The adrenal glands found above the kidneys play a crucial role in how we experience stress via the secretion of “stress hormones” including adrenaline and cortisol. The bow posture pictured below squeezes these glands which has the effect of bringing the secretion of stress hormones back into balance. As a result of doing the bow, a “stressed out” person who’s adrenals are secreting excessive cortisol will experience a reduction in negative stress because of the re-balancing of the adrenals. In support of this claim, a recent study conducted by Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and the Yoga Research Society, researches discovered a significant drop in the stress hormone cortisol in students after participating in a yoga class compared to before the class.
George Brainard, M.D., a Professor of Neurology at Thomas Jefferson Medical College conducted a similar study that also showed a significant drop in cortisol levels of subjects following asana (physical postures) practice.
The findings suggest that practicing yoga—even for the very first time—can normalize cortisol levels that are either too high or too low – Vijayendra Pratap, Ph.D., president of the Yoga Research Society in Philadelphia.
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