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Thyroid gland and Sarvangasana

The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped, pinkish coloured gland situated in the neck in front of trachea. It does not weigh more than twenty grams. The daily production of thyroid hormones is less than 1 / 2800000 grams. Thyroid is a great center of energy source.

The prime function of the thyroid gland is to control metabolism. As the bellows of a black smith pushes the air to maintain fire, in the same way thyroid also maintains appetite (Jatharagni).The energy production from the food occurs by the action of thyroid hormones. If there is little dysfunction of thyroid gland or little imbalance in thyroid hormones our condition deteriorates. The face may get swollen; loss of interest, sadness and dejection may disturb the life. A little increase in the hormones may increase appetite and it results in excessive food intake. 

But body weight decreases. It is because of rapid digestion of food and increase in metabolic rate. The eyes become prominent and eyelids may not cover the eyeballs properly. The person may become irritable. His mental condition may be like that of a mentally retarded person. It also leads to increase in heart rate, palpitations, irregular heartbeats and may result into death.

The thyroid gland is a small chemical plant like other endocrine glands of our body. It takes essential elements from circulating blood and synthesizes hormones. The daily requirement of iodine is 1 / 5000 gram. It looks negligible amount but one should not under estimate it. A little imbalance in it results in madness or a child like behavior. The elderly person may lose physical strength, become dejected and depressed.

From the digestive system iodine is obtained by the thyroid gland in the form of iodide. One of the many enzymes present in the thyroid gland makes iodide to get attached with the amino acid known as tyrosine. Thus two main hormones of thyroid gland are synthesized. The molecules of the hormones get bound with the protein and through blood it is distributed in the whole body for action.

The importance and the capacity of the thyroid can be clearly seen and understood because its hormones make every cell of the body active. For that the essential elements should reach thyroid gland in proper form and in time for normal functioning of the gland. In addition it is also important to see that the balance of thyroid hormones remains normal which keeps the body fit. The pregnant ladies should have this hormone in excess amount than normal. Deficiency of thyroid hormones at the time of birth results in thick lips, flat nose and short stature of the child.



Hypothalamus is an important organ related to thyroid function and is situated in the brain. It activates pituitary gland. Then pituitary gland releases thyroid stimulating hormone thyrotropin and sends it to thyroid gland and thyroid releases its hormone which is used as energy needed for our daily routine activities. If there is excessive synthesis and release of thyroid hormone there is inhibition of hypothalamus and there by pituitary gland will be inhibited. 

Therefore thyroid gland will not be stimulated to release its hormones. If pituitary has released its hormones in excess due to system disorder hyperthyroid status will result which requires urgent treatment. Thyroid gland has to synthesize and release extra hormones during various problems of individual’s life, like social and economical; family member’s death, business crises, accidental injury while driving, major surgery of family member, family disputes arising every now and then etc. The thyroid gland has to release hormones to maintain mental balance also. In such circumstances the stressed brain stimulates hypothalamus which in turn stimulates pituitary gland and then pituitary will stimulate thyroid gland to work more.

The problem starts when the iodine level decreases in the body. There is a possibility of increasing the weight of the thyroid gland from 28 grams to hundred or two hundred grams due to inadequate supply of iodine to thyroid gland. It is not fatal immediately but due to enlargement of the thyroid gland the person looks strange. It may cause difficulty in breathing if there is severe enlargement of the gland.

Sarvangasana (The Shoulder stand) is the ideal Asana for most thyroid gland problems. If you are overactive it tends to reduce secretion and if you are under active it tends to release more thyroid hormones. This is achieved by improving the general health and function of the gland. It can be done in the following way:

METHOD OF SARVANGASANA

• Lie down on the back on a folded blanket with legs straight & feet together. Place the arms by the sides of the body and palms facing downwards. Relax the entire body and mind. To begin with gently open your eyes.

• Slowly inhale deeply. Press the hands & lift both the legs simultaneously. Then lift the hips and then back. Support the body with both the hands. Hands should come down as much close as possible to the scapula (behind the rib cage).

• The chin should touch the upper border of the sternum. Bring the chest towards the chin and not the chin towards the chest.

• Keep the body straight, the feet joined together and stretch the feet upwards towards the sky. Whole body should remain straight.

• Breathing should be normal.

• Do it for twenty seconds in the beginning. Then it should be practised for one and half minute to five minutes. Stay in this position as far as possible & comfortable with closed eyes.

• While returning from the vertical position first take the legs towards the head. Keep the hands on the floor to maintain the balance.

• After taking the support by the hands first bring the back, then low back, then hips and legs upto heels on the ground.

• Don’t do haste while lifting or bringing the legs down and don’t bend the knees.

• After bringing the body back to the supine position, take rest in Shavasana.

CAUTION

Following persons should not try to perform Sarvangasana.

The children of less than twelve eyes of age, the persons having high myopia, the person having uncontrolled blood pressure even with medicines, those having cervical spondylosis, pregnant ladies, persons with problem of myocardial infarction, mental instability, persons having ear discharge or perforated ear drum.

BENEFITS

Sarvangasana provides benefits in the following way:

In Sarvangasana position the blood circulation is especially centered towards thyroid gland. The body position is topsy-turvy, so there is no difficulty for the heart to pump the blood towards the brain since it automatically flows towards the brain. 

This position has beneficial effects on the two main parts of the body; these are thyroid and parathyroid glands and cervical vertebra. Thyroid and parathyroid gland have effects on functions of respiration, blood circulation, digestion, excretion and nervous system. When these glands function properly the other systems mentioned above function normally. Therefore this Asana is called as Sarvangasana as it takes care of all these functions.



SOME OTHER ASANAS AND PRANAYAMA

Matsyasana, Halasana, Simhasana, Surya Namaskar, Pawanmuktasana, Yoga Mudra, Neck Exercise, Omkar, Bhramari, Nadi Shodhana, Ujjayi Pranayama, Khechari Mudra, and Jalandhara Bandha all exert a balancing and stimulating influence on the thyroid gland. While doing these practices, focus your mind on the throat, the effects will be more. If you are not confident of any of the exercises, please ask your instructor for guidance.

CONCLUSION

Balancing of the emotions and giving a suitable outlet for their expression is an important part of Yoga therapy for thyroid disease. Yoga- Abhyasa (practice) and mental exposure will give you a boon of perfect, happy and composed health. The three-pronged approach of Yoga-Abhyasa, a specialist doctor's advice and positive frame of mind will cure your thyroid complications completely & you'll live healthily thereafter.


Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna

Aum Shanti