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The endocrine system is made up of a collection of hormone-producing glands. The hormones produced are essential to carry out practically every function in the body, ranging from maintenance of energy levels, metabolism, sexual function, mood, growth and development. When there’s a hormonal imbalance, you could develop a wide variety of symptoms — including headaches, skin problems, insomnia, fatigue, sudden weight gain or weight loss, and muscle loss to name a few. For women, irregularities in the menstrual cycle and blood flow are very common. Think of hormonal imbalance as being a recipe of a dish, too much or too little of any ingredient affects the dish.
It’s easy to see why keeping the endocrine system working at an optimal rate is essential to maintain good health!
Also, while each of the glands in the endocrine system has specific functions, and can cause certain symptoms if out of balance, the entire endocrine system is a connected system that works together. If one gland is out of balance, it is likely to affect other glands in the system as well.
So, while we can choose yoga poses that impact specific glands, it is also important to do the kind of yoga practice that helps to keep the entire system balanced.
Here’s how yoga helps:
1. Certain yoga poses can stimulate the overall system, and help them maintain optimal function. This leads to consistent production and distribution of these hormones around the body.
2. Yoga’s focus on breathing is also beneficial for stimulating the endocrine system, helping it to function more effectively.
3. Hormone imbalance happens due to stress as well. Yoga’s role in stress reduction has been well-documented, through a number of scientific studies over the years. Incorporating pranayama and meditation techniques will also add to the benefits of your asana (physical) practice.
It is very important to mindfully do the asanas and get all the attention on the endocrine system, while practising.
For natural relief from hormone-related symptoms, try adding these poses to your practice.
Step 1: Lie down on your stomach on the yoga mat with your feet together, palms directly under the shoulders, your elbows straight back and hug them into your sides.
Step 2: Inhale to lift your chest off the floor. Roll your shoulders back and lift up only till the navel. Make sure your elbows continue hugging your sides. Don’t let them wing out to either side. Draw the shoulders away from the ears.
Step 3: Keep your neck neutral; don’t crank it up. Your gaze should stay on the floor.
Breathe in and out in this pose for five long breaths, and then come back to the starting position.
Step 1: Start with lying down on your back. Bend or fold your knees and keep your feet and hip distance apart on the mat, ensuring your knees and ankles are in a straight line.
Step 2: Place your hands by your side. Inhale and press your feet into the ground, gently lifting your hips. Slowly lift your lower back, middle back and upper back off the mat.
Step 3: Now gently roll in the shoulders, touch the chest to the chin without bringing the chin down, supporting your weight with your shoulders, arms, and feet.
Stay there for five long breaths, and while exhaling gently release the pose, get your hips back down.
Step 1: Bring your feet about mat-width apart and slightly turn out your toes.
Step 2: Bend the knees and lower your hips toward the floor to come into a squat. If your heels lift from the floor, place a rolled blanket or towel underneath them.
Step 3: Take your upper arms inside your knees, bending the elbows to press against your thighs and join the palms together.
Step 4: Keep your spine straight, your hips moving toward the floor, and your shoulders relaxed away from your ears.
Stay in malasana for 10 long breaths.
Step 1: Start by sitting on your heels in the hero pose or vajrasana. Extend your arms back and hold onto the soles of your feet.
Step 2: Tuck your chin inward toward your chest, as you round your body forward, hinging your body at your hips. At this point, your head should drop toward the floor, as your forehead touches your knees.
Step 3: Lift your hips upward slightly, as the crown of your head rests on the floor without any pressure.
Rest comfortably for five deep breaths. You can then slowly return to hero pose. Repeat three times.
Step 1: Kneel with your body upright and hips stacked over the knees. Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, with your fingers pointing to the floor.
Step 2: Rolling the shoulders back, leading with the chest, start moving your hips and thighs forward to gently lean back. Your chin should be slightly tucked toward your chest, keeping your gaze forward.
Step 3: If you’re comfortable here, you can take the pose even deeper. Reach back and hold onto each heel. Keep your thighs perpendicular to the floor, with your hips directly over your knees. Take five long deep breaths here
Step 4: To release the pose, lift up through your pelvis, keeping your lower spine long and gently sit back in child’s pose (balasana).