By Helena Lucas
Yoga practice aims for internal balance. Fundamentally this involves optimisation of your endocrine system. Yoga postures and breathing techniques, in conjunction with meditation practices and chanting, stimulate your endocrine glands to enhance their functioning. This is achieved by internal massage on muscles and spine, by internal massage through sounds, by improving circulation, by stimulation of body areas which have connections to specific organs as demonstrated through reflexology techniques, focusing on chakras, and exercising the triple warmer muscles of your thorax.
Your endocrine system consists of glands that release chemical messages called ‘hormones’ to regulate your organism’s functions. Hormones are involved in growth and development, tissue function, metabolism (affecting weight regulation and hunger), and in your mood. They play a role in your experiencing relaxation or stress, pleasure or frustration, and fear or joy. Scientific experiments prove the relationship between our moods as reaction to external stimuli or circumstances, as with film themes, and hormone secretion. We know that hormonal imbalances affect our mood, and thus our decision-making, in undesirable ways. Consequences of our day-to-day choices will inevitably amount to change the direction of our lives. In this light, Yoga’s beneficial effect on our endocrine system is of paramount importance to all regardless of age or gender.
Your body ‘chakras’ or energy foci keep close relation with your internal glands that constitute your endocrine system. Yogis understand that when the pineal gland and the pituitary gland (or hypophysis) receive sufficient energy, they will channel impulses from the other endocrine glands in synchronicity to optimise rhythms for good health. Your pineal gland corresponds to your ‘third eye’ and is linked to your developing transcendental wisdom. Yoga meditation techniques powerfully stimulate this gland. Your pituitary gland, at the base of your brain, relates to inspiration and intuition. Its functioning is enhanced by The Archway yoga posture. A very pleasant practice to promote emotional balance through your endocrine system is the Kundalini Yoga Sat Nam (True Self) meditation exercise using breathing and chanting techniques.
Your thyroid gland, found below your larynx, or below Adam’s apple in men, is responsible for your body’s energy burning rate, and for your body’s sensitivity to other hormones. It produces the thyroid hormones Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3), involved in regulating your metabolism, and in the growth and rate of function of other bodily systems. It is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. In Yoga, it is connected to your chakra visshudda, which relates to your communication skills. Your thyroid’s functions are directly linked to your mood. When this gland becomes overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism) we experience undesirable effects. Excessive thyroid hormonal secretion produces nervousness, irritability, excessive hunger, palpitations, laboured breathing and an abnormally fast digestion. An underactive thyroid results in our apathy and tiredness. The inverted yoga posture Head Stand greatly enhanc