The thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. It is located in the neck, just below the Adam's Apple. The thyroid gland directs hormonal function and regulates metabolism. It produces and secretes hormones that influence almost every cell of the body. These hormones play a crucial role in burning fat.
Metabolism is the rate at which you burn calories; therefore by stimulating the thyroid gland you increase metabolism and the rate that you burn calories.
Many studies show that certain yoga poses help stimulate the thyroid gland. Yoga poses stretch, twist and compress the body, which has a positive effect on the entire endocrine system. This is done by improving blood flow to the glands as well as massaging them which aids in regulating their function. By simply turning the body upside down we allow blood to flow into the neck and head at a faster rate, which nourishes the thyroid on a cellular level.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland becomes under-active and this results in a lack of sufficient hormone production. People with this condition will have a slow rate of metabolism. Estimates vary, but approximately 10 million Americans have this medical condition. As many as 10% of woman may have some level of thyroid hormone deficiency.
The most effective yoga pose for the thyroid is Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) or Viparita Karani (Modified Shoulder Stand). This pose is an inversion. In this pose we raise our legs above our heads, which brings blood to the neck area. In shoulder stand a lot of pressure is put on the thyroid by bringing the chin very close to the throat compressing the neck. When you come out of this pose circulation is improved and the neck is full of oxygen-rich blood, which both stimulates and strengthens the thyroid.
Many other yoga poses can be recommended to stimulate the thyroid gland. These involve the neck either moving forward or back.
Yoga Poses That Stimulate The Thyroid:
- Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
- Halasana (Plough Pose)
- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
- Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
- Simhasana (Lion Pose)
Viparita Karani (Modified Shoulder Stand)
Lye on your back with buttocks close to the wall and extend your legs up the wall. You can start with your hips against the wall first and then swivel around. You can place a pillow or blanket under your hips to elevate them. When the hips are elevated the chin comes closer to the throat thereby putting more compression on the thyroid gland. This is best practiced for a minimum of 10 minutes. Viparita karani also calms the nervous system and is recommended for insomnia.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
Lye on your back with you knees bent and feet on the floor. Make sure your feet are in alignment with your hips. Your feet should be approximately a few inches from your buttocks or so you can touch your heels with the tips of your fingers. Arms are along side the body. Bring your shoulder blades together on the floor. Press your feet into the floor to lift up your hips, thighs and chest. Lift your sternum towards your chin. Clasp your hands together under your pelvis and extend your arms long on the floor. Snuggle your shoulder blades a bit closer if you can. Feel an inner rotation of the thighs. Make sure the legs stay in alignment with the hips. A modification is to keep the arms by the side of your body palms down. A restorative Bridge Pose can also be practiced by placing a yoga block under your sacrum. Hold for a few breaths and then gently come down and rest. Can be repeated three times.