Our supplies of human growth hormone, or HGH, decrease as we age. This loss is associated with some of the signs of aging, such as a slower metabolism, less muscle and more fat. The Yoga U website suggests that yoga can help combat the effects of lower HGH levels but only if you apply interval-training techniques to your yoga practice or combine it with intense bursts of more traditional forms of exercise.
HGH, the Somatopause and Yoga
Your pituitary gland produces HGH and secretes it into the blood stream after exercise, in response to stress and during sleep. Typically, you produce most of it during the night. The groups primarily concerned with dropping HGH are men and women over 45. You've probably heard of menopause, but there's also the "somatopause," which hits both men and women. This is the so-called "middle-age spread" caused by the decline in growth hormore (GH) levels. Exercise is the best way to boost dropping HGH levels and yoga has the benefit of reducing your stress levels as well as providing poses that use combined-muscle groups. This muscle use is an important factor in natural HGH production.
To use yoga to boost your HGH levels, you need to practice it intensely enough to get out of breath and to use your "super fast" muscle fibers, according to Yoga U. Interval-training techniques that alternate rest with intense activity help HGH levels. You can use this in yoga by alternating a 20-minute series of slow, stress-relieving poses like Apanasana, Cobbler's pose and Savasana with several Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations, at speed, for example. As an alternative to a fast Surya Namaskar, jump from the forward bend pose Uttanasana into Chaturanga pose and from there to Downward Dog and back to Uttanasana for an HGH-boosting yoga routine. You may need to build up the intense part of your routine, but aim to do it fast enough to get out of breath. As you progress, you'll be able to increase the length of time you spend on the intense intervals.
Yoga Plus Anaerobic Exercise
Alternatively, Yoga U suggests that you alternate a relaxed yoga practice that emphasizes stretching poses with short bursts of cycling or sprinting for a beneficial effect on your HGH levels. Typically, these bursts last less than 20 minutes. For example, if you have an exercise bike, warm up for three minutes and then pedal as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Return to a moderate pace for 90 seconds then repeat your intense pedaling and recovery period about seven times.
Health Warning: Keep It Natural
HGH supplements are widely advertised. Combating the effects of decreased HGH production by natural means, such as yoga and anaerobic exercise, is the preferred option and less likely to bring you problems in the long term, as a Harvard Health newsletter "Growth Hormone, Athletic Performance and Aging" points out. Indeed, it states that studies show that the use of supplements to replace other hormones that decline with age, such as estrogen and testosterone, cause more harm than good.
- Harvard Health Publications: Growth Hormone Not Safe or Effective in Slowing Aging
- Yoga U: Menopause, Perimenopause and--Somatopause?
- Yoga Outlet: Relaxing Yoga Poses For Beginners
- Harvard Health Publications: Growth Hormone, Athletic Performance and Aging
- International Journal of Yoga: Modulation of Immune Responses in Stress by Yoga
- Yoga Journal: Standing Forward Bend: Uttanasana