Many women, especially after a certain age, struggle with a malfunctioning thyroid. Whether or not you have an actual thyroid condition, this powerful gland impacts important bodily functions like metabolism. When it’s not working right, excess weight can creep up along with other symptoms like tiredness and brain fog. Luckily, however, the way we move can alter our bodies and even the gentlest movement can help heal the thyroid — that’s where yoga comes in.
Research has shown that yoga can benefit the thyroid and help bring balance to metabolism-revving hormones. Ok, so you’re not super flexible. Maybe you can’t even touch your toes. The good news is, there are several basic yoga postures that help stimulate blood flow to the thyroid gland.
Check out this list of five super easy yoga postures to do first thing in the morning to fire up your thyroid — you can even do them in bed!
Bow pose is a thyroid and neck-stretching posture that elongates the front body while strengthening the muscles in the back body. Not only will your metabolism and thyroid thank you, but with practice, this pose can help to alleviate stubborn upper back pain and even improve digestion! To perform:
1. Lay flat on your belly and extend your arms alongside you with your palms facing up.
2. Bend the knees so that the feet come toward your bottom, and grab hold of the outside of your ankles with your hands. Be sure to keep the feet flexed and active to protect your knees.
3. On an inhale, start to press your feet firmly into your hands, creating resistance. Imagine that your shins are actively pushing toward the back of the room.
4. You may feel your knees splaying apart, but try not to let them. While in this pose, pull the knees in toward each other to keep them in proper alignment, hip-width distance apart. This will draw your chest up higher and really stretch the front of the hip flexors, which tend to hold a lot of tension.
5. Using this resistance, exhale and lift up through your chest and heels, creating length in the front body. Do not drop the head back! Instead, gaze directly in front of you in order to keep your neck long and protect that area of the spine.
6. Pull your belly in and activate your abdominal muscles to lift a little higher, but stay in the posture once you've found a place where the breath is comfortable.
7. Hold this posture for five to 10 breaths.
Bridge pose stimulates the thyroid by compressing the neck, which encourages healthy circulation to the gland. To perform:
- Lying flat with your arms alongside you, bend your knees and place feet down flat, as close to your bottom as possible. Make sure that your feet are hip-width distance apart.
- Pressing firmly into the feet, inhale as you lift your hips toward the ceiling as high as you can. You will start to feel your neck compressing.
- Press into the arms and shoulders to lift your chest higher. If you’re comfortable, you can interlace your fingers underneath your hips for an added chest-opening stretch.
- Hold the posture for five to ten full, deep breaths.
Another thyroid-stimulating posture, plow pose will also help to give you a nice shoulder, back, and hamstring stretch in the morning, all while boosting your metabolism. In this pose, honor where your body is today. The hamstrings can be quite tight in the morning or if you haven't stretched in a while, so make sure that you're not over-extending. If you need to keep your knees bent, or your feet don't touch the ground or bed behind you, that's OK. Relax into the posture wherever you are. To practice this posture:
- From bridge, bring your hands to your lower back for support and begin to lift your legs overhead.
- Bring your feet down slowly behind you. Remember, if they don't come down to touch, that's ok. Try to imagine drawing the tops of your thighs up toward the ceiling while pressing through the balls of your feet so that your feet are active and toes are pointing down towards the ground.
- Let the feet come down as far as they can. You may feel an intense sensation in the hamstrings, but don’t go so far as to feel uncomfortable. You should be able to breathe calmly wherever you are in this pose. Eventually, when you are open enough, your toes will come down behind your head.
- Stay in this pose for five to 10 breaths.
It is absolutely essential to practice fish pose after plow pose to counter stretch the work done in the neck and spine! Fish pose elongates neck and chest and stretches the area of the thyroid, helping to balance the compression of the previous postures. To practice:
- From plow pose, slowly lower your legs down in front of you and tuck your hands underneath your bottom, with your palms pressing down and your fingertips facing your toes.
- Lift your chest up and arch the middle of your back up toward the ceiling, bringing the crown of your head down. Make sure to press firmly into your arms so that there is not much weight resting on your head or neck.
- Stay in this pose for five to 10 breaths.
We always end our yoga practice with the most important posture: Savasana, or corpse pose. Take at least five minutes to ground yourself in this pose before beginning the day. That's what real self-care is all about! To practice:
- Lie flat on your back with your palms up, extending the legs long and arms alongside you.
- Close your eyes and relax, taking full, deep, belly breaths.
- Stay in the pose for five minutes, breathing intentionally.