By Dr. Rita Khanna
Is there a connection between the thyroid gland and Sarvangasana? The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped, pinkish-colored gland, situated in the neck in front of the trachea. It does not weigh more than twenty grams. The daily production of thyroid hormones is less than 1 / 2800000 grams. The 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 food, occurs by the action of thyroid hormones. If there is little dysfunction of the thyroid gland, or little imbalance in thyroid hormones, our condition deteriorates.
The face may get swollen; a 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 the rapid digestion of food and increase in metabolic rate. The eyes become prominent and the eyelids may not cover the eyeballs properly. The person may become irritable. His mental condition may be like that of a mentally challenged person. It also leads to the increase in heart rate, palpitations, and irregular heartbeats; and may result in death.
The thyroid gland is similar to 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 like a 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 the thyroid gland are synthesized. The molecules of the hormones get bound with the protein, and through the 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 the 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 the thyroid hormones remains normal, which keeps the body fit. The pregnant ladies should have this hormone in excess of the normal amount. Deficiency of thyroid hormones, at the time of birth, results in thick lips, a 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 the pituitary gland. Then, the pituitary gland releases a thyroid- stimulating hormone, thyrotropin, and sends it to the thyroid gland and the 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 the hypothalamus, and thereby, the pituitary gland will be inhibited. Therefore, the 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. The thyroid gland has to synthesize and release extra hormones during various problems of an individual’s life, such as social and economical, a 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, as well. In such circumstances, the stressed brain stimulates the hypothalamus, which, in turn, stimulates the pituitary gland; and then the pituitary will stimulate the 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 an inadequate supply of iodine to the thyroid gland. It is not immediately fatal, but due to an 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 and feet together. Place the arms by the sides of the body, with palms facing down. Relax the entire body and mind. To begin with, gently open your eyes.
• Slowly inhale deeply. Press the hands and lift both legs simultaneously. Then, lift the hips, and then the back. Support the body with both hands. Hands should come down, as 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. The whole body should remain straight.
• Breathing should be normal.
• Do it for twenty seconds, in the beginning. Then. it should be practiced for one and a half minutes to five minutes. Stay in this position as long as possible, with comfortable, 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 lower back, then hips, and legs, up to the heels on the ground.
• Don’t do this in 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.
The following persons should not try to perform Sarvangasana:
Children of less than twelve eyes of age, persons having high myopia, persons 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.
Sarvangasana provides benefits in the following way:
In Sarvangasana position, the blood circulation is especially centered towards the 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 the thyroid and parathyroid glands, and cervical vertebra. The thyroid and par