Many of the clients that I see are on thyroid medication, most of them suffering from hypothyroidism, and I often get questions on how to improve thyroid function naturally. So today, I’d like to share a few techniques with you that are simple, free, and that you can do in the comfort of your own home.
Asana & Pranayama
Ayurveda incorporates techniques from its sister science, Yoga, including pranayama (breathing techniques) and asana (physical postures). There are specific breathing techniques and postures that are excellent for improving thyroid function:
- Ujjayi Pranayama – also called Breath of Victory, this is the traditional breathing technique that is used during a yoga class, but it can be performed on its own at any time as well. It is very relaxing when performed, helping to calm the mind and the nervous system. When we put the body into a relaxed state like this, all of its systems are able to function more efficiently, including the endocrine system of which the thyroid is part of. Click here for detailed instructions on how to perform Ujjayi Pranayama.
- Kapalabhati Pranayama – this technique, also known as Skull Shining Breath (don’t get scared J) is a technique that is very cleansing and energizing. Through these effects, it helps to improve many functions in the body, and can lead to improved thyroid health. Make sure to perform this one on an empty stomach – the morning is a good time to do it. Click here for detailed instructions on how to perform Kapalabhati Pranayama.
- Viparita Karani – this is a physical posture, or asana, that is also known as Legs up the Wall. I love this one because it is simple and safe for most anyone to do. You don’t have to be flexible, in shape, or have any equipment whatsoever. There are numerous health benefits to this posture, including improved endocrine function. It is very calming and can be performed at any time of the day. Click here for detailed instructions on how to perform Viparita Karani.
- Setu Bandha Saravangasana – also known as Bridge Pose, this is another excellent movement to help improve endocrine function. If you have any low back issues, this same movement can be performed with a yoga block placed under the sacrum for support. You’ll notice the slight compression in the throat area, which helps stimulate the thyroid gland. However, be sure not to overdo it – you don’t want to have your chin touching your chest in this pose. Click here for full instructions on performing Setu Bandha Saravangasana.
The most important thing to remember when eating for thyroid health is to keep to good quality food. Here are some additional guidelines:
- Organic or biodynamic as much as possible
- Sufficient fiber
- Reduce the amount of fat, and stick to healthy fats such as organic, cold-pressed olive oil and ghee
- Eliminate refined sugar and white flour
- Enjoy whole cooked grains (such as barley and quinoa)
- Enjoy lots of green, leafy vegetables (such as kale, swiss chard, etc.)
- Enjoy legumes (such as lentils and dried beans)
- Use digestive spices in your cooking (such as fennel, coriander, and cumin)
*Please keep in mind that these are general guidelines – if you have a specific food allergy or condition that is aggravated by any of these foods, always be sure to check with your health care provider first.
Ayurveda offers herbal supplements that can be taken to help improve thyroid function. However, I don’t feel it is safe to give general advice on this without knowing other factors, including what medications someone is on, other health conditions, and so on.
Herbs can be powerful aids in helping to support the body to reach optimum function; however, they all have unique properties, and are not one-size-fits-all. Only after a complete evaluation from a practitioner can a customized blend be recommended for you. (If you are interested in scheduling a consultation, click here to send me a message).
Yoga & Ayurveda offer many additional practices that can help improve thyroid function, and a practitioner can assign specific techniques that would be best suited for each individual, as we are all different and have different needs.
I hope this article was able to give you a glimpse into the array of practices that are available from a holistic perspective, and perhaps inspires you to seek an alternative approach to your health.
If you are ever in need of support from a practitioner to help you with a customized plan, don’t hesitate to reach out – I offer support to clients pretty much anywhere in the world as long as you have a phone or internet connection J
In the meantime, I hope you will try a few of the practices we covered today, and thanks to my friends at Banyan Botanicals for putting together the lovely photos and instructions, they are such a great resource to have!