Our friends over at Eatable have shared an article with us all about using yoga to reduce adrenal fatigue. Learn how to de-stress and revive your adrenals using restorative yoga.
Using Restorative Yoga for Adrenal Fatigue
What is adrenal fatigue?
Your body has a very smart way of dealing with stressful or threatening situations; it goes into “fight or flight” mode with the release of hormones cortisol and adrenaline to get through that tough meeting at work or run away from that tiger!
Whilst in survival mode, many bodily functions are limited – this is perfectly healthy as long as the mode is short lived. During prolonged periods of stress, your body may fall into adrenal fatigue which means that it loses the ability to function, rest and repair itself effectively.
Your adrenal glands are located just above each of your kidneys and play a crucial role in many bodily functions, including balancing hormones. When there is a constant high amount of cortisol and adrenaline in the body, these important little glands become very tired. Their job is doubly hard with challenges like endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, hormonal imbalances and other issues that are becoming commonplace, particularly for many women.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- Difficulty waking up in the morning
- Feeling tired for no reason
- Easily frustrated or irritated
- Low capacity for concentration
- Feeling more awake in the evening than the morning
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Mood swings
That may sounds like we’ve just rattled off a bunch very common symptoms, unfortunately adrenal fatigue is very common, so it’s symptoms are sometimes taken in our daily lives as “normal”. The main culprit is cortisol, an important hormone that’s become the infamous stress hormone. If you’ve got a cortisol party that just won’t quit, then your body tends to to work in overdrive and then crash suddenly when you least expect it.
One fantastic, holistic way to replenish your tired little adrenal glands is to engage in some refreshing, restorative yoga poses. Unlike it’s sweaty vinyasa cousin, restorative yoga allows you to slow down and move slowly into poses.
Tips to Begin
Props are a really nice addition to a restorative yoga practice. If you don't have a bolster simply roll up a blanket and you'll be good to go. These poses will be best enjoyed in a warm room where you will not be disrupted. Play some nice relaxing music, light some candles and incense. Relax in these poses for 3-10 minutes per pose, breathing slowly and consciously through any tension or emotions that arise. The aim of the poses is to allow you to relax, so if you feel uncomfortable at any point then use pillows or blankets as described, or slowly come out of the pose. Listen to what your body needs and enjoy!
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Balasana helps you to feel calm, grounded and connected to the earth. It also provides a gentle opening of the hips, depending on which variation you take. In restorative yoga it’s best to work with a bolster or blanket, the main aim is that you should feel comfortable and relaxed, not strained or uncomfortable. If you have sore knees or a thin mat, you might like to place a blanket underneath them.
Start by kneeling on your mat with the tops of your feet to the ground and big toes touching. Bring your knees out to the width of the mat and then sit back onto your heels. Slowly bring your torso towards the mat using your arms to guide you further forward and rest your forehead onto the mat or place your bolster/blanket under your torso. Remember to relax your shoulders away from your ears so that your neck is relaxed and you’re not hunching.
Supported Sukhasana (Pleasant Pose)
This pose is great for releasing tension in the back and neck muscles. It should feel very calming over your whole body.
To begin, find a chair and place folded blankets on the seat. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position and fold forward onto the chair, resting your head and arms on the padded seat. You may need to adjust the blankets to a comfortable height. Your spine will be long and you should feel relaxed. There is also the option to place blankets or a bolster under your buttox to sit higher or if you feel your sacrum needs extra support. You have the option of turning your head to one side or placing your forehead or chin on the chair. Find the position that feels best for you and stay here for a few minutes focusing on your breath.
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Cobbler’s Pose)
This pose is perfect for connecting in with your breath, a practice that helps to support the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).
To begin, sit upright with the soles of your feet together and knees apart, you should feel your sit bones rooting down to the earth. Take a moment to become comfortable here whilst sitting. If there is too much pressure on your knees or hip flexors use pillows or a folded blanket under each knee to relieve any tension. Once you are comfortable start to recline back, first onto your elbows and then lowering all the way down so that your spine is laying straight on the floor. You can choose to place your hands by your side, palms facing up; or place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach and breath deeply here for a few minutes.
Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall Pose)
Not only does this pose; slow your heart rate, reduce the nerve input into the adrenal glands by stimulating the baroreceptors (your blood pressure sensors) in your neck and upper chest, relax the blood vessels and slow the brain waves; it’s also commonly referred to as the ‘foundation of youth pose’ and said to keep you looking younger for longer. It’s basically the superfood of yoga poses. :)
Place your right hip against a wall and use your arms behind you to steady your body as you slowly swing your legs up against the wall. Adjust yourself so that your buttox are closer to the wall, your sacrum is resting on the floor and your legs are straight up the wall in front of you. Once you are comfortable bring your hands down beside your hips, palms facing up or you can choose to place them on your stomach to help you become aware of your breath. There's also a more restorative (read: friendly) option that's extra kind on the sacrum. Simply place a folded blanket on the floor in front of the wall and move into the pose your sacrum will then be laying flat on the blanket.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Ah savasana! The sweetest word in the sanskrit language and everyones favourite yoga pose! Whilst it may seem like you are just laying there, there’s actually a lot of goodness happening in your body. By focusing on long, deep exhalations you will be slowing your heart rate and bring an overwhelming sense of calm to the body.
Lay down on your back and bring your legs out slightly wider than your hips. Allow your feet to relax out to the side. Place your arms beside your hips in a comfortable, but wider-than-normal, distance from your body with the palms facing up. Slightly tilt your chin towards your chest to create length in the spine and begin to actively settle down. Close your eyes, relax your face, your tongue, allow your eyes to roll back into your head and begin to breath deeply, focusing on long exhales. Stay here for at least 10 minutes.
*Pictures courtesy of Eatable