Why Fear, Anxiety and Stress Change our Chemistry. Restorative Yoga To The Rescue Part III

Restoritive Yoga To The Rescue Part III

By Diana Ross, ERYT 500 TriYoga and Co-Founder of Breast Cancer Yoga

It is possible to exert a certain amount of control over the body’s naturally occurring hormonal system.  We will want to maintain high GABA and endorphin levels and low stress hormone levels. This is particularly critical when our immune system has been compromised by excessive stress, chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments. The primary stress hormones, which inhibits GABA levels are epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is manufactured in the adrenal glands and synthesized from cholesterol. The hormone cortisol is released into the body during stress; hence it is called the “stress hormone.” However cortisol is necessary for the overall function of the entire body.  It is when there is an excess of cortisol that there is excess stress so when cortisol is secreted and remains in the bloodstream over prolonged periods of time, one may lose bone mass, or experience increased blood pressure, suppressed thyroid function, and weakened cognitive performance.  The consequences of sustained cortisol levels include a compromised immune response as well as increased inflammation in the muscle tissue, hyperglycemia, and increased abdominal fat.

Norepinephrine is both a hormone and a chemical in the brain. It is secreted by the adrenal medulla of the brain and is responsible for controlling automatic responses such as heart rate, blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Norepinephrine has an affect on parts of the brain where attention and responding actions are controlled. Norepinephrine is released when a host of physiological changes are made active by a stressful event, like breast cancer. Norepinephrine as well as epinephrine, another neurotransmitter and hormone, triggers the fight or flight or (acute stress response) of the body when frightened. The heart rate increases and triggers the release of glucose from energy stores. Blood flow to the muscle also increases.

The onset of acute stress response is connected to  specific physiological actions in the sympathetic nervous system, both directly and indirectly through the release of epinephrine and to a lesser extent norepinephrine from the medulla of the adrenal glands.

Endorphins are a category of neurotransmitters in the brain that demonstrate a pain relieving quality, giving us a sense of happiness.  Endorphins are instrumental in the fight against cancer and in the reduction of pain and blood pressure.

Recent research studies confirm the positive results from a sustained yoga practice on GABA and cortisol levels.  Studies from Yale and Washington University have shown that mindful meditation and yoga increases your brain’s levels of GABA, DHEA, melatonin, serotonin, HGH, and endorphins. Meditation and yoga effectively combats the effects of depression by reducing your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

Now that you understand some of the mechanics of stress on the body it is time to embrace  a restorative yoga practice. It is easy, relaxing and satisfying. To see some easy to learn and to do poses visit our YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/BreastCancerYoga to see for yourself.  Find a restorative yoga class near by or buy a DVD http://www.breastcanceryoga.com/Yogaforbreastcancerdvd.html You won’t regret it.


Diana RossAbout Diana Ross:  E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

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  1. I do accept as true with all of the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They’re very convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very short for novices. May just you please lengthen them a little from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.


  2. Great post. I’ve been reading Lissa Rankin’s book “Mind Over Medicine,” which deals with a similar subject.
    It’s interesting stuff.


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