Thyroid disorders are common at all ages, from a child to an adult. Very often, the fundamental issue of thyroid disorders occurs due to an underlying health condition. Yoga has been a preventive therapy to overcome and treat thyroid disorders. First and foremost, however, one needs to consult a doctor to ascertain the exact conditions and problems.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. The gland wraps around the wind pipe called Trachea and has a shape that is similar to a butterfly formed by two wings or lobes and attached by a middle part called Isthmus. The sternothyroid and the sternohyoid (neck muscles) are the muscles that prevent movements of trachea during breathing.
The change of muscle tone massages the thyroid gland. This stimulates the release of stored thyroid gland hormones into the blood stream. The thyroid is regulated by another gland located in the brain, called the Pituitary Gland.
The thyroid gland works like a tiny factory that uses iodine to produce thyroid hormones. These hormones help to regulate the body’s metabolism and effects processes, such as growth and other important functions of the body.
The gland produces thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolic rate, to see how fast calories are consumed and to produce energy. Thyroid hormones are important in regulating body energy, body temperature, the body’s use of other hormones and vitamins for the growth and maturation of body tissues.
Diseases of the thyroid gland can result in either production of too much (overactive thyroid disease or hyperthyroidism), too little (under active thyroid disease or hypothyroidism) thyroid hormone, thyroid nodules (toxic nodules) and goiter (enlargement of the thyroid). Thyroid problems are also much more common in women than in men. The three most common thyroid problems are underactive thyroid, overactive thyroid, and thyroid nodules.
There are many different reasons for the malfunctions of thyroid glands:
• Inflammation of the thyroid gland after pregnancy
• Medications that affect thyroid function
• Overactive thyroid
• Toxic nodule
• Excessive intake of iodine
• Thyroid hormone resistance
• Acute thyroiditis
• Autoimmune thyroiditis
Symptoms of thyroid problems depend on the age of the person and the exact problem with the thyroid. Thyroid hormones are essential to the regulation of metabolism and other functions of the body. If thyroid hormone levels are not in a normal range, signs and symptoms of thyroid disease may occur.
Common symptoms include:
• Feeling excessively cold
• Heat intolerance
• Stiffness in muscles and joints and aches
• Intellectual ability worsens
• Fatigue and exhaustion
• Rapid heart beat
• Weight loss
• Shorter or lighter menstrual periods
Asanas and pranayama help maintain proper function of the thyroid glands and prevent problems from getting worse. For example, Sarvangasana and Halasana nourish the thyroid gland. Blood circulation improves in the inverted pose and in all asanas causing movements of the cervical spine. Pranayama, on the other hand, regulates the prana and the hormonal balance in the body.
1. Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
1. Lie flat on the back with legs stretched out, with the arms on the side of the legs.
2. Exhale, bend the knees and raise the hips up and legs straight.
3. Keep the palms holding against the back and raise the pelvis over the shoulders, so that the torso is perpendicular to the floor.
4. Bring the elbows slightly closer to each other and keep the legs up straight over the torso. Press the back of the upper arms and keep the shoulders firm and active without giving pressure on the neck.
5. Stay in this pose for about 30 seconds to a minute initially and gradually increase the timing if comfortable.
Benefit: This pose activates the thyroid gland, helps to relieve stress and depression, keeps the focus on the soft and slow breathing on the throat.
2. Viparita Karani (Half Shoulder Stand)
1. Lie flat on the back, with legs stretched straight.
2. Inhale, bend the knees, pressing the palms down on floor, raise the hips up towards the ceiling.
3. When the whole trunk is raised off the ground, bend the elbows and place the palms on the back of the pelvis. The
weight of the body is rested on the palms, elbows and upper arms.
4. Keep the legs straight and relaxed or slightly bend the knees if necessary.
5. Stay for about 2-5 minutes with normal breath.
Benefit: This pose is good for beginners before trying Salamba Sarvangasana. This calms the mind and improves proper circulation of the prana in the entire body and regulates the secretion of the thyroid hormones.
3. Halasana (Plow Pose)
1. After performing Salamba Sarvangasana, exhale and lower both legs behind the head.
2. Stretch the legs down to the floor with toes pointed.
3. Keep the pelvis up above the shoulders so the legs are fully extended.
4. Stay in this pose for about 1-5 minutes comfortably with soft breathing awareness on the throat.
Benefit: This pose stimulates the abdominal organs and has the maximum benefit for the thyroid gland.
4. Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
1. Sit in a comfortable posture like Padmasana (lotus pose) or Sukhasana (Easy pose).
2. Place a bolster behind the back.
3. Now bend the elbows slowly and rest the middle back on the bolster, with an open chest and the neck stretched
4. The seat and the forearms are firm, so the chest is lifted comfortably.
5. Stay in the pose for about 5 normal breaths.
Benefit: This stretches and stimulates the organs of the belly and the front throat. This pose massages the thyroid glands.
5. Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
1. Kneel on the floor with knees slightly apart and toes pointed back.
2. Rest the palms on the hips and lift up the chest.
3. Exhale, place the right palm on the right heel; and the left palm on the left heel.
4. Now with palms pressing onto the feet, push the hips forward and arch backwards.
5. Contract the buttocks and stretch the neck backwards.
6. Stay in the pose for 5 normal breaths.
Benefit: This pose stimulates the kidneys, pancreas and thyroids glands.
6. Nirakunja Asana (Chest Down Pose)
1. Lie flat on the floor facing downwards.
2. Bend the elbows and place the palms on the sides of the waist.
3. Walk the knees slightly forward, lifting up the hips while pressing the chest completely on the floor. The chin is down and
the neck is stretched forward, opening the chest.
4. Beginners can stay here. If possible, bend the knees and catch the shin with the hands.
5. Stay in this pose for 20-30 seconds.
Benefit: This pose stretches the neck muscles which controls the function of the thyroid glands.
8. Jalandhara Bandha (Chin Lock Gesture)
1. Sit in a comfortable posture like Padmasana or Sukhasana. Keep the back erect and rigid.
2. Stretch the arms out and rest the back of the wrist on the knee. Let the thumb touch the left index finger in Jnana Mudra.
3. Lower the head to the trunk. Rest the chin in the notch between the collarbones just above the breastbone, while keeping
the chest lifted towards the chin.
4. If the neck feels tired or stiff, place a small towel between the chin and the collar bones.
5. Keep the chin locked in a comfortable position. Perform five rounds of Ujjayi Pranayama (victorious breathing).
6. Take a slow and steady breath through the nostril and exhale slow and steadily with a hissing sound on the throat.
Benefit: It improves the lung capacity and the functions of thyroid gland with the smooth flow of prana. This gives rest to the
brain nervous cells.