Yoga for Thyroid: A Holistic Approach
Yoga has far-reaching benefits beyond the mere cosmetic ones. Besides being viewed as a reflection of ancient values and knowledge, yoga is also popular among Gen X, millennials and Gen Z and Alpha. In other words, yoga is popular amongst all. It is no longer associated with the middle-aged, fitness shy neighbour only. The age-old practice of yoga, pranayama and a disciplined approach towards food and sleep reduces stress. It brings a sense of calmness and harmony. In addition, a study shows that yoga can improve flexibility, mental health, and quality of life. In a way, yoga is a holistic approach for thyroid problems and all other lifestyle diseases.
Contrary to popular belief, yoga is not only about postures and asanas. It fights fatigue, improves heart health, helps with insomnia, and relieves arthritis pain. Additionally, it helps prevent further complications and can relieve thyroid symptoms. Since yoga brings in an alignment between mind, body and soul, it has no harmful side effects when you practice it under the guidance of a teacher. You can practice a few simple postures and asanas. They can treat hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism by nourishing and stimulating the thyroid gland’s healthy functioning. All you need is just a bit of space to unroll that yoga mat and get started.
Yoga to Treat Thyroid
Regular practice of yoga is a simple yet effective method for correcting thyroid. Research shows that having a personal yoga routine helps in reducing stress hormone levels, which is also beneficial for thyroid health. However, yoga can not be a complete substitute for medication. If you’re consistently practising it for longer periods, then it can reduce your dependence on medication.
There are beneficial yoga postures that stimulate blood circulation around the thyroid area. It, in turn, effectively eases thyroid problems. Furthermore, a study shows that adding yoga poses to your exercise routine helps regulate thyroid hormone levels, followed by a significant reduction in bad cholesterol levels.
Six Yoga Asanas to Help Manage and Treat Thyroid 1. Sarvangasana
Sarvangasana, also called shoulder standing pose, mainly focuses on the endocrine system. Since the thyroid gland is a part of the endocrine system, the yoga pose is perfect for thyroid gland issues. It is well known as the ‘Queen of Asanas’ and works by putting pressure on the thyroid gland. It also nourishes and increases the efficiency of thyroid functioning. Therefore, it is an ideal yoga pose for people with hypothyroidism.
Steps of Sarvangasana
- Lie flat on your back with arms suspended on the sides. Keep the palms facing down and legs together.
- While inhaling, slowly and steadily lift your legs to ninety degrees. Position your elbows to support your body weight.
- Slowly exhale while bringing your legs over the head.
- The legs must be parallel to the wall, and the toes should point towards the ceiling.
- Take your time to get adjusted to the pose. You can use your palms to support the torso and its weight. Do not put weight on the head or neck as it can cause injuries.
- Keep the neck in a single position and tuck your chin towards the chest.
- Try to hold the position for another 30 to 60 seconds. Slowly exhale and then come back to a neutral position.
Shavasana, also called corpse pose, is for deep relaxation. It is a compulsory yoga pose for winding up the session. Shavasana helps reduce the thyroid symptoms, such as anxiety, fatigue, and headache. It also helps to lower blood pressure, calm the central nervous system, and promote higher consciousness. It is an ideal yoga pose for people with hyperthyroidism.
Steps of Shavasana
- Lie flat on your back. Be comfortable with making the shoulder and neck muscles relax.
- Keep a wide gap between the legs and rest the arms on each side of your body.
- The eyes should be closed, and the palm must face upwards.
- Synchronise your breathing and equally concentrate from head to toe.
- Lie still for about 10-20 minutes and let go of unnecessary thoughts
- Feel the deep relaxation arising out of the meditative state
3. Setu Bandhasana
Setu Bandhasana, popularly known as bridge pose, is a backbend posture. It helps in thyroid hormone regulation, thereby benefiting thyroid health. It also improves the blood circulation around the thyroid gland region as the posture involves neck stretching. Although you may find it difficult to attain perfection in Setu Bandhasana, it is ideal for patients with hyperthyroidism.
Steps of Setu Bandhasana
- Lie flat on the ground with arms at your sides.
- Lift your hip upwards by bending the legs at the knees. Make sure to lift the buttocks and upper body.
- Maintain the position with the help of pressing your palms without exerting any pressure on the shoulders, neck, or chin.
- Keep breathing deeply while remaining in this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Relax your hips to withdraw back to the starting position. Repeat the cycle 3-4 times.
Bhujangasana, also called the cobra pose, is a type of back-bending asana. It helps with thyroid problems by stretching the neck and throat region. It, in turn, improves the blood flow towards it and increases thyroid functioning. Furthermore, Bhujangasana removes stress and pressure exerted on the thyroid. Therefore, it is suitable for people suffering from hypothyroidism.
Steps of Bhujangasana
- Lie flat on your stomach with palms facing downwards and hands right beside the ribcage region.
- Slowly inhale and lift the upper portion of your body. Only lift till the naval region. In other words, lift your shoulders, chest, and neck by keeping the stomach pressed on the ground.
- Keep the elbows pointing outward. Only a slight bend is required while positioning the elbows.
- Look upward and breathe normally. Maintain the posture for at least 30 seconds.
- Slowly release the pose and lie back flat on your stomach.
Matsyasana or the fish pose demands a back arch posture to relieve muscle tension and improve blood circulation. It helps stimulate the thyroid gland. Moreover, it corrects your posture by stretching the abdomen, shoulder, and chest. Matsyasana is a perfect yoga asana for hypothyroidism.
Steps of Matsyasana
- First, sit in Lotus Posture. Then, slowly bend backwards without disturbing the Lotus Posture. Use your elbows and forearm to support your body while bending backwards.
- Lift the chest upward and arch your back to the maximum comfortable extent.
- Gradually raise your arms and hold your toes.
- Breathe slowly and hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds. You can increase the duration according to your capacity.
Marjariasana, also called cat stretch, is great for the throat and thyroid gland. It is a great stretch form of yoga to normalise thyroid function. In addition, Marjariasana also relieves fatigue and weakness associated with the thyroid. The longer you perform this asana, the more beneficial it can be for the thyroid.
Steps of Marjariasana
- Get on all fours, like a cat. Keep your weight evenly distributed on the knees and hands.
- Focus straight and raise your chin.
- Make an outward and inward arch on the back while inhaling and exhaling. Position the back in a concave shape.
- The belly button must go in during exhalation.
- Do it in multiple rounds at your convenience.
Four Yoga Asanas to Help Prevent Thyroid
The compressing and stretching yoga poses are ideal for preventing thyroid disorders. However, pairing it with thyroid friendly foods gives you the most benefit. Here are the top four yoga asanas that improve your thyroid function and prevent abnormalities.
Urdhva Dhanurasana or wheel pose gives you energy. As the neck opens during this pose, more energy flows towards the thyroid area. Subsequently, it improves its function and prevents diseases.
Steps for Urdhva Dhanurasana
- Lie flat on your back. Position your hand next to your head so that the elbows point towards the ceiling.
- While exhaling, slowly lift your tailbone and buttocks.
- Keep your thighs strong while pressing the ground equally through your feet and hands.
- Slowly hang your neck back so that the tension in the throat is released.
Stress is considered the critical factor behind most thyroid disorders. Performing Ujjayi Pranayama for a few minutes daily can reduce everyday stress and prevent thyroid problems. It also keeps the mind calm.
Steps for Ujjayi Pranayama
- Sit in a meditative pose and breathe slowly through the nostrils.
- Contract your throat while breathing and feel the air touching your throat.
- Keep your mouth closed and use your diaphragm to control your breathing.
- Exhale through your mouth by making a ‘haaa’ sound.
Nispanda Bhava is one of the most powerful relaxation techniques in yoga. It is a regular yoga posture that works well for hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Steps for Nispanda Bhava
- Sit against a wall with legs comfortably stretched wide and hips touching the wall.
- Keep the spine straight and relaxed.
- Rest your lower arms on the thighs with palms facing the ceiling.
- Slowly close your eyes, and do not let your mind wander. Instead, let it fade out to a peaceful state.
- Maintain this posture for at least 5 minutes. Then, you can hold it for a maximum of 15 minutes.
Ustrasana or camel pose is perfect for stimulating the thyroid gland and improving blood flow. It is an easy yoga posture to keep your thyroid gland healthy and active. In addition, this yoga pose gives a calm and soothing effect.
Steps for Ustrasana
- Stand on your knees and keep the legs hip-width apart.
- As you inhale, arch your back and draw in your tailbone towards the pubis.
- Keep your palms over your feet and make the arms straight. Do not strain your neck while doing so.
- Hold the position for a couple of breaths.
Yoga for Thyroid: Precautions
All yoga postures become simple with practice. However, some precautions are to keep in mind while performing them during the initial days. Sometimes it may not be for everyone.
What to Avoid During Yoga?
- Do not practise yoga on a full stomach. Instead, do it daily on an empty stomach. If you have had a light meal, do the asanas after 3-4 hours. Wait at least four hours if you’ve had a heavy meal.
- Do not go by the information available on the web blindly. It is always good to take advice from a professional when you have a health issue.
- Sometimes the illness may be the same, but the repercussions can differ. One size does not fit all. In a few instances, the postures and asanas can worsen certain other pre-existing health conditions like pain, injuries etc.
- Practice without overstraining the facial muscles, eyes, and ears.
- Never hold the yoga pose for longer than you can endure.
- If you’re a beginner, only do a couple of poses at a time. Do not go straight for intense postures on the first try.
- Do not practice yoga if you’re in a state of illness, exhaustion, or hurry. Instead, always practice them by taking time.
- Practice yoga in a balanced and relaxed environment. Do not perform it in adverse weather conditions, especially if uncomfortable.
- Do not practice asanas without taking a bath or cleaning yourselves. A bath before yoga makes it more enjoyable, and you’ll feel more refreshed.
Who Should Avoid Yoga?
- People who have undergone abdominal surgery should not perform Bhujangasana. It is advised not to put any pressure on as the body is vulnerable after surgery.
- Women should refrain from asanas during periods. However, one can perform pranayama and simple relaxation techniques. Menstruating women must avoid inverted postures not to distort the natural blood flow.
- Pregnant women must be extra careful while doing yoga. For example, avoid doing backwards bends, inverted postures, or stretch ups. They should also avoid vigorous pranayama and pelvic rotations.
- People with lower back problems must be careful while doing yoga. Despite popular belief, specific yoga postures make the back pain worse. If you’re an older adult with severe back problems, refrain from doing shoulder stand, continuous standing postures, full wheel pose, and boat pose.
- People with high blood pressure or hypertension must avoid headstand, forearm stand, shoulder stand, and other rigorous inverted poses. It would cause sudden blood flow towards the head, which is not safe for high blood pressure people.
The rise in thyroid disorders is more or less related to the stressful lifestyle. Yoga, one of the famous healing routines in today’s world, stands as an easy method to treat thyroid naturally. It brings down stress hormone levels, the critical causative agent for thyroid problems. Daily yoga practice improves the thyroid condition and helps cope with the symptoms better. It’s also essential to follow a healthy diet to reap maximum benefits.
Performing regular, intermediate level yoga poses can also help prevent thyroid disease. You may try Ustrasana, Nispanda Bhava, Ujjayi Pranayama, or Urdhva Dhanurasana. There are yoga asanas for people with existing thyroid conditions. However, yoga needs to be practised with extra safety if you have other medical conditions. But at the end of the day, incorporating a few minutes of yoga in your daily routine offers you a healthier mind, better flexibility, stronger bones, and much more.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Q. Can yoga cure thyroid permanently?
A. No, yoga cannot cure the thyroid permanently. It usually helps you to cope better with thyroid symptoms. Regularly performing it can bring down stress, a common cause of thyroid. Yoga is a good practice to reduce your dependence on thyroid medication. However, it is not a permanent cure.
Q. Is ginger and garlic good for the thyroid?
A. The antioxidative properties of ginger helps to keep the thyroid hormones in control. It is also rich in magnesium and potassium, which prevents inflammation, one of the leading causes of thyroid problems. However, you must avoid excess intake. Garlic also shows therapeutic effects on inflammation, but it’s not an effective remedy for the thyroid.
Q. Is coriander good for the thyroid?
A. Yes, coriander is good for thyroid health due to its rich vitamin and mineral content. It is a part of the Ayurvedic medicines, which help heal and improve thyroid diseases. Drinking coriander water can also help with thyroid hormonal imbalance. You can easily make it by soaking two teaspoons of coriander seeds in a glass of water and keeping it overnight.
Q. Which fruit is good for the thyroid?
A. Fruits that are rich in antioxidants are the best for the thyroid. It can include fresh fruits like apples, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, and avocados. Eating oranges and pineapple provides relief from thyroid symptoms. Make sure to eat them in moderation as fruits are considered high in sugar.
Q. How can I check my thyroid at home?
A. The best way is to check if you have any thyroid symptoms, especially neck swelling and unexplained weight fluctuations. At-home thyroid tests are also available to measure hormone levels. You can put a blood sample into the test trip and return the kit for lab examination. Even though you can do a simple self-check at home, it is always preferred to seek professional medical help.
Q. What if the thyroid is not treated?
A. If left untreated, thyroid problems cause further health complications. It can give rise to heart disease, infertility, joint pain, nerve damage, and obesity. In severe cases, it might even be fatal. In addition, untreated thyroid negatively impacts the overall quality of life. Thus, it is crucial to get medical help.
Q. Does thyroid cause stomach pain?
A. Yes, thyroid issues can cause stomach pain because it triggers abnormal bacterial growth in the small intestine. It gradually develops into stomach pain, abdominal discomfort, and poor absorption.