heart and pelvis. This is the best inversion for expecting mothers because it avoids putting pressure on the joints, which can be more sensitive and prone to injury during pregnancy. Restorative and Kundalini yoga are not contraindicated for pregnancy, but always consult a doctor before beginning any new exercise program such as yoga.
- Elephant Journal: 10 Reasons to do a Shoulderstand Every Day
- Harvard Medical School: Understanding the Stress Response
- Yoga Journal: Yoga for Stress and Burnout
- Harvard Medical School: What Causes Depression?
- Yoga Journal: Metabolic Makeover
- Yoga Journal: Balancing the Brain: Easing Stress and Postpartum Depression through Yoga
- Yoga Journal: Yoga for Moms-to-Be
Based in Calgary, Canada, Julia Marshall has been writing professionally since 2007. Her work has appeared on websites in the financial, technology, fitness and retail industries. Marshall holds a Master of Arts in communications and technology from the University of Alberta and is a registered yoga teacher with the Canadian Yoga Alliance.