How can Yoga help hypothyroidism?
Are excessive weight gain and menstrual irregularities concerning you? Do you feel that its time to protect your body from the side effects caused by conventional treatment and looking for a holistic approach instead? Then you may try some thyroid exercises mentioned in yoga.
Hypothyroidism is one of the most common health conditions where the thyroid glands secrete low levels of thyroid hormone into the body. Thyroid makes an essential component of the body that helps maintain the body’s metabolic rate. Any malfunction in the levels of thyroid can cause elevated lipid profiles and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which in turn gives rise to comorbid conditions such as obesity, depression, coronary artery disease, osteoporosis, sleep apnea, etc. Hypothyroidism marks a high prevalence rate worldwide affecting approximately 1/10 out of 35 adults where women are found to be affected more when compared to men.
There are various conventional treatments available that aims to lower TSH levels. However, studies have also reported that thyroid hormone therapy can lead to a decrease in bone mineral density giving rise to spinal osteopenia. Yoga for hypothyroidism has proved to be effective in treating various comorbidities and complications that arise due to hypothyroidism like dyslipidemia, reducing weight, depression. Yoga brings the balance in the autonomous nervous system. Yoga asanas for thyroid have a potential role as an add-on therapy in modern medical science when it comes to the management of hypothyroidism.
Yoga can bring many advantages to your general health and well-being. It can balance your energy, increase flexibility, and relieve stress. There’s a link between stress and hypothyroidism, but certain yoga poses are considered to balance out thyroids which are either underactive or overactive. Several studies have demonstrated the positive impact of yoga on improving thyroid function. Bear in mind that these poses can’t heal your thyroid imbalance. Yoga is regarded as a complementary therapy, and therefore shouldn’t be applied as a replacement for any remedies or medications you are currently undergoing.
See: Yoga For GERD
What Yoga asanas are best for hypothyroidism?
Look for a qualified yoga instructor who can help you assemble a customized sequence which will be useful to your affliction. Check with your physician before starting any yoga program.
Hypothyroidism is known to be directly associated with stress. One can maintain their increased levels of stress by following the yogic practice. Thyroid treatment in Ayurveda yoga does not claim to cure the disease but it can definitely help in keeping the thyroid glands healthy and thereby regulate metabolism, preventing any further complications. Yoga asanas that are known to stimulate your thyroid can improve circulation and energy flow around the thyroid.
List of Yoga Asanas for Hypothyroidism
1. Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
Sarvangasana or shoulder stand is known as the queen of all poses. Lie on your yoga mat with your shoulders supported on a stack of blankets and your head on the floor. Keep your arms on the floor alongside your torso, then bend your knees and slowly bring your feet at 90-degree angle against the floor, while doing this try to draw your thighs in front of your torso. You can support this posture by putting both your hands on the torso and stretching your legs even higher.
Benefits: Stimulates endocrine system by exerting pressure on the thyroid gland, releases blood into the neck and helps nourish the thyroid gland.
2. Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
This yoga pose is a form of hatha yoga that looks like an archers bow. Lie on your stomach with arms alongside the torso. Then slowly bend your knees and bring your feet close towards your buttocks. Then hold your ankles with your hands. Stretch your body to its fullest by pulling your thighs and shoulders away from the floor and stretching your neck outwards towards the sky. Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds while taking deep breaths.
Benefits: Helps strengthen your back, corrects menstrual irregularity and menstrual pain. Massages thyroid, and helps release thyroid hormone for controlling metabolism in conditions like hypothyroidism.
3. Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
Lie with your back on the floor and slide your hands with palms down, below your buttocks by lifting your pelvis slightly off the floor. Inhale and use your forearms to lift your shoulders, chest, head, and upper back off the mat. Be into this position for a minimum of 30-40 seconds. Return to the initial position and repeat the process at least 5-6 times.
Benefits: Promotes enhanced blood circulation in the thyroid gland. Good for Hypothyroidism, abdominal muscles and the spinal column.
4. Halasana (Plow Pose)
Lie on your back in a supine position, keeping your arms alongside the body with palms facing down. The next step involves bending the knees and bringing the legs up and stretching them back, towards the forehead while placing both the hands under the hips. Hold the position, and straighten your knees as much as you can to attain the proper posture, for a few seconds.
Benefits: Stimulates the thyroid glands by stretching the neck, strengthens abdominal muscles and back muscles, relaxes the autonomous nervous systems and helps de-stress.
5. Viparita Karani (Inverted Pose)
This pose is also known as the legs up the wall pose. it’s a very simple pose that involves lying on your back, and raising your legs against the wall at a 90-degree angle, with your hands spread away from your body in a T-shape.
Benefits: Increases blood flow to the thyroid gland, improves thyroid function, helps fight hypothyroidism, stress, insomnia, and anxiety.
All of the above-mentioned poses should be practiced under the supervision of a yoga therapist. Because every asana consists of some points of caution that you must keep in mind before you go for it.
Scientific Studies in Yoga for Hypothyroidism
Research / clinical studies done to showcase the efficacy of Yoga for Hypothyroidism:
1. Effect of 6 months intense Yoga practice on lipid profile, thyroxine medication and serum TSH level in women suffering from hypothyroidism: A pilot study.
In a study carried out during 2016 reported that 6 months of yoga can have beneficial effects on the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone, and cholesterol levels. The study included 22 household women suffering from hypothyroidism with an average of 4-5 year history of hypothyroidism. All these women took 6 months of yoga intervention, 1 hour daily for 4 days in a week. The yoga intervention program included physical postures, Suryanamaskar, dynamic yogic breathing practices like Nadi shuddhi pranayama, Ujjayi pranayama, Bhramari pranayama and so on. The dosage of thyroxine, Lipid profile, and serum TSH level were assessed before and after the intervention.
The results showed that practicing yoga for 6 months has significantly reduced the levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides while improving serum TSH levels in female patients suffering from hypothyroidism.
2. Integrated Yoga and Naturopathy module in the management of Metabolic Syndrome: A case report..
The study showed that how a 50-year-old male participant living a sedentary lifestyle, and diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) hypothyroidism, got benefited from Yoga and Naturopathy module. The yoga intervention included various, relaxation, loosening techniques and asanas that included Ardhakat, Chakrasana, Ardha chakrasana, Padahastasana, Vakrasana, Navasana, Ardha Machendrasana, Surya anuloma, Parivrtta Trikonasana, Kapalabhati, Vibhagiya pranayama, Suryanamaskara techniques. Whereas, naturopathy treatment included a combination of therapeutic fasting and calorie-restricted diet, mud therapy, hydrotherapy, and manipulative therapies, with a primary focus on the detoxification. The treatment was carried out for 6 weeks after which all his parameters were found to be within a normal range.
The results showed a reduction in weight, Body Mass Index, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) was found to be (6.90 μIU/ml to 3.052 μIU/ml), postprandial glucose, glycated hemoglobin, High-Density Lipoprotein
The holistic approach of yoga comprises of breathing, physical postures, and meditation can help manage various symptoms of Hypothyroidism and psychological stress, thereby leading to the physical benefits of an individual. Yoga is easy to adhere to and adopt without having any adverse effect. However, the results are still inconclusive due to small sample size and further randomized controlled studies need to be conducted to confirm that yoga is effective in managing a variety of disorders. Adding some or all these yoga poses to your routine might help to increase your thyroid function. Do what seems best on a daily basis. Try to do at least a little bit of yoga every day. These poses may lead one to find new variations and postures which bring you the maximum advantage. Always listen to your body. Know about how each pose impacts you and particularly your thyroid gland.