The Magic of Chemicals Inside You – Hormones
Hormones often make a major part of medical health discussions – we all have it, and they are important for us. But what exactly are hormones?
In simple terms, hormones are chemicals inside your body that act as messengers to the various organs. They regulate all your physiological activities, and are essential to maintain homeostasis – the natural, balanced and efficient functioning of all the systems in your body.
There are many types of hormones present in the body, each produced by a separate gland, such as the thyroid, pituitary, and pancreas, and all of them perform different function; for example, while pituitary hormone is a ‘master hormone’ responsible for overall growth, the thyroid hormone works particularly in metabolic functioning.
Hormonal Imbalance – A Body Out of Sync
When there is any problem in the hormonal functioning in the body – either due to over or underproduction of the hormones – it can disturb the natural balance of the body, and create a number of problems. For example, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) has been linked to improper levels of sex hormones in the female body. Hypothyroidism or the underproduction of the thyroid hormone is another common problem , which can lead to fatigue, weight gain, impared memory, and slowed metabolism.
Thus, a good hormonal balance is necessary to ensure that you keep living a healthy and active life.
Fortunately, hormonal imbalance is easily detected in medical diagnosis, and can be remedied through medication. Equally important however, are lifestyle changes, which can boost the balance of your body and correct the hormonal imbalance and maintain it. Here, yoga can play a vital role.
Yoga for the Hormones
In its very essence, yoga is all about connecting with your body, and finding peace, balance, and connectivity. A combination of strength and flexibility, yoga enables people at all levels of fitness to work out their whole body in a gentle yet effective way, and enhances both the mind and body. If you have been dealing with hormonal imbalance, here are a few asanas that can help you out –
- Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) – This pose helps in stimulating the adrenal gland, and is thus a great asana for stress reduction and tension reduction. Physically, this asana helps in stretching the abdomen, opening the chest, and strengthening the shoulders. It also helps in firming the buttocks. Be sure that you raise yourself only to the height that you are comfortable at, so as to avoid straining your back.
- Ustrasana (Camel Pose) – A great and challenging backbend for those advancing through yoga, this pose is also known for its stimulation of the thyroid hormone, making it especially good for women who have been diagnosed with, or who are at the risk of, hypothyroidism. This asana also helps in stretching the entire body, strengthens the back muscles, and improves posture. Do not force your hands to touch your feet if you cannot – you can build up to the perfect pose by using blocks or raising your heels to practice.
- Matsyasana (Fish Pose) – A restorative and relaxing pose to counter our sedentary, desk-bound lifestyle, this asana helps in stretching the abdomen, opening up the chest, and stimulates the organs of the belly and throat, including the endocrine glands that produce hormones. Traditionally done in the padmasana, beginners should stretch their feet straight and use blocks to learn the pose before attempting the full variant.
- Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation) – This seamless flow of twelve asanas combined everything from stretches and core engagements to inversions and rest pauses, making it the complete mind-body stimulation package. Considered as an expression of gratitude to the sun for providing life on the planet, this sequence, practiced in a few rounds everyday, is believed to bring overall health and wellness of both mind and body.
- Sasangasana (Rabbit Pose) – Another asana known to target the thyroid gland, this asana is known to combat depression and fatigue, and help in the regulation of metabolic functions. This asana also helps in stretching the back and improving the circulation of the body. Hold the pose for at least thirty seconds and practice it three to five times to see its best impact.
- Garudasana (Eagle Pose) – A standing asana that challenges your balance and leg strength, this pose also releases upper-back tension and opens up the chest. The ankles, hips and wrists also get a nice stretch. Striking balance here can be a bit of a challenge, so you can brace against a wall with your back to help you out.
Fighting Hormonal Imbalance – A Holistic Endeavour
Remember that hormonal imbalance is a medical condition, and you would require medical diagnosis and support to set you on the right path. To facilitate the process, you can integrate these asanas into your daily workout to help restore your balance. It is also essential that you work towards a good, healthy diet, as nutrition is key in hormone production and helps in creating balance in the body.
Thus, dealing with hormone imbalance required work all around – yoga will certainly go a long way, but it will not be enough. While it may be challenging to make such broad lifestyle changes, the positive is that with these changes, not only will you reduce your symptoms or problems, but also move towards a generally healthier mind and body.