You might not know what your thyroid does, but it is essential to your health and well-being. Read on to find out why you should make it a priority and how you can use yoga to keep it healthy.
What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is an endocrine gland found in the neck. It secretes two hormones into your blood: thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These hormones regulate your metabolism, which controls the speed at which your body cells work. This also has an influence on everything, from your energy levels to your skin, so it’s important to make sure that it’s well looked after.
Yoga is a great exercise for anyone with a thyroid problem as it is low impact and can improve your core muscles. This can ease muscle aches and pains that are sometimes associated with an underactive thyroid. There is also a connection between stress and thyroid problems, and it is well known that yoga can significantly relieve stress. Even if your thyroid is completely healthy, a good yoga workout can keep that health on track.
Which yoga poses are the best?
A shoulder stand is an inversion, so it stimulates the blood flow to the glands of the upper body. This is believed to improve the efficiency of the thyroid.
The plow pose generates the same kind of blood flow to the upper body, but it is slightly easier than a shoulder stand. This may be particularly useful if you are a yoga beginner or if you are recovering after diagnosis of a thyroid problem.
The fish pose will balance your body after the inversion of a shoulder stand or a plow pose.
This pose, sometimes known as the legs-up-the-wall pose, is also good for restoring your balance. It is an inversion, but it does not put pressure on the neck, and the support of the wall allows you to be passive in the pose, achieving relaxation.
The movement involved in the cat-cow pose is also believed to stimulate your thyroid as it brings blood flow to the area.
Like the cat-cow pose, the camel pose increases the circulation to the thyroid and generates a gentle backbend.
This is a gentler way to stimulate the thyroid as it does not have the intensity of the poses which tilt your head all the way back.
Shavasana is the ultimate pose for achieving complete relaxation. Whilst it seems easy to lie down, it actually involves considering the opening up of the heart and the letting go of tension throughout the body. You could choose to take part in a guided meditation to relieve the stresses of the day even further.
Are there other elements of yoga that can help?
Yes! Pranayama (control of breath) can help us to relieve stress and to generate positive energy within the body. The next time you are meditating or taking part in a yoga class, take extra care to use yogic breathing. This calms the central nervous system as well as your mind.