I know a lot about the Thyroid Gland. I don’t say this to be boastful, the fact is there gave been a lot of thyroid issues in my family. My mother swears it’s hereditary, so I have spent time understanding the issues. Just in case.
What is it?
The thyroid gland is butterfly shaped, and sits below the Adams Apple at the base of the neck. It does a number of things, but primarily controls metabolism, the way our bodies use energy. To do this it regulates vital bodily functions including:
- Heart rate
- Central and peripheral nervous systems
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Menstrual cycles›
- Body temperature
- Cholesterol levels
The thyroid doesn’t act alone – the hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland to tell the thyroid to secrete it’s hormones. The health of both hypothalamus and pituitary are thus also important. But when the message gets to the thyroid, it is important that it is healthy and able to produce the right amount of its hormones. Too little, leads to hypothyroidism – symptoms include tiredness, depression, difficulty concentrating, and dry skin & hair. Too much thyroid hormone leads to hyperthyroidism – symptoms include anxiety, hyperactivity, hands shaking, and sweating.
Boosting Thyroid Health
Obviously, consult your GP if you think you have thyroid issues. This list includes things that I have found useful in, hopefully, maintaining the health of my thyroid.
If you eat plant-based, make sure you get sufficient iodine. Seaweed (kelp) is a good source although be sure to get a clean supply – so much of the ocean is now polluted. I take a supplement, due to family pressure!
I practice shoulder stand – it’s one of my least favourite yoga poses, but often they are the ones we need the most! If shoulders stand isn’t for you, simply work with the neck, either sitting, or in combination with a pose like sphinx. Dropping the chin to the chest, whilst relaxing the shoulders, is a great way to stimulate the thyroid and is deeply calming. Equally, tipping the head back, stretches open the neck, and mildly energises. Gently moving the head side to side also stimulates the thyroid.
Ujaayi (ocean breathing) involves constricting the glottis to produce a gentle sound like the ocean on the inhale and exhale. (Imagine trying to steam up sunglasses to clean them – now do that through the nose on in and out breath). Ujaayi is thought to positively impact the thyroid. Bee breath (humming) is also a wonderful way to stimulate this part of the body.
4/ Making sound
Chanting, singing, speaking – expressing yourself is thought to keep the throat healthy, with a knock on effect to the thyroid. (Don’t over express! Moderation is key).
Meditate on the throat. If you’re a yogi, you might meditate on the throat chakra, silently inhaling Om, exhaling Hum . Non-yogis, just focus on what you feel in the throat. Notice the sensations, choose words to describe what you feel (colour, shape, ease / comfort, etc). If the colour is dark, lighten it. If the sensations include tension or jaggedness, relax and smooth them away with your awareness.
6/ Chakra Work
The Thyroid falls within the area of the Fifth Chakra. Keys words associated with this chakra are purity, vibration / sound (gong anyone?), and the colour blue. Modern psycho-spiritual interpretation of this chakra says it develops between the ages of 7 and 12. Look at family issues around communication, openness, and keeping secrets. For more about the Fifth Chakra, click here.
7/ Strive for Balance
Metabolism is how the body uses the fuel we put into it, to generate energy. Reflect this in your life – balance input with output. Eat a balanced, nutritious diet, aimed at maintaining your energy levels. Sleep well and make time for relaxation as well as stimulus. Exercises and rest. Maintain a healthy work-life balance. Be mindful of your energy levels at all time.
8/ Cold Water
During your cold shower (what do you mean you don’t do cold showers?!), direct the water onto your throat for thirty seconds.
If you’re a Babacool Member, search Thyroid for Yoga and Breath sessions to boost thyroid health.