Almost everyone in our modern society experiences some form of stress everyday. Adrenal fatigue comes from being under chronic stress without sufficient recovery. Here are some ways to begin healing and balancing yourself.
- Remove toxins (sugar, caffein, alcohol, smoking, gluten, etc.)
- Maintain a clean and simple diet.
- Eliminate over-stimulation and technology use.
- Make sleep a priority (this is when the adrenals and other vital organs heal)
- Feeling spread thin? Let go of some commitments. You don’t have to do it all.
- Release unhealthy relationships
- Forgive. Let go of drama and negative stories.
- Practice yoga!
But sometimes we cannot change the external situation, in those times we must remember that we can always control our inner response. Yoga empowers us with tools for navigating life with inner strength, steadiness, and peace.
In order to better understand, how yoga practice can help our body and mind deal with stress, lets take a closer look at the Relationship between breath, rest, and the nervous system:
- Autonomic nervous system functions largely below the level of consciousness to control. Most autonomous functions are involuntary but they can often work in conjunction with the somatic nervous system which provides voluntary control. The ANS has two main divisions or modes:
- Parasympathetic nervous system which is associated with rest, meditation, a sense of connectedness. It governs tranquil functions: deep healing, and digestion. Activates with slow deep breathing.
- Sympathetic nervous system which is involved in the stimulation of activities that prepare the body for action, such as increasing the heart rate, increasing the release of sugar from the liver into the blood, and other generally considered as fight-or-flight responses (responses that serve to fight off or retreat from danger). Activates with shallow rapid breathing.
We must strive to live in the parasympathetic mode as much as possible by recognizing when the sympathetic nervous has overtaken our system.
To help turn off the adrenal glands and calm the nervous system, consider adopting the following yogic practices into your daily routine:
- Get into the present moment. A great way to do this is to go from one sense to the other, focus only on what you can hear, feel, see, smell or even taste. By highlighting one sense, the others become less active. We become single focused in the present.
- Meditate. Learn to simply be and accept things exactly as they are. Practice experiencing yourself moment by moment with out distraction or reaction with complete acceptance. Rest into it.
- Get out of your head and into your body. Move your body! You can’t always make it to a yoga class, but you can take a 5-10 minute yoga stretch break or simply go for a short walk. Try to do this 3 times a day.
- Learn to breathe deeply slowly and consciously. This will help counter the tendency most of us have to take short, chest-shallow breaths when we’re stressed (which only further triggers a stress response!)
- Practice Restorative Yoga. Here is a series that can work wonders. It purposely includes few postures, so you can hold each one for as long as it is comfortable.
- Supported Sukhasana (Simple Cross Legs Pose) bending forward, with forehead and arms resting on a padded chair seat. Stack folded blankets on the chair seat until you reach a comfortable height. This pose releases tension in the back and neck muscles, and feels very calming. If your legs are not too tight, you can also add similar forward-bending postures with one or both legs extended straight while the forehead rests on the chair. Most people need to raise the pelvis on one to three folded blankets while practicing these postures.
- Viparita Karani (legs up the wall, pelvis elevated on a bolster or folded blankets). If the legs tire of being straight, bend the knees and cross the legs, with knees near the wall. This pose stimulates baroreceptors (blood pressure sensors) in the neck and upper chest, triggering reflexes that reduce nerve input into the adrenal glands, slow the heart rate, slow the brain waves, relax blood vessels, and reduce the amount of norepinephrine circulating in the bloodstream.
- Supported Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bound Bridge Pose), supported on a bolster or on long, folded blankets. This pose also stimulates the baroreceptors, so it has many of the same effects as Viparita Karani. It relieves tension in the chest and front body, and prepares the lungs for breathing practice.
- Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose), Sit with feet together and knees apart. Recline onto your back and keep the feet together with heels pulled in close to the pelvis. Draw shoulder blades back and down the rib cage to help keep the chest open. Rest with palms up. Keep the back of the neck long and throat relaxed. This pose is great with the support of a long bolster under the head and spine (hips stay on floor). A folded blanket beneath the head can be helpful for people with very tight neck and shoulders.
- Savasana (Corpse Pose), with normal inhalation and long, slow exhalation. This pose allows complete relaxation in a neutral position. Emphasis on exhalation slows the heart and calms the mind. *Try legs on chair variation!
Take a few minutes to ask yourself the following questions and write out your answers. Contemplate an action plan!
- What peice of information from this article struck you as most important, insightful, and relevant to your life?
- What are 3 toxic things you can immediately release from your life? (refer to the list from the beginning of this article for ideas or add your own). Be specific, but simple and realistic.
- What are 2 stress-relieving yogic practices you read here that can immediately incorporate into your daily life?
Make time for self-care and recovery in your life. It will benefit you and all those around you as well.