We could bang on forever about the benefits of hot yoga, but today’s lesson from the health pulpit is about cortisol, A.K.A. the belly fat hormone, and how yoga kicks its big fat butt. Most of us would like a slimmer, flatter waist, or the sculpted abs flaunted by those annoying healthy selfie types, but if your body’s cortisol levels are out of whack then you are going to be fighting a losing battle.
Cortisol is the stress hormone released by the adrenal glands in order to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and the immune system. It’s really handy if you are running from a herd of predators (muggers, in modern times) but chronic stress is the scourge of our time. Sources that can contribute to chronic stress include:
– Negative thoughts and worry
– Sugar and carb-heavy processed foods
– Caffeine abuse (more than 2 coffees per day)
– Loads of other things. Getting on the tube every morning. Sexism. Driving in London during rush hour. Night buses. Automated answering systems.
So anyway, chronic stress can create a nasty cascade of side effects – try these on for size:
– Excess belly fat
– Serious drop in testosterone (important for men AND women)
– Bone and muscle loss
– Low libido
– High blood sugar and insulin resistance
Bad, yeah? Reducing stress from your life, your diet and cutting out sugar and processed foods will help, but this will only get you so far. Guess what? It seems the most effective thing you can possibly do to normalize your cortisol levels…is yoga.
Why? It’s an amazing combination of deep breathing, mindfulness, and cardio vascular activity that seems to work together like the 3 witches in Charmed to burn off the excess cortisol, i.e. the ‘flight’ element of the ‘fight or flight’ equation, whilst at the same time helping the body take its metaphorical foot off the adrenalin button.
A regular practice will help regulate your cortisol levels, and the Fierce Grace system will help you redefine your body shape. Easy!