Think about the last time you felt truly relaxed- nowhere to go, no one to be, tension-free and happy.
Where were you? Who were you with? What smells, tastes, sights and sounds do you remember?
Think about it in detail for a minute right now.
Are you feeling more relaxed? Great! The rest of this article is aimed at helping you to achieve the sense of calm you felt in the memory above more often in your life.
One of the best ways to cultivate calm within our selves and our busy lives is yoga. I have been yoga-in for about 10 years now. By no means am I an expert, or even able to do crazy headstands and arm balances, but yoga has saved me. And it’s not just anecdotal stories that should convince you (although they did with me!), there’s some serious science to back up the yoga craze.
What You Feel Like When You’re Stressed Out
Awareness is a huge step towards making positive changes in your life. If you can’t recognize patterns of distress your body is sending you like giant red flashing lights, you can’t help yourself.
So how can we cultivate this awareness? By keeping track of patterns.
Specifically when you’re stressed, you can experience any number of symptoms, including the following list. See how many you’re checking off as you read through- likely the more of these symptoms you experience, the more stressed you are and the harder it is for your body to cope without support.
- Quick to anger
- Brain fog
- Inability to focus
- Cold hands and feet
- Body aches and pains including shoulder, neck, jaw, lower back and hips
- Chest pain
- Heart racing or irregularity
- Panic attacks
- Shallow breathing
- Fist or jaw clenching
- Poor digestion- sluggish or loose bowels, burping, bloating
- Fits of rage
- Menstrual cycle irregularities
- And much more!
What’s Happening in Your Body During Stress
So now that you have a slight idea of how you feel when you’re really calm, and what symptoms might be signalling you’re feeling major stress, let’s talk what’s causing these reactions in your body and how we can balance them naturally (aka with the Stress-melting yoga pose).
Your adrenal glands are very important for hormonal health, including both regulating your body’s stress response and creating sex hormones in small amounts. When you’re feeling stressed or are in a stressful situation, it’s your adrenals that kick in to help you get through it.
The main stress hormone the adrenals produce is called cortisol, and you may have heard of this hormone before. Cortisol is released both in acute and long-term stress. This means that every time you get pissed off at a dumb driver on the road, or internalize family drama that’s been going on for years, you’re telling your body you’re in a stressful and life or death situation (even if your life isn’t in danger). This is called the fight or flight response
Many hundreds of thousands of years ago, we were hunters and gatherers- living off the land and having to kill our own prey. The threat of bodily harm or death due to other large predatory animals and the elements was huge. Because of this, our bodies adapted to be able to save our asses in this kind of situation by releasing certain chemicals like the stress hormone cortisol, as well as adrenaline.
Here’s an example:
You’re out picking berries along the savannah, and you hear the cracking of dry brush in the distance, like it’s being stepped on. Your body will go on high alert, waiting for more information before deciding whether to fight or flee. If suddenly a lion comes charging at you through the brush, without you consciously making the decision, you’ll be running away in a split second flat. This is because the sudden increase in stress hormones has gotten your body ready to move quickly and easily to save your life. Your heart rate increases, pupils dilate and blood flow goes to the extremities.
All non life-saving body functions are put to the back burner- things like digestion and reproduction. Digestive juices dry up, and production and use of hormones like estrogen falls or goes crazy.
While this situation is awesome short term when your life is in danger, your body can’t tell the difference between that lion chasing you and your irritation over piles of dirty laundry or a crappy boss. So, every time you feel on high alert, stressed, tight, snappy- your body is in this fight or flight mode. Generally, this is happening to us several times per day, as we have little stress episodes like this many times throughout the day.
If this happens over a period of months or years, your adrenals begin to give up or go crazy and you can experience something called adrenal insufficiency or adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is a little known root cause or contributor to sex hormone imbalances, which is why I’m highlighting it here.
Why You Need to Manage Stress Better
As I’m sure you can gather, managing stress is mucho important for your overall well being and the health of your hormones.
When you’re better able to manage your stress in a healthy way, all those shitty symptoms we talked about above can be replaced with:
- Be able to predict when your regulated periods will come and know there won’t be pain keeping you on the couch with The Notebook, Midol and a heating pad.
- Have stable energy throughout the day and you won’t have to worry about 24/7 grumpiness because you’re over-extended and haven’t eaten for hours.
- Feel slim, feminine, strong and sexy in your body while coming to a happy and sustainable weight.
- Feel confident and empowered in your healing journey
- Experience clothes that fit year round- no need to undo buttons, live in yoga pants or go up a size every season
- Be present and actually participate in your life instead of watching it pass you by
One Life Changing Yoga Pose To Melt Stress & Balance Hormones
Pin it for later >> https://goo.gl/biJD21
Okay! Now we get to the fun bit, the bit you can actually put into practice into your life. Before I get into what the pose is and why it’s so amazing for your health and hormones, I urge you to remember that small changes can have massive impact on how we think and feel- even if it seems too easy. With consistent practice and attention, positive results will follow (aka doing it once ain’t gonna cut it!).
The yoga pose I’m excited to share with you is called Legs Up The Wall or Viparita Karani is so helpful in melting Stress and balancing hormones because it reverse the effects of gravity on the body, helps direct nourishing blood flow to your internal organs (especially reproductive and digestive organs, and your adrenal glands) and helps the body move from “fight or flight” mode to “rest and digest” mode.
A few of the many benefits that come from this include:
- Insomnia relief when used regularly before bed
- Softens symptoms of PMS and bothersome menopause
- Calms a busy mind
- Relieves stresses and anxiety
- Relieves swollen and tired legs and feet
- Improves digestion
How To Do Legs Up the Wall
If you’ve looked at the image, you an see it’s a fairly simple pose. The things to pay attentoin Ito are making sure when you’re in the pose you cal relax fully. Your neck and spine should be straight, and you can put a bolster or block underneath your sacrum if you wish to go a little deeper. If you feel you need extra grounding, a block put on the bottoms of your feet when they’re up in the air can help.
If all else fails, check out YouTube for more detailed instruction! Here’s to melting Stress and balancing hormones.
Guest Post by Sonia Turingia.
Cortisol is the peskiest lil hormone. Left to its own devices it causes a world of trouble. We’ve all heard about it. It’s the “stress hormone” and stress is the #1 cause of disease in the body.
Cortisol is designed to give you a quick boost of energy when you need to fight or flee a dangerous situation, like running from a Sabertooth tiger. It stimulates the adrenals to produce adrenaline. Giving you the energy and sharpness of mind outrun and escape that tiger. You’re running on adrenaline.
In our chaotic, deadline driven, society we often run around with our bodies reacting to everything as a threat. How many times have you “pushed through” the day despite being tired? Or start your day tired, hitting the snooze button, standing half awake under the shower? Then you make poor food choices and over use coffee and carbs to keep yourself going.
But there’s no tiger.
Repeated, daily high cortisol levels drains our adrenal glands and creates a serious hormonal imbalance. It can cause Adrenal Fatigue.
Adrenal Fatigue simply put is when the body’s demand for a constant supply of adrenaline cannot be met. You tank out. You hit the wall. You know that 3pm slump you hit on a rough day?? Imagine that…all …day….long.
Symptoms of an Adrenal Fatigue
• Fatigue – consistent, bone deep fatigue
• Inability to recover appropriately from exercise [you should feel tired postworkout for MAYBE 2030
minutes, then you should feel just fine. If you are dragging your ass for hours – that’s a sign!!]
• headaches with physical or mental stress
• weak immune system
• slow to wake – drag yourself out of bed after hitting the snooze button a few times
• feeling full or bloated after eating small meals
• craving sweets, caffeine, alcohol or cigarettes
• unstable behaviour/moods
• Waking up at 3am with an entire conversation going on in your head and you are unable to fall back
to sleep easily
• High blood pressure
• High insulin
• Low sexdrive
The Single Biggest Contributing Factor to Adrenal Fatigue is Stress.
It sounds simple enough, but the reality is that stress comes in so many shapes and sizes that it’s impossible to avoid it all together.
What we can do is identify the shapes and sizes that we can best control and make diet and lifestyle changes to work on lowering the stressload [reducing cortisol] in our bodies. We can find better ways to help our bodies to manage the stressors that we cannot eliminate.
And that’s where eating FAT comes in!
That’s Right, I Said Eat FAT
Fats like avocado, coconut oil, olives, feta cheese…these wonderful fats are soothing to the nervous system. It slows things down. Have you ever eaten a heavy meal [ like a bacon double cheeseburger] and felt sleepy afterwards??
Fat takes longer to break down than protein or carbs. It’s denser. It takes more energy to digest.
Use that fact to help heal your body!!
When you are nervous or highly stressed, eating a little bit of fat will calm you down!
• Have a smoothie with 1/4 avocado in it. Premake it in the morning when you know you’re going to
have a busy day and bring it with you.
• Keep a small jar of coconut oil at your desk and pop a teaspoon of it in your mouth 20mins before a
meeting or a presentation.
• Nibble some nuts and cheese
By calming the nervous system instead of stimulating it more [with coffee or sugar or carbs], you are effectively stopping the stress cycle. Cortisol isn’t pumping as high, nervous system calms down and the demand on your adrenals is less.
You are reducing the affect of the stress on your body.
4 Tools to Heal Your Adrenals
1. Eat FAT to satiety! Avocados, coconut oils & wraps, olives, nuts and seeds, fish oils [omega 3 fatty acids] ….to quiet the loop that feeds into higher cortisol production.
2. A variety of organic vegetables and small amounts of fruit.
3. Add mineral sea salt [Himalayan Pink salt] to food / water. This natural electrolyte will aid in re-
establishing hormonal balance.
4. A well-balanced (for you!) diet – focus on quality proteins and fats, add starch pre and/or post workout as needed for energy and recovery.
Keep it Simple
It’s not the stress that kills us. Its our lack of recovery from stress that kills us. Stress wouldn’t be such a bad word if it wasn’t a daily state of being.
Give that extra energy some FAT to chew on. You’ll feel calmer, regain focus and ROCK that stressful day without crashing.
Judge your “success” by how you feel at your next meal. Are you starving, shaky, low blood sugar??? Wereyou able to eat slowly and enjoy your food? Or were you soo hungry, you hoover’d it?
These are simple things. Easy to implement. But sometimes the simplest things work best.
If your interested in a high-fat snack, click HERE to get my delicious high-fat Chocolate Pudding Recipe!
Sonia is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and yoga teacher with a personal mission to helps others achieve kick ass health and athletic performance in the second half of their lives. Sonia has helped women of all ages to learn what they personally require to achieve kick ass health – and would be honored to help you, too! You can find out more by visiting her website.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Ground Ginger Powder
- 1-2 cups epsom salts
- 1 cup raw apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 2 tbsp ground ginger powder
- 5-10 drops total of your favourite essential oil(s)
- Put all ingredients in a fairly hot bath. Not hot enough to scald, but the idea is to sweat those toxins out!
- Bring a large glass of water into the bath with you. You will sweat, and so it’s important to replenish hydration. You could add some Vitamin C powder to the drinking water if you wish.
- Soak in the tub for 20-40 minutes.
- Get out of the tub slowly, and continue to drink water after the bath.
- You may want to time this bath right before bed. Most women find it makes them quite sleepy, and they sleep like a baby.
- You can also replenish your electrolytes after the bath with coconut water or water with a little bit of grey sea or pink himalayan salt and some vitamin C powder.