It seems like every city block and town center you see these days has a yoga studio and everyone is carting around their yoga mats. Why is that? Because yoga can have a multitude of health benefits. Athletes, even pro football players, do yoga because it increases strength and flexibility—and that’s just the start. The deeper benefit of yoga practice is the sense of calm and well-being that it can produce.
Not only does yoga support the parasympathetic nervous system, it can support hormone balance—including thyroid hormones. Deep breathing is an integral part of yoga practice. Each movement is coordinated with an inhale or exhale. Doing the postures without the accompanying slow breaths misses the mark of the practice. As Baron Baptiste, famous yogi to the stars, says in his classes, “No breath, no yoga.”
Deep breathing slows the production of the hormone cortisol and this makes yoga particularly good for calming our nervous system. For those with hypothyroidism, which is essentially a hormone deficiency, specific yoga poses increase blood-flow to the thyroid gland. Some scientific research even points to yoga practice positively impacting thyroid health.
Additionally, many yoga experts believe there is a strong connection between the chakras, or energy centers of the body, and specific health issues. For anxiety, Lori Mayer, yoga instructor and owner of State of Grace yoga studio, recommends yoga postures that help open the root chakra and the heart chakra.
Below are several yoga postures that can help balance the hormones of our nervous system and thyroid glands. (Note: Before beginning any new physical activity, always check with your medical doctor. Use caution if you have a history of back, neck or spinal injuries or pain.)
This grounding pose promotes a sense of emotional well-being and resilience. It’s a simple yet powerful pose that gives one a stable foundation for further yoga practice.
This pose can be done on the floor or even in bed. Be sure to have some kind of padding under your knees. This pose opens the heart chakra (good for anxiety) as well as the throat chakra which is connected to the thyroid.
Fish pose opens the chest and throat and increases blood flow to the thyroid gland. (NOTE: This pose should not be done if you have neck or spinal injuries.)
Many poses that stimulate the thyroid gland and increase blood flow to the area are not recommended for people with neck or shoulder injuries. Bow pose offers a gentler alternative while increase core stability.
They really ought to come up with a better name for this one—cloud pose or bliss pose seem about right. This is usually the last pose done in a yoga class, and just about every yoga teacher tells their students not to skip this pose at home. Savasana allows your body and mind to integrate the work you’ve done in other poses, while giving you an opportunity for deep relaxation.
Taking time to practice yoga poses gives us a chance to step off the carousel of stress we’re so often riding and allows us a few moments to relax and recharge. If you try some of these poses, prepare for an increased sense of calm, well-being, and healthier endocrine functioning—something that makes everything better. Yoga, when paired with specialized thyroid care can get you back to feeling your best.
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