The adrenal glands are like little hats that sit on top of the Kidneys they are vital to our well being and play a major role in secreting hormones, especially those needed at a time of stress, is the aha already starting to come up?
In very basic terms when we are under stress the adrenals kick in and start to secrete hormones such as epineohrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine and dopamine, these are also known as neurotransmitters, their job is to keep us alive in times of the Flight or Flight syndrome of our primitive brain.
It’s important to understand that adrenal fatigue is built up over years of stress, and stress can be defined in many different ways from the obvious of being in war zones and constant conflict or danger to, these days, the pressure of work/life balance being out of balance.
Some other culprits to adrenal fatigue are:
Chemical and environmental pollutants
A handful of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are below, these depend on the stage of the fatigue and by no means represent all symptoms.
Loss of muscle tone
Dark circles under the eyes
Lower back pain
Blood sugar and blood pressure issues
Low sex drive
Emotional stress, which can be connected to poor diet, bad sleep etc is probably one of the biggest causes of adrenal fatigue, our suppression and inability of being able to express ourselves in a holistic manner can leave small charges of stress in our body, that over time build up as deposits in the bank of un-wellness.
Food has changed dramatically and we are eating more refined foods, particularly sugar, than ever before. Added to that in the Indian diet we loved deep fried and sweet, we have added more weight to our body not just in actual weight terms but in stress terms.
Chronic disease and Trauma mean that the body is constantly having to fight, this up’s levels of stress hormones, sometimes off the scale, and here begins the road to breaking down of healthy systems.
It needs to be understood very clearly that we are like a finely tuned instrument or as I often say a Formula 1 car, it takes many people to get the tuning just perfect and within our bodies it takes all of our organs and various different systems to work together to get us finely tuned to operate at optimum balance in life.
Therapeutic Yoga has been used for thousands of years in helping combat symptoms of the mind, body and emotions, within the context of adrenal fatigue restorative poses can help calm all three down to the point that the body can start to come to rest and recover. The adrenal fatigue issue comes about when the adrenals have had no recovery time. In our fast paced, over stimulated lives, electronically as well as through lifestyle and diet, our bodies are getting very little in the way of recovery time these days.
How does restorative yoga help?
In restorative practices we try and do as little as possible for longer periods of time, we use a few poses known to calm the nervous system down and bring about a feeling of peace and relaxation.
As much as possible we help the body by using props to allow even the muscles to come to a state of relaxation, it is the state of doing nothing, that creates the green light for the bodies internal systems to go into a state of rest and repair.
Repair will also require the right nutrients and foods to help flush out toxins as well as regain health in the vital tissues, organs and fluids of the body, essential to note that we need to feed the body to grow a better mind, not feed the mind to indulge in cravings that then result in a out of balance body.
In a restorative practice you create a quite, warm dark space, one that feels safe and free for you to relax in, committing to doing the practice regularly daily allows for a new foundation in the body to be built, as well as giving the adrenals constant signals to calm down and rest.
Some of the poses below can be used as daily restorative poses to help you combat adrenal fatigue, they can be a starting to point to eventually finding a practitioner to work with, a practitioner of yoga therapy will help you come to a deeper understanding as well as bring in more practices such as pranayama to help restore the breath back to balance as well as help you understand how you hold your stress and better still, holistic ways to deal with it.
Supported Sukasana (Easy forward bend)
Option 1 – Come to sitting in a comfortable cross legged position on the floor, facing a chair, support your sit bones and hips by placing a blanket or cushion underneath you, ensure that both the sit bones are level.
On the chair, before you start place a planet or cushion that is high enough to rest your forehead on safely and comfortably.
Sit as close as you can to rest your forehead, you should feel no tension or stress in the neck or shoulders and you can rest your arms in a comfortable position that takes any tension out of them.
Option 2 – If you can not sit on the floor then sit on the chair ensuring it is placed near a table that you can rest your head on, again place a cushion or blanket to make it comfortable for yourself.
Hold the pose for as long as you can.
Savasana (Corpse pose)
Coming to lying in a neutral position, support the body with a blanket below you, one over you. A cushion or rolled up towel under your head so neck is in neutral and have something dark to cover your eyes with. You can also place a cushion or yoga bolster underneath your knees to release more of the lower back.
Once you are completely comfortable put the covering over your eyes.
Start to watch your breath inhaling and exhaling an in a comfortable way through the nose as much as possible all the time.
Hold the pose for as long as you can.
The ideal is to hold the pose comfortably and for as long as you can so that the nervous system gets an opportunity to calm completely down. A regular practice such will allow the rest and repair and help the mind, body and emotions feel more relaxed and happy.
Differing levels of adrenal fatigue dictate ‘how long will it take’, as we all are very unique in how we process our experiences this is not an easily quantifiable thing. The beauty of yoga is that it allows integration of our mind, body, emotions as well as allows us to stay in the present moment, the more in sync we are with our natural rhythms and cycles the better we are able to deal with the world around us.