Thyroid disorders are quite common in people all across the world. The thyroid is a small gland in the throat which secretes hormones. Hormones secreted by the thyroid gland are responsible for the body's metabolism, temperature and growth. There are basically two kinds of thyroid disorders: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. While the former is characterized by the thyroid gland being unable to produce enough thyroid hormones, the latter occurs as a result of the thyroid gland releasing too much hormones. It is important to know that Yoga can not cure but can help maintain and improve thyroid function. Yoga is a complementary therapy and should not be used as a replacement for your existing medical therapy. The chakra associated with thyroid gland is the throat or Vishuddhi chakra. Thus most of the asanas that are recommended for thyroid regulation are considered throat-stimulating and focus on increasing circulation and energy flow around the throat and neck area. The practice of Yoga is also known as a stress-buster and has been proven to restore mind-body balance. Thus there has been research and studies conducted to assess the effect of yoga practice on thyroid functions. Yoga poses can help in strengthening muscles and also reducing effects of hypothyroidism on the body. People suffering from hyperthyroidism should avoid neck-stretching asanas. They should opt for breathing exercises like pryanama.
To understand how yoga can maintain and improve thyroid we need to understand why people suffer from hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Through the hormones it produces, the thyroid gland influences almost all of the metabolic processes in our body. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Too much thyroid hormone results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism.Although the effects can be unpleasant or uncomfortable. All types of hyperthyroidism are due to an overproduction of thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism, by contrast, stems from an underproduction of thyroid hormones. Since our body's energy production requires certain amounts of thyroid hormones, a drop in hormone production leads to lower energy levels. Individuals who are in the risk zone of this condition are:
- Being female
- Being over age 60
- Recent pregnancy
- Having an autoimmune disease (such as type 1 diabetes)
- Family history of thyroid disease or autoimmune disease
- Personal history of thyroid problems, like goiter (an abnormally large thyroid gland) or having had thyroid surgery
Here are some poses one can try for combating thyroid. Most of these poses are considered throat-stimulating. They’re thought to improve circulation and energy flow around the thyroid, and stretch and strengthen the neck.
1. Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose)
This asana involves being upside down with support from the shoulder. The inversion performed in this asana helps direct blood flow to the throat. This is beneficial yoga for hypothyroid problems.
- lie down flat on the back
- place a folded towel or blanket under the shoulders to support them
- bring the shoulders to the edge of the towel while resting the head on the mat
- place the arms on either side with palms facing down
- press arms and back firmly into the floor
- Lift your legs while breathing in. Take it to a right angle from the ground.
- Now lift your legs upward while pushing on the shoulders and breathing out.
- Press your hands into your lower back to extend support to the hips.
- Make sure to have a strong core by pulling the stomach inside.
- Keep the legs and body in a straight line with chin tucked into your chest.
- Breathe in and out deeply for three counts before lowering your legs back down.
- Keep your core tight throughout.
2. Halasana (Plough Pose)
This exercise gives compression to the neck thereby, stimulating the abdominal and thyroid glands. It also calms the brain and reduces stress and fatigue.The pose resembles to the Indian plough, hence it is called Halasana.
- Lie down on a mat while keeping your head, legs, palms, and elbows firmly to the floor.
- Raise your legs till they are perpendicular to the floor.
- Push your legs toward the floor behind your head until they touch the floor.
- Hold this asana for a minute while breathing deeply.
- You can add support to your waist by pressing your hands against them while lifting your body with your elbows.
3. Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
It stretches your neck hence stimulating the thyroid glands. This asana provides gentle healing suited to the needs of thyroid patients, lowers stress levels and reduces the stiffness of muscles and joints. It helps in relaxing the body and preventing mood swings and depression which thyroid might cause.
- Sit on your buttocks with your legs extended in front of you.
- Move to one side at a time so you can place your hands underneath your buttocks.
- Face your palms down and your fingers facing toward your toes.
- Draw your elbows into each other and open your chest.
- Slowly lean back onto your forearms and elbows.
- Again, open your chest as much as possible and press into your arms to stay lifted.
- Drop your head back if you feel comfortable.
- Release by lifting your head, releasing your hands, and lying down on your back.
The bow pose known as Dhanurasana helps by massaging the thyroid gland. It is helpful to treat hypothyroidism by stimulating hormone production. This asana also helps in relieving menstrual pain, strengthening the back, and reducing stress.
- Lie on your stomach with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by the side of your body.
- Fold your knees, take your hands backward and hold your ankles.
- Breathing in, lift your chest off the ground and pull your legs up and back.
- Look straight ahead with a smile on your face.
- Keep the pose stable while paying attention to your breath. Your body is now curved and taut as a bow.
- Continue to take long deep breaths as you relax in this pose. But bend only as far as your body permits you to. Do not overdo the stretch.
- After 15 -20 seconds, as you exhale, gently bring your legs and chest to the ground. Release the ankles and relax.
5. Sethu Bandhasana (bridge pose)
If you are able to perform the bridge pose successfully, you will be able to stretch your neck to quite and extent and activate the thyroid glands. It helps in calming the brain, reducing anxiety and improving the digestion system.
- Lie down flat on your back
- Bend the legs at the knees slowly. Stretch out your arms now to touch your heels.
- Rest your arms and head against the ground. Lift the upper body so that the buttocks remain off the ground.
- The top part of your body will now resemble a bridge.
- Stay for 5 minutes while breathing consistently.
6. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Cobra pose brings gentle stimulation to the thyroid gland. It’s not as intense as some poses that have you tilting your head all the way back. That said, it’s okay to fully release your neck in this pose and let it drop back. Do this only if it feels comfortable.
- Lie on your stomach and rest your palm on the ground.
- Now lift your upper body into a snake-like stance.
- Bend your head completely backwards.
- Stay in this position for a few minutes.
7. Sirshasana (Headstand Pose)
It is one of the finest yoga postures as it helps in managing acts directly on the thyroid glands. It aids in balancing the metabolic functions and brings wakefulness and alertness in body.
- To begin, sit in Vajrasana on the sticky mat or use a folded blanket.
- Now, move Balasana(Child pose) with your two fists stacked and forehead between both fists. and kneel down.
- Interlock the fingers tightly, the hand should be coupled kind of equilateral triangle. (It’s a base crown for your head support).
- By moving the knees towards the head, bring your head between the palm of the hands. while keeping forearms on the mat.
- Raise your buttocks with the knees from the floor.
- Now, slowly rise to perpendicular your legs upwards from the floor. and ensuring that Your back should be straight.
- Close the eyes by breathing slowly and deeply
- In this final pose to stay focus on breathing as much as possible. as a beginning, practitioner stays only for 10 seconds. after a good practice, you can increase time.
- Now slowly release pose to come back bend your knees and lower down your legs one by one.
- Rest in Balasana (Child pose).
With the increasing prevalence of thyroid disorders today, there are numerous treatment options available to patients. Of course, every treatment would take time to show results, but the good thing is Yoga and meditation can help treat thyroid naturally. A few minutes of yoga practice daily helps reduce stress and also make your life smoother and happier. Yoga and meditation can help in relieving a lot of issues associated with thyroid. A stressful lifestyle can be a major contributor to thyroid but it can be managed by indulging in peaceful yoga sessions every morning.
While it may not be able to cure the condition instantly, it can help in keeping the glands healthy and regulate metabolism, thereby preventing any further complications. A study stated that 6 months of intense yoga helped women with hypothyroidism and reduced their need for thyroxine medication. Yoga poses can help in strengthening muscles and also reducing effects of hypothyroidism on the body.
Yoga helps in not only keeping thyroid healthy, but they also in boosting your health keeping you hale and hearty. Latest researches also support Yoga and breathing technique (Pranayama) to be two of the best methods to control your any type of diseases.
Some of the Yoga gurus suggest that meditation plays an important role in keeping your hormonal level normal. We know very well that hormones get disturbed during various human emotions such as anger and love. Meditation helps controlling brain chemicals and neurotransmission. There are various types of meditations and you can perform any of one that gives you peace of mind. Meditation along with Yoga brings stability in the mind, body and soul.
Adding some or all of the yoga poses listed above to your routine may help to improve your thyroid function.
It is important to address this problem and include yoga and meditation to our daily lives to improve our chaotic lifestyles and treat our diseases and conditions naturally as yoga not only improves your flexibility and tone the muscles of yourbody but it also helps you to improve coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores.