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The Yoga Sequence Every Woman Needs If She's Going Through a Hormonal Imbalance

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When we’re talking about homoronal imbalanced for women, stress management is a good place to start. This yoga sequence will calm your nervous system and detox your organs.

Acupuncturist and yoga teacher Maria Villella offers up an energizing and blissful sequence, plus calming acupressure points, to find hormonal balance and peace of mind.

Without time for stillness, your hormones (and well-being) can pay a steep price for an accelerated pace of life. Years after a yoga injury inspired me to slow down and study acupuncture, I now help women elude the dangerous cycle of chronic stress. On the following pages, a cautionary tale, a yoga sequence, and acupressure meditations to boost vitality, wake up energized, and find peaceful and calming bliss.

I used to think yoga was too still for me, until I discovered Ashtanga’s beautiful rhythm and grace. Living in Buffalo, New York, in my early twenties, I spent weekends commuting to Toronto for my yoga teacher training and to study with my mentor, Ron Reid. What a pace of life!

But, that rapid pace had consequences. As Reid would say, my energy leaked all over the place. I was flexible and capable, but I didn’t understand containment or how to use my core to support my body. Metaphorically, this theme of overextending without support trickled into my entire life.

Eventually I traveled to India to study with Sharath Jois, Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, Maty Ezraty, and Chuck Miller. But I was overdoing backbends and in pain. I thought I’d be fine; I was young, resilient, and reckless. When I moved to LA after my trip, I had a full-blown back injury.

See also 16 Poses to Ease Back Pain

As I focused on healing, I reflected that I had always intended to study some form of medicine. Acupuncture turned out to be the most effective treatment for my back, so I was inspired to pursue my master’s in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and herbal medicine.

Now my patients are mainly women seeking to overcome fertility issues or balance their hormones. Some of my clients are using assisted reproductive technologies, so I work with their reproductive endocrinologists and offer acupuncture, herbs, and lifestyle adjustments to support medical treatments.

I knew I wanted to work with women, perhaps because I was always frustrated with my gynecologist visits. I dealt with too-frequent cycles and terrible PMS and acne. Birth control pills were my only option, and I didn’t take them. Looking back, my imbalances were all really related to diet, stress, and emotional distress. Once I made significant changes—saw a therapist, got help from friends in the naturopathic and TCM community, and developed a dedicated yoga practice—I was able to bring my body back into balance.

That’s why the integrative clinic I cofounded with my husband Joe Clarke and friend Carla Vidor blends TCM methods with the diagnostic tools of functional medicine. In addition to checking pulse and tongue, we review bloodwork to uncover underlying conditions, like thyroid issues or gut infections, so we can treat the cause of imbalance.

When we talk about hormonal balance in women, I believe stress management is a good place to start. We work at such a crazed pace in our culture, and we value doing—there is no surrender of being. Though we don’t face tigers every day, we live in constant state of fight-or-flight.

See also Yoga for Menopause: Alleviate Symptoms with Yoga

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a negative feedback loop that regulates stress response. Within seconds of encountering stress, the brain’s hypothalamus secretes cortico-tropin-releasing hormone (CRH), initiating a game of telephone. CRH tells the anterior pituitary gland to produce adreno-corticotropic hormone, which prompts the adrenals to release cortisol.

The “stress” hormone cortisol plays a critical role in quality of sleep. Cortisol and melatonin (the “sleep” hormone) have an inverse relationship, tag-teaming your circadian rhythms. At night, with cortisol at bay, you fall asleep as melatonin peaks. Then, melatonin tapers as cortisol gradually rises until it spikes and awakens you the next morning. Cortisol ebbs during the day as melatonin rises, culminating in bedtime. And so on.

But chronic stress scrambles this process. Cortisol levels skyrocket into the evening, and an overwhelming week can both exhaust you and cause insomnia.

There are other negative feedback loops that signal to the thyroid and ova-ries. If imbalances go on for too long, they can alter or even shut down repro-ductive function, as well as impact your metabolism, immune system, and cardiovascular health.

Getting out of survival mode gives your nervous system a chance to recover. In a resting state, you can stabilize cortisol patterns, regulate your reproductive system, and restore a blissful sleep cycle. Try it for yourself with the calming practices on the following pages.

See also Can’t Sleep? Try These 6 Restorative Poses Right in Bed

A yoga practice that prioritizes stillness can calm your nervous system and harmonize your HPA axis. Remember, if you are pushing full throttle at work and home—and eating processed foods—you can’t push your yoga practice as well.

I designed this hormone-balancing sequence to induce both the relaxation response as well as detox. Our organs are overloaded with harmful chemicals, so twists help clean out your liver, colon, even your ovaries. Plus, once you release abdominal compressions, fresh blood rushes back into your uterus and ovaries to create more cell activity and build (and shed) endometrial lining. All postures below, except Savasana (Corpse Pose), should be done using Ujjayi (Victorious) Breathing.

Finally, the acupressure meditations included here build a heightened sense of awareness in your subtle body. In TCM, it isn’t the pressure or needles themselves that heal us. Rather, they offer an energetic suggestion, creating conditions so your body can begin healing itself. My yoga teacher Ron Reid used to say that energy follows intention, and in my life I’ve seen that to be true.

Ever fall asleep just to jolt awake at 3 a.m.?

Poor blood sugar management may be to blame. After all, stress doesn’t exactly help with healthy eating habits. Plunging blood sugar can trigger an emergency response: hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and glucagon surge to extract glucose from the muscles and liver in order to feed the brain and body. The solution: Eat more wild-caught fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, and avocados. As slower-burning sources of energy, they can prevent spikes and crashes.

See also How Yoga Can Help You Deal with Diabetes

STUDY WITH MARIA

Tired of dealing with mood swings, cramps, or fatigue? In her online course, Maria dives into the physiology of reproductive health and offers yoga, acupressure, meal plans, and more to regulate your cycle and boost overall well-being. Learn more: yogajournal.com/womenshealth.



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8 Ways Yogis Can Support Their Foot Health

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Support the foundation of your yoga practice.

Vivobarefoot is offering Yoga Journal readers an exclusive 15% discount through June 30, 2019. Get the discount code here.

Vivobarefoot is on a mission to change the footwear industry based on one simple insight – shoes should let your feet do their natural thing. By wearing Vivobarefoot wide, thin and flexible shoes, you can continue to strengthen your feet off the mat and throughout your everyday life, as well as reconnecting your feet with your brain and, ultimately, with the world, allowing you to reach your full natural potential. Check out vivobarefoot.com to learn more.​



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6 Yogi Dads Inspiring Us This Fathers Day

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Here are six yogi dads who inspire us to continue to cultivate deeper and more meaningful relationships with the children in our lives through their sacred fatherhood. Thank you, dads!

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1. Jah Sun

“If you’re seeing this, it means you have a father. I had one too. He’s was a brilliant chemist of a top firm in NJ. Seen him twice my entire life. I’m thankful he made me. Truly! As much I longed to see him more as a kid, The Universe knew what I needed and having him more fully in my life could’ve been more damaging. Who knows? Doesn’t matter. What I do know it that’s it’s perfect – as is – and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wouldn’t be me otherwise. So, today, I’m not simply offering up some generic “Happy Father’s Day” to all fathers. Because being a “Father” takes very little skill, 3 minutes behind a school bleacher at age 15-16 (some start younger than that) – if we’re keeping it real like adults. I’m raising the bar. Elevating the standard. I’m unwilling to continue to celebrate the bare minimum. Honoring men with zero, or little connection to their children and send money like they’re paying a car note. In and out, when it suits them, like a revolving door at a hotel. Instead, I’m standing up to SALUTE ALL DADS! Men who are there, present and CONSISTENT for their children (and being with Mom is not a requirement to be available for your baby). MEN who have taken up the mantle to raise another man’s child (that they left behind), and became Dad for them. I stand up and SALUTE ALL MOMS doing double duty as BOTH parents. I was a single dad for 5 years, so I don’t empathize – I sympathize because I did it too. Real life experience. The pain of that hurts on levels many can’t comprehend. So, I see you, and I’m proud of you! For the True DADS of all genders, skin colors and geographical location – SALUTE! Keep up the amazing work. Our children deserve nothing less!”

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2. Aubert Bastiat

“3/8/2019. Today I’m celebrating Cairo’s 1 year on this earth. Today I’m celebrating beautiful @divinedavana who I love more everyday. Today I’m celebrating my mother, my sisters and the Sacred Feminine in all Her expressions. ⁣

I celebrate not by word alone but by holding the highest vision and I do so through love, intention and action. ⁣ Although it’s only been a year since Cairo was born truly this last year has been the most EPIC of my entire existence. It was after becoming a father to Cairo at 33 that my vision became grounded to this earth in such a way that the manifold expressions of my service to this world crystallized into a singular focus – anchoring the Sacred Masculine to this earth.⁣ Because there is no greater gift that I can give to my family, community and this world than embodying the Sacred and anchoring it to this earth through every aspect of my life.⁣”

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3. Alonzo Nelson Jr. M.Ed

After 9 months and 41 hours of labor, my princess has arrived. April 10th at 6:43pm, Harper Renee Nelson made her grand entrance into my life. Fatherhood is my new favorite job. Sorry math!”

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4. Brian Delmonico

I didn’t know what to expect when Mia Luna was born. Like any new parent to be I received a love blast like nothing else I’ve ever experienced before. Holding her, calming her, changing her, smelling her, and loving her is a feeling I don’t think I could ever put into words. [The first two weeks of her life] changed my world, and brought new meaning to every moment of my life.”

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5. Adam Jackson

“Listening to music with Noah makes me hear it differently. I can hear it for the first time through him. We’re doing a little dance here. I want to show him everything. I can’t wait for him to show me everything.”

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6. Peter Maldonado

My favorite girl. Being a dad to such a gentle delicate little kid like her comes with challenges. Sometimes I have no clue what I’m “supposed” to be doing with her. I just make sure she’s fed, clean, and genuinely happy. I feel like she teaches me way more about life than I teach her. Grateful that recovery has enabled me to be the best dad I can be to this kiddo. Because she’s pure love and deserves the best.”



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Ayurveda

YJ Tried It: I Followed an Ayurvedic, Dosha-Balancing Diet for a Week

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Yoga Journal video contributor Sky Cowans tries following an Ayurvedic nutrition plan based on her dosha (mind-body type).

Yoga Journal video contributor Sky Cowans tries following an Ayurvedic nutrition plan based on her dosha (mind-body type).

Ayurveda is the world’s oldest health system and the sister science of yoga. Ayurveda is based on the elements in nature. According to Ayurveda, there are three mind-body types called the doshas. Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha. Vatta is air, Pitta is fire and Kapha is the earth. Based on your mind-body type, Ayurveda offers various nutrition, self-care, and spiritual recommendations to bring the mind, body, and spirit back into balance and harmony.

In this video, Sky interviews Sahara Rose, an Ayurvedic expert and nutritionist. Sahara discusses Sky’s Pitta imbalance and advises her how to structure a meal plan to bring her body back to balance.

See also 7 Chakra-balancing Ayurvedic Soup Recipes



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