Yoga Helps Relieve Stress By Increasing Cortisol Levels
Yoga is the type of practice which helps people relax and it also helps them make a connection with their spirit. Through yoga, people become one, as their bodies merge with their souls.
According to a new research, however, it seems that yoga also help women with fibromyalgia cope better and maybe reduce their chronic symptoms, by increasing the cortisol levels. This study is the first one to look at how yoga can help women suffering from fibromyalgia both from a physical and psychological point of view. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that usually affects women and among the worst symptoms of the condition there are things such as fatigue, chronic pain, stiffness of the muscles, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and also gastrointestinal discomfort. Given that previous studies made on the issue showed that women who suffer from fibromyalgia have lower-than-average cortisol levels, the researchers involved in this study said that by increasing the cortisol levels, all the pain and fatigue may be relieved.
For the study, the researchers asked the women who participated to engage in a 75-minute hatha yoga session, twice a week for a period of 8 weeks. After these 8 weeks, the researchers took saliva samples from the women and they discovered that the cortisol levels had increased greatly. “Ideally, our cortisol levels peak about 30-40 minutes after we get up in the morning and decline throughout the day until we’re ready to go to sleep,” said the study’s lead author, Kathryn Curtis. “The secretion of the hormone, cortisol, is dysregulated in women with fibromyalgia.” For those who do not know, cortisol is the steroid hormone, which is produced by the adrenal gland and which acts as a component of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis when it comes to responding to stress. According to Curtis, this particular type of yoga, called hatha, helps people relax by making them decrease the activity in the sympathetic nervous system. This is responsible for the increase of the breath volume and for the reduction of heart rates.
In what concerns the study, all the women who took part in it were asked to complete a questionnaire related to the intensity of the pain they felt prior and after the study. What the researchers discovered was that women reported feeling less pain and they also reported an improvement from a psychological point of view. Furthermore, it seems that the women felt less helpless and they even got the chance to accept their condition and not dramatize about it, as they used to do before the study. Given that yoga promotes the concept of mindfulness, this was particularly increased and thus, the women were more able to detach themselves and feel less the pain that had created so many troubles for them in the past. The conclusion to which the researchers involved in the study got was that hatha yoga help women with fibromyalgia cope better with their condition and also that the way in which we feel from a psychological point of view has a lot to do with our physical response to that.11