Health Benefits of Yoga and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


Read Part 1 | Part 2

Health Benefits of Yoga

Health benefits of Yoga at workCould the health benefits of yoga change your life? Yoga is not a religion. Although it came out of ancient India, it is not a form of Hinduism. Modern yoga dates back to 1893. Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and Atheists alike happily practice yoga. There is certainly a spiritual side to yoga, but you do not have to subscribe to any particular belief to experience the health benefits of yoga. Yoga is a systematic technology to improve the body, understand the mind, and free the spirit. The health benefits of yoga include increased flexibility, more strength, added energy, and a thinner, more youthful appearance–all of which are desirable in Adrenal Fatigue recovery.

With practice, you are strengthening and calming the nervous system. It balances the dysfunctional stress-response system suffered by most in Adrenal Fatigue. Blood flow to internal organs is increased; more oxygen is delivered to the adrenal glands for healing; mental clutter is cleared. Spiritual as well as physical muscles are cultivated to make you happier, less anxious, and more at peace.

Because yoga builds on itself, the health benefits of yoga become more effective over time. It is equivalent to learning how to play a musical instrument: the longer you stick with it and practice the better you become and the more you get out of it.

Adrenal Yoga takes the best of traditional yoga and modifies it to suit those with Adrenal Fatigue. For example, certain stretching and strengthening exercises known as asana are removed, because they can stimulate the SNS. Gone are certain breathing techniques known as pranayama that can trigger a release of adrenaline. Posture and lung capacity are improved as is bowel function, lymphatic draining, and the function of the immune system. Gradually one feels more balanced and the body is better able to endure stress of daily living. Adrenal Yoga then, is about restoring internal balance, and with balance, internal control. It is not about physical flexibility, as many with Adrenal Fatigue are already quite flexible. It is not about increasing strength, as many men are strong and still suffer from Adrenal Fatigue. Adrenal Yoga is able to transform liabilities such as fear, inability to relax, low energy, anxiety, and depression into strength, giving the person exercising more control and a more balanced feeling.

Adrenal Yoga is a special form of therapeutic yoga that is gently nurturing by design. It places heavy emphasis on body awareness; rhythmic adrenal breathing that is non stimulatory, proper postural alignment, and movements that tone muscles. Special attention is placed on slow and relaxed motions that are suitable for all, including those that are in advanced adrenal failure and possibly close to being bedridden.

Science now realizes that changing dysfunctional habits is largely a matter of the mind. Adrenal Yoga helps by giving you greater control of your mind as well as greater understanding of the tricks it can play. This, perhaps, is what leads to a life transformation. This is particularly important in Adrenal Fatigue when emotional stressors are the major cause of dysfunction.

Those with advanced adrenal weakness will especially appreciate Adrenal Yoga and its transformational power. Adrenal Yoga focuses on enhancing and restoring parasympathetic nervous function by teaching the mind to work against the opinion. By slowing down the fluctuations of the mind, you can get in touch with a more blissful place inside. With practice, you will become more aware of a calmness at your core throughout the course of the day. It helps you to realize that much of what you routinely get upset and anxious about is not that important. It’s almost like toning down the repetitive obsession we have subconsciously about past resentments, old glories, and worries about the future. It puts our fear, desire or hate in a balanced perspective that can be dealt with in a systematic and logical manner. It forces us to stay with the present.

Health benefits of Yoga for Adrenal Fatigue recoveryIt lowers breathing and heart rate, increases blood flow to internal organs such as the adrenals, intestines and reproductive organs, and allows you to rest and digest. Many Adrenal Fatigue sufferers have concurrent gastric and assimilation difficulties. Adrenal Yoga enhances the relaxation response and avoids active stimulation of the SNS from exercises like backbends and strong pranayama technique. It lowers the level of cortisol when high, and modulates blood sugar levels. It does not quarrel with science but supplements science. Adrenal Yoga therefore complements modern medicine’s strength by providing more options for people in need of healing.

Adrenal Yoga is a holistic emphasis on strengthening your body and mind. It helps you get the most out of whatever other care you receive alternative or conventional therapy for your Adrenal Fatigue.

The Adrenal Yoga exercise series is, therefore, comprehensive and unique. The entire series is broken down into twenty-one sequential sessions that are grouped into three modules. Each module embraces specific themes customized to gently and effortlessly nurture the adrenals back to health. These themes are laid out in different sessions lasting anywhere from thirty-to-sixty minutes each. Each session, in turn, consists of a well-designed sequence of gentle postures that collectively offer a profound healing effect. The key to success is to start slow and progress through the sessions gradually and consistently, using the adrenal breathing technique throughout.

Let us examine each of these modules in more detail:

  1. Beginning Adrenal Yoga focuses on breathing and stretching. This forms the foundation of internal control.
  2. Intermediate Adrenal Yoga focuses on strength and toning. This serves to reverse the catabolic state and stabilize metabolic function.
  3. Advanced Adrenal Yoga focuses on fluidity and control. This serves to fine tune internal body homeostasis.

Many have gone from being almost bedridden to an active lifestyle with the help of Adrenal Yoga. The entire series can be achieved in three to six months.

When you are done with the Adrenal Yoga series, the body is fit and toned. The internal tune-up has been accomplished, muscular definition returns. The core body function is optimized. It comes as no surprise that people report a great increase in energy, reduction in fatigue, better blood sugar balance, stable blood pressure, increased sense of calmness and reduced anxiety.

Upon completion of the Adrenal Yoga series, you should be able to go into any regular gym and participate easily with any yoga or power yoga program at the beginner/intermediate levels without feeling drained or tired. For many of you who are in severe fatigue, this may sound impossible. Well, you will see for yourself. The key to success is to follow the lessons, be consistent, be patient, and let the body come to you. Our body has miraculous internal healing powers. Giving it the proper tools is all it takes to get started.

As with Adrenal Breathing and Restorative Exercise, there is a potential of an adrenal crash if it is not properly accomplished. For best results, Adrenal Yoga should be conducted with professional guidance.

Health Benefits of Yoga: Gym Yoga and Power Yoga

Finding a teacher for the health benefits of yogaWhen you are ready to receive the health benefits of yoga in a commercial gymnasium or want to follow a DVD at home, make sure to remember that you are still building your reserves. Since each program is different, suffice to say that you want a higher level of yoga that goes beyond what you have been able to accomplish with Adrenal Yoga. The tendency is to be overly aggressive, and that is not appropriate. Overly aggressive exercise, even with yoga, can trigger adrenal crash. These tips may be particularly helpful to avoid any backlash or injury:

  • In your poses, find an edge for yourself where you are challenged but not overwhelmed. At this edge, practice maintaining a clear, open, and accepting mental state.
  • Give yourself permission to rest when you feel overworked.
  • Pay close attention to what you are saying to yourself as you practice, and make an intentional effort to appreciate your own efforts and innate goodness.
  • Go to class faithfully, arrive early, and talk to a few people in your class before class begins.
  • Realize that the development of qualities like patience, discipline, wisdom, right effort, kindness, gratitude, and many others will arise from your yoga practice. These qualities create a steady and soft mind.
  • Find a teacher who offers a balance of gentleness and firmness and whose teaching inspires you to practice from your highest self.
  • Recognize that simply attending class is a major statement of courage, self-care, and positive momentum. Realize that you are inspiring others as you become truer to your deepest desires.

The next level of inner core training is power yoga. It is a general term used in the West to describe a vigorous, fitness-based approach to yoga. Most power yoga’s are closely modeled on the Ashtanga style of practice. The term power yoga came into common usage in the mid-1990s, when several yoga teachers were looking for a way to make Ashtanga yoga more accessible to Western students to share the health benefits of yoga even more with the western world. Unlike Ashtanga, power yoga does not follow a set series of poses. Therefore, power yoga classes can vary widely from one to the next. What they do have in common is an emphasis on strength and flexibility. The advent of power yoga heralded yoga’s current popularity, as people began to see yoga as a way to work out. Power yoga brought yoga into the gyms of America.

Power yoga classes can vary widely from teacher to teacher. However, power yoga will most likely appeal to people who are already quite fit, and who enjoy exercising. With consistent practice, muscle definition becomes prominent, toning is enhanced, and strength is improved. Power yoga represents an advanced form of yoga that focuses on the core strength.

Health Benefits of Yoga: Aerobics

We have two systems of energy production in our bodies – aerobic and anaerobic. Anaerobic exercises include activities that require fast explosive movements such as weight lifting, fast paced jogging, and any other exercise that cannot be performed for a long duration of time. This type of exercise is good for the heart, but it tends to put excess stress on the adrenals. They can trigger adrenal crashes if the adrenals are already low in reserves and weak. Those with advanced Adrenal Fatigue (Stages 3 and 4) should be particularly careful. They should be under professional guidance for Adrenal Fatigue, but should not fear as the health benefits of yoga can still be experienced by them.

Aerobic exercise includes long duration and slow paced activities such as walking, slow jogging, slow cycling, and any other form of exercise that involves endurance. This type of exercise will help decrease cortisol levels and aid in burning body fat as well. Aerobic exercise will benefit those who have stressed adrenal glands in the early stages, where cortisol output is high.

Health benefits of yoga on the cardiovascular systemIntense aerobic exercise, however, can also worsen adrenal function. Those with advanced adrenal weakness should not consider any activities more strenuous than walking or as instructed by their health care provider. Excessive aerobic activities drain the body of already low energy reserves.

Those in advanced Adrenal Fatigue should avoid all aerobic activities other than walking. Frequency and duration vary from person to person. Some may be able to tolerate only five minutes of walking every other day.

Aerobic exercise is generally introduced carefully and slowly at Stage 3b. As Adrenal Fatigue improves, frequency and intensity can be increased.

Here is a table summarizing when to emphasis each program:

Adrenal Fatigue Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3A Stage 3B Stage 3C Stage 3D
Fatigue Occasional Mild Mild to Moderate Moderate to Severe Severe to Extreme Bedridden
Power Yoga ✔✔✔
Aerobics ✔✔✔ ✔✔
Regular Yoga ✔✔ ✔✔✔
Advanced Adrenal Yoga ✔✔ ✔✔✔
Intermediate Advanced Yoga ✔✔ ✔✔✔
Beginner Adrenal Yoga ✔✔ ✔✔✔
Adrenal Restorative Exercise ✔✔ ✔✔✔ ✔✔✔ ✔✔✔
Adrenal Breathing Exercise ✔✔ ✔✔✔ ✔✔✔ ✔✔✔

Read Part 1 | Part 2

© Copyright 2013 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Health benefits of yoga




19 Comments

  • Laura Scalia says:

    Hello – where can I find the 21 exercises involved in the Adrenal Yoga?

  • Amber says:

    What’s the best way to get tested for AFS?

  • Linda says:

    Are these exercises in the Adrenal DVD suitable for someone with serious trigger points and myofascial pain and/ or fibromyalgia? Thank you.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      It is suitable for anyone because it advances slowly, starting with people who are bed bound.

      Dr Lam

  • Isaias says:

    Hi Dr. Lam,
    very helpful site, thank you very much for all the hard work you put into AFS.
    I just have one question; is it possible for someone who has gone through AFS to be fully healed and back to anaerobic exercises?

    Thank you very much!

  • April Anderson says:

    I really like the adrenal yoga sessions on your DVD and have completed number 12. I am in the later stages of adrenal fatigue, mostly caused by toxic mold in my house for 17 years and a lot of other trouble where I have a congested liver and lymph system. I get a retoxification reaction from micro nutrients and have not made much progress clearing my liver.
    I felt flu like symptoms from my last yoga session and wonder if I am detoxing the liver. It passed after 24 hours. Your articles about adrenal fatigue have been a life saver for me. Thanks Dr. Lam!

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Glad to know that you are doing well. The adrenal yoga exercises are very powerful. It gets more intense as you advance, building core, maintaining balance, fluidity and control. Be on the alert to back off if you feel too much. You should feel refreshed and energized but not hyped or tired for 4-6 continuous hours after ending your session. The symptoms you mention does point to some retoxification reaction.
      Click Retoxification & Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome for more information.

      Dr Lam

    • Thaddeus says:

      I also believe I wound up with adrenal fatigue mostly due to toxic mold exposure. I had some stress in my life but I believe the mold to be 75% of the cause. Within 6 months of moving into the house and doing some demolition in the basement I went from healthy and athletic to stage 3 adrenal fatigue. Usually how doctor Lam describes it there is a progression from stage 1 to 2 to 3 but I seem to fall to stage 3 very quickly and become disabled after I was exposed to the mold. Dr Lam’s work on adrenal fatigue finally gave me peace of mind that’s what going on, and the adrenal yoga has been extremely helpful in giving me a plan for gradual recovery.

  • Sophia says:

    Hello, I have purchased the complete course. How long should i do each lesson? eg. should I do lesson 1 a few times, a few days in a row before moving on to lesson 2? or as an example, lesson 1 in morning and lesson 2 in the evening? Also, is it ok to do it a few times each day if I feel able to do that? Thank you

    • Dr.Lam says:

      you can move forward as fast or as slow as you wish. the lessons get longer and more intense, up to 1 hour in the later sessions. do make sure you gauge yourself especially if you are in advance stages. rest frequently, and do not advance if you feel drained after the preceding session. you should feel relax and recharge after each session and not tired. Do not push yourself. Pace according to how your body feels. One session during the morning is generally enough.

      Dr Lam

  • Tory says:

    Hi there,
    Where csn i find the adrenal fatigue yoga program?
    Thanks
    Tory

  • Quin Honet says:

    Does the spiritual healing part of the yoga play a part in the actual exercise outcome ?

  • Dallas says:

    Thanks for the great info!