The following post was an assignment as part of my teacher training program on organ health. It introduces the organ anatomy and function, discusses an organ's ailment, and provides a yoga sequence that supports and nourished the organ.
The kidneys are two, bean shaped organs located in the back of the torso just below the diaphragm that are protected by the 11th and 12th floating ribs. The kidneys filter and remove wastes from the blood, thereby producing urine, a byproduct of the filtering process. Urine travels from the kidneys through tubes called ureters and into the bladder where the urine is stored until it exits the body through the urethra. The kidneys also regulate the body’s fluid and electrolyte balance.
The adrenal glands are triangular-shaped organs that sit on top of each kidney. They are comprised of an outer cortex and an inner medulla, each with its own function. The adrenal cortex produces the hormones hydrocortisone, corticosterone, and aldosterone when it receives messages from the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. These hormones regulate how the body metabolizes fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, they raise blood sugar, suppress inflammation, and regulate immune system response. The adrenal medulla produces the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine when the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated when the body becomes stressed or encounters a threatening situation. Epinephrine and norepinephrine increase the heart rate, increase blood flow to the muscles, increase blood sugar levels, and alert the brain to danger. If the adrenal glands are constantly working without a break, the immune system is weakened and the body becomes exhausted.C
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a disease characterized by profound exhaustion, sleep abnormalities, difficultly concentrating, muscle pain, joint pain, and other symptoms that are made worse through exertion. There is no known cause and it is often denied to exist by some medical practitioners, which may also lead to depression by those experiencing it. Light, gentle exercises and stretching are recommended to individuals with CFS so as to not aggravate the symptoms. Yoga poses that access the parasympathetic nervous system can be especially helpful.
The following sequence combines a variety of poses that stimulate and massage the organs, tone the kidneys, build the muscles of the pelvic floor, and access the parasympathetic nervous system. Because kidneys are associated with the water element, some poses that stimulate heat and the fire element are integrated into the sequence to create balance.
- Sukasana – to center
- Baddha Konasana – to stimulate and circulate blood to the pelvis, abdomen, and back keeping the kidneys, prostate, and bladder healthy
- Ardha Matsyendrasana – to stimulate the kidneys by squeezing and flushing
- Adho Mukha Svanasana - to warm up the body and extend the spine
- Uttanasana – to tone the kidneys
- Utkatasana legs only – to tone the pelvic floor, stimulate the abdominal organ
- Garundasana legs only – to tone the pelvic floor
- Marichyasana III with chair standing at wall with front foot on seat of chair – to massage and tone the kidneys
- Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana with chair (see photo)- to massage and tone the kidneys, to stimulate the adrenal, thyroid, pituitary and pineal gland, to tone the bladder and pelvic floor (OR Supported Shoulderstand with the chair for the same benefit)
- Bharadvajasana with the chair, block between knees – to counterbalance the backbend, to squeeze and flush the kidneys
- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana with the torso on the bolster, strap around the calves, feet on blocks – to stimulate the kidneys, to calm the brain and access the parasympathetic nervous system
- Supta Baddha Konasana with the torso on the bolster, blocks under knees – to stimulate and circulate blood to the pelvis and kidneys, to calm the brain and access the parasympathetic nervous system
- Viparita Kirani with pelvis on bolster, legs up the wall – to stimulate and circulate blood to the pelvis and kidneys, to calm the brain and access the parasympathetic nervous system
- Savasana – to access the parasympathetic nervous system thereby integrates the practice
WebMD.com, “Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center” http://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/picture-of-the-kidneys
Kidney.org, “How Your Kidneys Work” https://www.kidney.org/kidneydisease/howkidneyswrk
Endocrineweb.org, “An Overview of the Adrenal Glands” http://www.endocrineweb.com/endocrinology/overview-adrenal-glands
WebMD.com, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Topic Overview” http://www.webmd.com/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-topic-overview
Mayoclinic.org, “Urinary Incontinence” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-incontinence/basics/definition/con-20037883
Urology Care Foundation, “What is Urinary Incontinence?” http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/urinary-incontinence
Iyengar, B.K.S., 1966. Light on Yoga.
Mehta, M. and Mehta, S., 1990. Yoga the Iyengar Way.
Schwartz, L., Transformational Teacher Training Manual.
YogaJournal.com, “Poses for Your Kidneys” http://www.yogajournal.com/category/poses/anatomy/kidneys/
Prevention.com, “Three Yoga Poses to Help Beat Your Sneaky Leak” http://www.prevention.com/fitness/yoga/yoga-poses-can-help-incontinence