Yoga is an Eastern practice that goes back thousands of years. Only recent has it become a popularized form of exercise in the West.

Although the real intention of yoga (unity of body with spirit) is rarely attainted in the colonized Western version of the practice, the postures involved still provide a low-impact form of stretching. These stretches and poses, which allow blood to flow to areas that need healing, can undoubtedly address specific health concerns.

There are thousands, if not millions, of yoga poses, from which you can choose to target different areas of your body. Poses run from easy (like corpse pose) to advanced (like crow pose), so they’re good for any age, or shape.

Where Is The Thyroid?
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped organ that sits in the front of your neck. It produces hormones that regulate your metabolism and affect every organ in the body. Thyroid hormones are also involved in the regulation of skeletal growth and maintenance, as well as heart function.

Around 27-million Americans have thyroid disease, and even more have low thyroid function.

Symptoms of thyroid dysfunction include:
– Fatigue
– Slowed metabolism
– Weight gain
– Constipation
– Difficulty concentrating
– Waxy skin and swelling (myxedema)
– Dry skin
– Low libido
– Depression
– Slow pulse
– Dry, brittle hair
– Deep, hoarse voice

What Triggers Poor Thyroid Function?
There are a variety of reasons as to why your thyroid might be malfunctioning. Environmental factors put a heavy toll on the thyroid, and is one of the main factors in contributing to autoimmune thyroid disease.

These factors include :
– Smoking
– Stress
– Exposure to radiation
– Nutrient deficiencies (iodine, selenium, zinc, vitamin B12)
– Environmental toxins (pesticide exposure, fluoride in water, etc.)
– Chronic infections
– Certain medications (beta blockers, birth control pills, estrogen, iodinated contrast agents, lithium, phytoin, steroids (testosterone injections), theophylline)

Yoga for Thyroid
Yoga works to stretch and open constricted muscle and connective tissue around the neck, improve blood and lymph flow, reduce stress, and stimulate the endocrine system (which includes the thyroid).

The poses mentioned below are throat-stimulating. They improve circulation and energy flow around the thyroid, and help stretch and strengthen the neck.

In fact, several studies have shown the positive effect of yoga on improving thyroid function. One study found that practicing yoga for six months helped improve cholesterol levels, serum TSH, and reduced the thyroxine requirement in female patients suffering from hypothyroidism .

As with all stretching and yoga routines, remember to breathe deep, and never go too deep into a pose if you experience sharp pain.

1. Fish Pose

1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you.
2. Move to one side at a time so that you can place your hands directly underneath each buttocks (palms facing down, fingers towards the toes).
3. Draw your elbows into each other and open your chest.
4. Slowly lean back onto your forearms and elbows.
5. Again, open your chest as much as possible and press into your arms to stay lifted.
6. Drop your head back if you haven’t had any neck injuries, and only if it is comfortable.
7. Release by lifting your head, releasing your hands and lying down on your back.

2. Legs-up-the-wall Pose

1. Use a folded blanket or firm pillow underneath your hips for support.
2. Add more height to the support if you’re more flexible.
3. Sit with your right side against the wall, and lift your legs up along the wall at the same time as you lie back.
4. Your buttocks can be right against the wall, or a few inches away.
5. Soften your throat and relax your neck and chin
6. Keep your arms alongside your body, above your head, or anywhere that is most comfortable.
7. Stay here for up to 20 minutes – the longer, the better!
8. Release the pose by pushing yourself away from the wall.

3. Cat and Cow Pose

1. Start with your hands and knees on the floor, palms directly under the shoulder rand knees directly below the hips.
2. Breathe in and pull your abdominal muscles in as you arch your back up like a stretching cat. Let your head and tailbone drop down toward the floor.
3. Return to the initial position, and then extend the upper part of the spine upwards, supporting it with your abdominal muscles and not letting your neck sink into your shoulders, or your shoulders crunch up into your neck. Make sure your neck is a long extension of your spine, and don’t let the head fall back.
4. Return to starting position and repeat 5 times.
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