Being a mother of four, I certainly know a thing or two about hormones! And I’ve also found that yoga can be hugely beneficial to everyone when it comes to restoring natural hormonal balance, thereby helping to keep our physical and mental health in check.
The endocrine system, which is made up of a collection of hormone-producing glands, is essential to practically every function in the body. These functions range from energy levels to growth and development, as well as metabolism and sexual function. When you are struggling with a hormonal imbalance, you could suffer from a wide variety of symptoms—including headaches, skin problems, insomnia, fatigue, weight gain, and mood problems. It’s easy to see why keeping the endocrine system working at an optimal rate is essential to ongoing good health!
Certain yoga poses, like these three below, can stimulate the hormone-producing glands and help them maintain optimal function. This leads to consistent production and distribution of these hormones around the body. Yoga's focus on breathing is also beneficial for stimulating the endocrine system, helping it to function more effectively. For natural relief from hormone-related symptoms, try adding these poses to your practice.
Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana)
This pose works to stimulate the thyroid and the parathyroid glands. It is also believed to help combat depression. The thyroid gland is located in the neck and secretes hormones that regulate growth and metabolic function. The parathyroid glands are also found in the neck and control how much calcium is released into the body. If the hormone balance of the parathyroid glands is not balanced as it should be then this can be detrimental to calcium distribution.
To get into this pose, start by sitting on your heels in Hero Pose. Extend your arms back and hold onto the soles of your feet. 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. Lift your hips upward slightly as the crown of your head rests on the floor, and rest comfortably for 5 deep breaths. You can then slowly return to Hero Pose. Repeat 3 times.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Cobra Pose serves to massage the adrenal gland. When the adrenal gland is affected in this way it is better able to function, which can enable your body to better combat stress and release tension.
Begin by lying flat on your stomach with your legs together and your palms flat on the floor beside your shoulders. Your head will start resting flat on the floor, and you can then lift your head and chest upward. Hold this pose for up to a minute, inhaling and exhaling deeply, before lowering yourself back down toward the ground. Repeat this pose a few times to really enjoy its benefits.
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Camel Pose is popular due to its wide range of known benefits, not least of which is its ability to help regulate your hormones. As you hold this pose, it works to stimulate your internal organs, especially in the neck region. As we now know, this is where the thyroid and parathyroid glands are located, meaning they enjoy the benefits of this pose!
To get into Camel Pose, start by kneeling on the floor, and keep your knees hip-width apart. Move your thighs slightly toward each other, and bring your hip bones up slightly toward the torso. At this time, your shins and your toes should remain firmly on the floor. Bring your hands to rest on the back of your pelvis with the palms of your hands touching your body. Use your hands to push your tailbone down gently as you push your thighs backward to counteract your body from moving forward. You should then breathe in deeply as your shoulder blades move toward your ribs. Lean backward slightly and relax your ribs before pulling the lower ribs up toward your chest and away from the pelvis. Bring your hands down to meet your heels, and move your arms outward. Hold this position for 30 seconds before you lift your torso up, bring your arms forward, and return to the original position. Try repeating this pose several times to really reap the benefits.
Julie Montagu is one of London's top yoga and nutrition teachers. As Cosmopolitan put it, "Among London's taut-buttocked set, the name Julie Montagu is talked about with the sort of reverence reserved for the Dalai Lama. (Her Sunday class in SW3 gets so packed that she often teaches standing on a radiator. True Story.)"
Julie is the star of Bravo TV’s "Ladies of London" and the brains behind her new membership wellness site www.truly-julie.com. Married with four children, Julie's workshops on self love, letting go and happiness have been sell out successes. Head to www.juliemontagu.com for more information.