WHY PRACTICE YOGA? by Karen Graham
In choosing an activity or exercise routine when living with an endocrine disorder such as thyroid disease, you must first evaluate many, many things.
I considered, among other things, the following. Below, I have then provided my conclusions to those considerations.
Will I tire easily as a result of practicing yoga?
Is yoga expensive?
Can I participate in yoga regularly?
Is yoga suitable for home participation?
Can I physically manage to take part in yoga? It looks difficult.
Will I need equipment to practice yoga?
Will my medication need to be adjusted as I become more able in my yoga practise?
Am I healthy enough to partake in exercise?
How much time will each yoga session take?
When should I practice yoga?
What are the benefits of yoga?
Do you have a goal?
You may have many more questions that you need to ask before you undertake yoga or any other exercise.
Let’s just try and answer those points before we progress further:
1). You are likely already tired if you are living with an endocrine illness (Thyroid, Hashimoto’s). Choosing yoga as opposed to any fast and hard cardiovascular routine, swimming, or a weight lifting exercise is probably sensible. It may add to your fatigue initially, but you should see improvement in your breathing, digestion and strength in as little as two months if you practice yoga regularly, while keeping your sessions shorter and easier.
2). If you have a carpeted floor and access to YouTube it won’t cost you a dime. I frequently practice yoga in my underwear (shhhhh!), and I occasionally use free YouTube videos. I will provide links to a few of the best online classes I have found. Investing in a good book is advisable and I have also provided my two favorites below.
3). You can practice yoga for five minutes daily or five hours, as often or infrequently as you can manage.
4). Yoga takes up a space that is the size of you. That’s all. So you can participate anywhere that there is a you-sized space.
5). Starting yoga can be physically demanding, as is the case with all exercise. Just because you see people sitting on a mat, or lying down, does not mean that they are not undertaking physically demanding exercise…They certainly are! Of course no-one is perfect in the beginning, whatever they undertake. You do only what you can manage, at any stage and no-one will expect any more of you. Even a little increase in mobility, an improvement in ability, or the increase in a feeling of well being will benefit your life. Yoga is your practice, not your friends’ or person sitting next to you. (if you partake in classes)
6). A special yoga mat can help with spacial awareness and provides a little extra comfort, but if you have a carpeted floor, you will be set. (Here is an thyroid/endocrine-friendly mat)
7). As you progress in your routine and ability you may require more (or less) medication. You will feel the need for a change, and you should discuss this with your medical team if necessary.
8). It is advisable to discuss with your medical team before you practice any exercise. But if you feel well enough, you could try a five or ten minute yoga session.
9). Yoga will be beneficial even if you partake for ten minutes, three times weekly. But start somewhere.
10). Ensure that you consume healthy food and beverages at least sixty minutes prior to a session. You may need to sip water through your practice, but you will be uncomfortable and possible nauseas if you have a full bladder or stomach when attempting any exercise.
11). As a result of practicing yoga, you may see improvements in your ability to breath, increased mobility, better digestion, improved posture, a wider range of movement, more strength, the ability to relax, less pain, clearer thought, better focus, improved memory and recall, increased metabolism, less insomnia, weight loss, and increased muscle tone. Not everyone will see all of these things, but consider that each of us is unique, we will all benefit in a unique manner. An improvement in any one of these things should be considered as a step in the right direction. Even if it comes in baby steps!
12). I think that even the intention of betterment for oneself is the only requirement for an undertaking of yoga practice. If you need to set goals as you improve then that can only be considered as positive.
In order to understand a little better what benefits practicing Yoga can have on you as a whole, it may be beneficial to buy a book or two and read about what you are doing. Researching any new practice, medication or exercise regimen is highly advisable. If you decide it’s not for you right now, you can always refer back to the information you gathered. In my opinion informational books are never a waste of money. Even if you sell, lend or trade them if they become of no further use to you.
Here are the two books I use in my practice.
Betsy Kase. Exercise in Action; Yoga $20 This book is a more simplistic guide, better geared towards those who are not especially familiar with Anatomy and Physiology, but need a basic understanding and simplistic approach.
Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews. Yoga Anatomy $18 This book is geared towards those that have a more scientific requirement for information, those who need to be given a more informed explanation of how the Yoga will work in consideration with the body.
Both of these books have excellent graphics and photographs.
Both explain yoga practices extremely well.
Yoga For Thyroid
I like to practice yoga in the hot tub if it is not too hot, or too crowded. The moderate heat allows a little extra movement, the water provides extra support. Of course there are only certain poses that you can do when standing, but any extra practice will help your improvement and aid your thyroid or chronic illness cause.
Warrior 1 and 2, Extended side angle pose, Extended triangle pose and King dancer can all be undertaken in a hot tub, or even a swimming pool (natural or saltwater are best). You may find that you can push that little bit further because of the extra support, but you should still be mindful to not over exert.
As someone who was extremely active and very fit when I was younger, I was quite shocked by how poor my range of movement had become in the five years since my initial diagnosis in 2011.
I have increased in weight by a total of around 80 lbs, so that does impede my abilities.
I could, in my prime put the palms of my hands on the floor from a standing position with my legs perfectly straight. Splits were easy for me and I could easily kneel. Not any more, and with a very recent diagnosis of Arthritis, to include Hashimoto’s Thyroid, Cushing’s Syndrome, Insulin Resistance, PCOS and Lupus, it really shouldn’t have been a surprise to me that I was restricted in what I could physically manage.
My inability to lift, push and grab, along with pain walking, has been steadily increasing.
HOWEVER, I refuse to let this and a little discomfort impede my practice. My overall health, mind and body, is important to me.
I will do what I can manage and I will continue to strive for improvement, however minute that improvement may be. I learned the hard way that I am unable to undertake many strenuous cardiovascular exercises on a regular basis, as they disrupt greatly my production of cortisol, which in turn has an adverse effect on my insulin levels and of course my blood sugar. Large rises and drops in my cortisol levels then serve to produce long periods of chronic fatigue.
I have found however, that practicing yoga, while it can cause the normal aches and pains that new and increased exercise can also produce, does not cause the very debilitating fatigue that I endure with heavy cardiovascular exercise.
I am grateful for whatever improvement and benefit yoga can provide me with and I will, respectfully practice within my ability, for as long as I am able. You can think of it as ‘mindful movement’. You are being mindful of the movement you are doing to better your health.
I would absolutely encourage anyone looking for a less strenuous yet incredibly beneficial exercise, to consider yoga.
Below are two tried and tested YouTube practitioners that you can follow both as a new Yogi and as a more improved Yoga practitioner, without over exertion or injury.
Also, be sure to check out The Kaivalya Yoga Method Teacher Training and learn from someone who is thriving with thyroid disease.
Join Alanna + Danna For Restorative Thyroid Healing Yoga Online Course
WE’D LOVE TO HAVE YOUR THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS IN THE SECTION BELOW. YOU NEVER KNOW, YOU MIGHT JUST HELP SOMEONE ELSE WITH GRAVES WHO NEEDS YOGA.
Yoga and meditation can support you on your thyroid healing journey but, how yoga works for some is different than others. Listen to your own body.
**Article originally featured on Thyroid Nation**