Yoga really is medicine. Using this ancient tradition, we can become the alchemists of our own practice and treat ailments and abnormalities of all kinds.
About five years ago I suffered from a bad case of burn out and was told I had an overactive thyroid. And although I was teaching at the time, the stresses that came with being a new business owner were taking priority over my practice and I wasn’t nourishing in any of my usual ways—including yoga.
I started to research yoga poses that would bring my thyroid back into balance. Many of the postures that stimulated the throat seemed to do the trick. And so I used the following sequence three times a week in parallel to a healthy and specified diet prescribed by my naturopath.
1. Navasana—Boat Pose
1. From a seated posture, hold the backs of your knees, draw navel to spine to activate core and lift shins so they are parallel to the floor. Either remain here or, if you’re feeling strong at the core;
2. Remove hands and if you want even more you could lengthen the legs if it doesn’t strain your lower back. Stay five generous breaths.
2. Setu Bandha—Bridge Pose
1. Lie down and bend knees so that your feet are hip distance apart and close to your sit bones.
2. Place palms flat down by your side. Inhale and press firmly into hands and feet to lift through the lower back, mid back and upper back.
3. With haps buoyant, and if comfortable, wriggle shoulders under body one at a time and interlace your hands with the outer edges of your hands grounded.
4. Ease your chest towards your chin (but not the other way around)
5. Stay 10 generous breaths.
6. When you come out, with feet still grounded, press your lower back to the ground to release it.
3. Halasana—Plow Pose
1. Still on your back, press palms firmly into the floor just like in the previous posture and, using core strength begin to lift your feet up and over so that your feet are (or are almost) to the floor (if they don’t quite reach, no big deal!)
2. As you did in the previous posture, try slowly wriggling shoulder underbody and interlacing hands. This gives you a great shoulder stretch plus opening for lower back whilst stimulating thyroid.
3. Again, 10 or more generous breaths.
1. From the previous posture, and again with core awareness, begin to lift legs towards the sky taking the hands slowly into the back for support.
2. The ‘energetic direction’ of this posture is to take ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders into a vertically stacked line but if you’re at a slope—no worries—most people will be.
3. Ankles felt so that it looks like you’re standing on the ceiling.
4. Gentle core strength to maintain lift.
5. Listen to breath in the back of the throat. This is the magic of this posture. Pure nectar for your thyroid.
6. 10 or more generous breaths.
7. To come out, very slowly begin to lower your legs towards earth, bending knees to take the pressure and weight out of the back.
8. Allow a few moments of stillness on your back to feel the effects of this powerful posture before moving onto the final posture.
5. Matsyasana—Fish Pose
1. To both release the neck after the last two postures as well as stimulate the thyroid, straighten arms by side and energise the legs whilst pointing the toes.
2. Wriggle thumbs under sit bones but ensure arms are straight.
3. Inhale as you press your elbows and forearms into the ground and, whilst maintaining the energy in legs and using core control, begin to lift the chest high so that you’re rested on the forearms. Gently drop the head back.
4. Stay 5 generous breaths. *Please note, the above should not be used as a replacement for any therapies or medications you’re currently undergoing. Always consult a medical professional for a suspected thyroid issue.