Most of us experience times when we feel run-down and tired, missing that delicious feeling-alive juice. Then we think, ‘Well, I am getting older’. But your low-energy could be a metabolic imbalance due to fluctuations in the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the throat below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid is akin to a computer’s motherboard producing hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism through back-and-forth chemical conversations with the brain and the pituitary gland. The thyroid can tip into over-production or hyperthyroidism with physical expressions of nervous energy, heat intolerance, menstrual problems, rapid heart rate, and a range of other issues. Low hormone production or hypothyroidism is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms look like aging-fatigue, weight gain, muscle pains, bowel movement changes, mental confusion or forgetfulness, and depression. Both conditions are more common in mature women, ages 30-60.
A smoothly functioning thyroid is dependent on clear and healthy brain hormone signals and adequate iodine in the diet, which can be found in seaweeds, sea salt, fresh vegetables, and milk. From the yogic perspective, the thyroid is part of the throat chakra, Vishuddhi,the psychic center that transforms poisons from the body into amrit, the nectar of immortality.
One of the main psychological causes of chronic thyroid imbalance is when we don’t speak with our authentic heart-centered voice shutting down our emotions. Kirtan or devotional singing and a repetitive chanting meditation of the mantra SO HUM (That Am I) opens psychic channels, soothing and healing suppressed emotions and reconnecting the throat and heart chakras.Yoga exercises that stimulate the front of the throat attract the brain’s attention and bring healing energy or prana to the thyroid.
Thyroid-healing asanas are the inversions , especially shoulder stand (Sarvangasana), half shoulder stand (Vipareeta Karani Mudra), and the plow (Halasana), followed by fish (Matsayana) for a counter pose. Inversions are not recommended during menstruation or for people with high blood pressure, head injuries, glaucoma, vision problems, and other debilities. Back bending asanas are also effective, such as bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), sleeping thunderbolt (Supta Vajrasana), or the more extreme camel (Ushtrasana).
Two more beneficial practices are the roaring lion (Simhagarjanasana) and psychic breathing (Ujjayi), which has a profound relaxing effect and is a base breath used in powerful yogic meditations. Ujjayi is created by breathing through the nose while gently contracting the glottis in the throat, which causes a soft snoring sound. The last and most important piece of maintaining a healthy thyroid is deep, deep body and mind relaxation. Everyone underestimates the role of stress in our day-to-day experience of health. Every charged emotion like jealousy, resentment, guilt, and fear, initiates a cascade of hormones that disrupts the endocrine balance, and over the long-term, this chronic stress is detrimental to the body’s biology. Meditation, restorative and yin yoga, and yoga nidra, which is a guided meditation that leads the body to the edge of sleep, are core practices to harmonize the body and mind hormones and keep the thyroid humming.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Excerpt from Yogic Management of Common Diseases by Dr Swami Karmananda, Yoga Publications Trust, Bihar, India, one of the texts used in our Yoga Therapy Training. Edited by Susie Smith.