Yoga is an integrated system of Asanas, Pranayama, and Meditation. All these practices have therapeutic use in managing various causes of thyroid disorders including hypothyroidism & hyperthyroidism. For example, in certain yoga poses the region around the neck is contracted and expanded in a rhythmic manner. It helps regulate the functioning of the thyroid gland.
Thyroid gland perfectly justifies the quote that, “good things come in small packages.”
This is a small butterfly-shaped gland tangled around the windpipe in the neck releases thyroid hormones. These are the major hormones that stimulate metabolism, growth, and development that justifies its significance. Any imbalance in the thyroid hormone is an open invitation to many bodily disorders.
Yoga and meditation experts suggest that yoga for the thyroid is a proven remedial practice for thyroid issues.
How yoga is beneficial for thyroid health?
In a therapeutic view, thyroid disorder is a psychosomatic disease that arises due to disharmony in mind-body coordination. According to yogic science, Chitta’s Vrittis gives rise to an imbalance in mind-body coordination that also affects thyroid health.
American thyroid association [efn_note] Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Thyroid Disease (CAM) https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-disease-cam/ [/efn_note] says Yoga as a ‘mind-body exercise’ can be practiced as a complementary and alternative medicine approach in thyroid disorders.
A 2014 yoga intervention study [efn_note] The Effect of Yogic Practices on Thyroid Functions https://www.worldwidejournals.com/indian-journal-of-applied-research-(IJAR)/file.php?val=July_2014_1404224915__165.pdf [/efn_note] shows that practicing yoga daily for 1 hour for one month has brought significant changes in hormone levels of individuals having thyroid disorders. In this study, changes in three thyroid hormones Tri-iodothyronine, Tetra-iodothyronine, and Thyroid-stimulating Hormone (TSH) have noticed successfully after one month of practice.
Yoga reduces the dependency on thyroxine requirements in individuals suffering from hypothyroidism. In a study [efn_note] Effect of 6 months intense Yoga practice on lipid profile, thyroxine medication and serum TSH level in women suffering from hypothyroidism: A pilot study https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27054602/ [/efn_note], the results show the effect of 6 months of yoga practice is proven to be effective in reducing weight, dyslipidemia, depression and it brings balance to the autonomous nervous system. It reduces thyroxine requirement and serum TSH in women suffering from hypothyroidism.
Moreover, yoga includes prevention and cure of thyroid in the following ways:
- Yoga helps in alleviating and relieving major symptoms including relieving fatigue, muscle pain.
- It regulates hormonal flow and any other disorders arising due to it.
- The Pranayama like ‘Ujjayi and Bhastrika’ and yoga poses help bringing relaxation and relieving stress that majorly affects the thyroid gland.
- Yoga for thyroid includes most of the neck stretching poses which stimulates the thyroid gland and cures it in the long run.
Yoga Poses for Thyroid
Many poses of yoga can be helpful in stimulating the thyroid gland by creating gentle pressure around the throat area, For example, bridge pose, fish pose, cobra pose, etc. These poses may also improve the blood circulation in the entire neck which helps the thyroid gland work better.
Yoga poses for thyroid can further be classified for a specific thyroid condition, poses for Hypothyroidism (overactive thyroid), and poses for Hyperthyroidism (underactive thyroid). While most of the yoga poses works effectively for the thyroid, individuals should choose poses according to an overactive or underactive thyroid.
Yoga Poses for Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a thyroid condition when the secretion of hormones from the thyroid gland gets reduced. Its common symptoms include tiredness, weight gain, slow movements and thoughts, and muscle cramps [efn_note] Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) symptoms https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/underactive-thyroid-hypothyroidism/symptoms/ [/efn_note].
In Hypothyroidism, some yoga poses are beneficial in which stretching of the throat area happens by compression and extension of throat muscles. These poses can increase blood flow in this region. It improves reflex pathways within the throat and gives stimulation to the underactive thyroid gland.
Plow pose is the best pose for thyroid disorders in order to induce stimulation in the thyroid gland. It compresses the neck region while lying on the back, when the legs are lifted, and drawn over the head until the toes touch the floor.
This pose triggers the proper secretion of thyroid hormones that helps in getting rid of thyroid disorders.
- Lie down in supine position extending the arms on the floor by the sides.
- Lift your legs off the floor dragging them beyond your head so that the toes reach the floor.
- Clasp your hands behind your back and stay in the pose for five deep breaths.
- Release from this pose by bringing the palms to the floor.
This pose comes under the list of yoga poses for thyroid as it brings the neck into an intense backbend while kneeling on the floor. Expansion of the neck in this backbend pose energizes the body and can help reduce anxiety and fatigue, which are common hypothyroidism symptoms.
- Bring your knees to the floor extending the feet backwards keeping the knees, hips, and shoulders in one line.
- Place your hands on the sacrum with fingers pointing down.
- Bend your head and neck backward squeezing the buttocks and thighs.
- Gently extend your arms to place your palms on your heels dropping the head all the way backward.
- Hold this pose for 3-6 breaths.
Fish Pose brings a reverse stretch in the neck region by indulging the crown of the head and neck into a backbend.
The deep stretch that the neck experiences in this yoga for thyroid stimulates thorax and thyroid gland and helps in regulating any imbalance in the thyroid hormones.
- Sit on the floor extending the legs in front.
- Lean slightly backward placing the elbows on the floor placing the palms by the sides of your hips.
- Opening your chest fully gradually drop the crown of your head to the floor.
- Stay in this pose bending the neck backwards for a few breaths.
4. Wheel Pose (Chakrasana)
Also known as the Upward bow pose, Wheel pose brings the body into a deep backbend and stimulates not only the thyroid but also the master gland pituitary. It helps in regulating metabolism, hormonal flow, and enhances energy levels.
Due to the stimulation of pituitary gland, the thyroid secretion occurs in appropriate amount and helps preventing or curing thyroid disorders.
- Lie on your back bending the knees and placing the feet on the floor.
- Lifting the arms bend the elbows drawing the palms beside your head with fingertips pointing to the shoulders.
- Pressing your hands on the lift your hips off the floor.
- Slightly lift the head off the floor and let it hang backwards releasing any accumulated tension around the throat.
- Hold the pose breathing continuously and deepening the backbend with each inhalation.
Bow pose is practiced assuming a prone pose, folding the legs, and reaching the ankles with hands by bending the knees. The lifting of the head and chest in such a position stretches the neck muscles to stimulate the thyroid.
Keeping the massaging and soothing effects of bow pose on the thyroid gland and its functions categorize it under yoga for thyroid.
- Lie flat on your stomach.
- Bend your knees drawing your feet towards the hips.
- Extend your arms backwards to grab the ankles with the hands.
- Lift your head, shoulders, and chest off the floor and lifting your the thighs drag your feet towards the hips.
- Hold the pose stretching your neck muscle looking straight in front.
Bridge pose is practiced stretching the neck muscles by lifting the torso and balancing the body on the shoulders, arms, and feet. This brings an increased flow of blood to the neck muscles stimulating the thyroid gland.
It is an excellent stretch to cure hypothyroidism by regulating hormonal imbalance.
- Lie on your back bending the knee placing the feet on the floor.
- Place your arms by your sides with palms facing downwards.
- Pressing your palms on the floor raise your pelvis off the floor until the thighs become parallel to the floor.
- The ankles are stacked under the knees and the chin is tucked to the collar bone in the final raised pose.
Yoga Poses for Hyperthyroidism
Also called overactive thyroid, in hyperthyroidism thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormones that circulate in the blood. Its common symptoms include sensitivity to heat, hyperactivity, mood swings, anxiety, and irritability [efn_note] Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) symptoms https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/overactive-thyroid-hyperthyroidism/symptoms/ [/efn_note].
For Hyperthyroidism, however, some fast and aggressive hatha yoga asanas aren’t recommended [efn_note] Calming an Overactive Thyroid https://www.yogajournal.com/teach/calming-an-overactive-thyroid/ [/efn_note] as they can increase the activity of the overactive thyroid gland but some restorative postures may help. Moreover, yoga poses might be helpful in hyperthyroidism when performed with props for simpler modifications.
This is an advanced pose but probably the best yoga for thyroid that any yoga teacher would suggest. It brings the body into full inversion balancing it on the shoulders using a folded blanket under shoulders.
Sarvangasana rushes the flow of blood towards the head stimulating pituitary gland and improving overall body functions. Also, the chin is tucked to the chest in the final posture that improves the thyroid functions.
This helps in relieving stress by bringing oxygenated blood to the nervous system and strengthens immune system that is necessary to get rid of thyroid problems.
- Lie flat on your back extending the arms along the sides of the body with palms facing down.
- Keeping the arms, lift the legs, buttocks, and back off the floor so that the toes point upwards.
- While lifting the back keep your palms at your lower back for support and balance the body on shoulder blades.
- Stay in this pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
In this pose, the body seems like a serpent with raised hood, hence, the name which involves the neck into a backbend stretching the neck muscles fully.
It gently stimulates the thyroid gland to regulate its hormonal flow and also it engages the core muscles. This helps in curing digestive disorders like constipation which is also a symptom of thyroid.
Besides this, the stress relieving effects of Cobra pose are widely known, hence, thyroid patients must try this pose to experience relieving effects.
- Lie down in a prone position keeping the legs straight and top of the feet on the floor.
- Place the palms of the sides of the chest under the shoulder.
- Pressing the palms on the floor lift your head, chest, and shoulders keeping the elbows bent.
- If it feels comfortable, drop your head slightly back, and stay in the final pose for 20-25 seconds breathing deeply.
Child’s pose is practiced extending the neck and spine providing relaxing effects on mind. It releases any tension accumulated around the neck by improving blood circulation to this region and brain, thereby, relieving stress and easing the causes and symptoms of thyroid.
- Begin with coming to your all fours keeping the toes together.
- Lower your buttocks on your heels extending your arms forward on the floor.
- Bring your stomach to your thighs and lower your forehead to the floor extending the spine and neck muscles.
10. Cat-Cow Stretch Pose
Cat-cow stretch is practiced in a flowing movement contracting the throat muscles by bringing the chin to the chest. This is then followed by stretching the throat muscles while looking up.
This fluid-motion enhances blood circulation around the throat (Vishuddha) chakra. Besides this, it reduces other symptoms of thyroid like stress, anxiety, excessive fatigue, etc.
- Come to your all fours stacking the wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
- Sink your belly to the floor opening the chest stretching the neck to look up.
- Counter this stretch by curving your back tucking your chin to your chest and drawing the navel to the spine.
- Continue this movement for a few minutes syncing your breath with the movement.
Use this yoga for thyroid guide as a complementary therapy for improving your health and observe the desired results on your own.
Even if you are not suffering from thyroid disorder practicing these yoga poses helps improve your immune system, nervous system, and energy levels. These all will keep you away not only from thyroid issues but also let you live your life without any physical and psychological disorder.