Breathing Practice for Thyroid Disease Sufferers
Thyroid disease affects as much as one third of the population. It produces symptoms such as weight gain or loss, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, bloating, hair loss, anxiety, and depression. While there are many medical approaches to healing thyroid disease, there is another approach we can turn to as a form of complementary medicine: yoga.
In particular, specific breathing practices, known as pranayama, are very effective in alleviating the symptoms associated with thyroid disease. These practices are simple enough for anyone to do, and offer tremendous benefit in reducing stress, improving immune function, and balancing adrenal function. It also aids in mental clarity (reducing brain fog) and alleviates the effects of chronic fatigue.
In short, pranayama is a very practical, simple and useful tool to add to your repertoire in healing thyroid disease.
The easiest way to bring pranayama into your daily practice is by developing mindfulness of your breath. By paying attention to the inhale and exhale on a regular basis, you ensure that this basic function of the body does not fall into negative unconscious patterning, such as shallow breathing, or anxious breathing. Simply taking full, deep breaths more frequently throughout the day is a positive step in the right direction toward reaping the fuller benefits of yoga practice.
For a more in-depth practice of pranayama that is still simple, effective, and safe for most everyone, see the instructions below for Skull Shining Breath (or, Kapalabhati).
Skull Shining Breath (Kapalabhati)
- come to sit in a comfortable position, close the eyes
- take three steady, even breaths
- inhale to a comfortable level and then exhale by sharply contracting abdominal muscles in and up
- -this is a similar action to blowing the nose
- repeat 10 times for beginners, up to 30 for more advanced students
- finish each round by exhaling completely, then take three steady even breaths
- do two to three rounds
Do this practice in the morning, as it provides an energizing effect. You may also do this practice at anytime throughout the day that you need a “pick-me-up.” Because it brings energy to the body, you may also do it when you feel cold. Because common symptoms of thyroid disease are feeling cold, and chronic fatigue, this practice is a very good one to keep in your thyroid healing toolkit!
*Common contraindications of this breath are pregnancy, high blood pressure, acid reflux, abdominal pain. Or, if you get dizzy, or lightheaded, stop the practice immediately.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alanna Kaivalya, Ph.D. – What initially propelled Alanna into her first yoga class was the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (a combination of hypothyroidism and an autoimmune disorder). Over the years Alanna has explored and studied many modalities of healing from diet, to energy work, to therapeutic practices, to physical movement, and even traditional Western medicine. Of all the things she tried, she came to know this: The body can only express the truth that it carries inside. Over the past 15 years, Alanna has written three books on yoga (Myths of the Asanas, Sacred Sound and Yoga Beyond the Mat), launched the world’s first and most comprehensive online 500 hour teacher certification program, and earned her doctorate in Mythology and Depth Psychology. Find out more about her at alannak.com.
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Yoga, meditating and breathing correctly can support you on your thyroid healing journey but, how yoga works for some is different than others. Listen to your own body.