The adrenal glands are near the top of each kidney and are responsible for producing hormones such as cortisol and the sex hormones that the body needs to sustain life, according to Medline Plus. During adrenal fatigue, the adrenal glands do not function well enough to maintain optimal output of regulatory hormones because of over-stimulation, which normally occurs during prolonged periods of stress, according to Adrenal Fatigue. The relaxing and restorative effects of yoga practice can help alleviate adrenal fatigue.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms that occur when the adrenal glands function sub-optimally, according to Adrenal Fatigue. As its name suggests, fatigue is the key symptom, and this fatigue is not relieved by sleep, according to Adrenal Fatigue. Other symptoms include body aches and pains, and problems with digestion and sleep.
What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?
Intense and prolonged stress without adequate periods of recovery is thought to be the main cause of adrenal fatigue. When your adrenal glands cannot adequately meet the demands of stress, whether it’s physical stress such as an illness or surgery, or emotional stress such as a divorce or bereavement, adrenal fatigue sets in.
How Does Yoga Help?
The practice of yoga aids in recovery and improves your ability to cope with stress. The adrenal hormones are catabolic which means they result in burning energy and breaking down cellular structures. If the adrenal glands are activated over and over without sufficient recovery, the body can become depleted and exhausted as well as become susceptible to a variety of illnesses. In order to recover, the adrenal glands need to be "turned off." Practicing several restorative yoga poses daily in a warm, dark and quiet environment can help, explains Yoga Journal.
Each of the following poses can be held for as long as comfortable. First, try the supported sukhasana, or simple cross legs pose, where one is bent forward with forehead and arms resting on a padded chair seat. This pose releases tension from neck and back muscles, and has a calming effect. Second, Viparita karani, or legs up the wall pose, stimulates baroreceptors, or blood pressure sensors, in the upper chest and neck, which in turn trigger reflexes that diminishes nerve input to the adrenal glands, decreases heart rate, slows brain waves, relaxes blood vessels, and reduces the level of norepinephrine, a stress hormone, in the bloodstream. Third, the supported setu bandha sarvangasana, or bound bridge pose stimulates the baroreceptors and has many of the same effects as noted with the previous pose, according to Yoga Journal. Finally, savasana, or corpse pose, with normal inhalation and long, slow exhalation, will permit complete relaxation, decrease heart rate and calm the mind, notes Yoga Journal.
The term adrenal fatigue is often used in popular health books and alternative medicine, but it is not an accepted medical diagnosis. Proponents of the adrenal fatigue diagnosis claim existing blood tests aren't sensitive enough to detect such a small decline in adrenal function, but the body is, which is why the symptoms are present. Accepting a medically unrecognized diagnosis from an unqualified practitioner can be dangerous because it is possible that the real cause for symptoms such as depression or fibromyalgia might be related to another cause, not adrenal fatigue.