Subclinical or mild hypothyroidism is a mild form of underactive thyroid that may or may not get better without treatment. Doctors are divided about starting thyroid medication to treat subclinical hypothyroidism. Interestingly, certain yoga poses can help improve thyroid function. So, if you have mild hypothyroidism and is contemplating treatment, try the yoga poses mentioned in this article to improve thyroid function without medication.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of your neck. Normal functioning of the thyroid is super important for many bodily functions, including regulating heart rate, body temperature, lipid levels, and many other aspects of proper metabolism.
T3 and T4 are the hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Another hormone, TSH produced by the pituitary gland, stimulates the thyroid when T3 and T4 drop low.
An underactive thyroid results in a condition called “hypothyroidism”. This means the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones required by the body to function properly.
Your thyroid gland is underactive and not producing enough hormones when,
- Your TSH levels are higher than normal (0.5 to 5mIU/L is the normal range)
- Free T4 levels are lower than normal
This means the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones your body needs, so the pituitary gland secretes more TSH to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more hormones.
However, there are cases when TSH levels are high, but Free T4 is normal. Such a condition is called subclinical or mild hypothyroidism, especially when your TSH does not exceed 10mIU/L.
A medication to treat mild hypothyroidism is highly debated. Many doctors prefer observing the patient for a few months before starting on synthetic thyroid (Levothyroxine).
Here yoga can be of help.
Yoga for mild hypothyroidism
From managing very specific conditions such as scoliosis to providing general health, yoga can help in more ways than you think.
Some yoga poses are helpful to make thyroid functioning better. Hence, if you have mild hypothyroidism, you can try those yoga asanas for about a month.
You can then retake a thyroid test. And, if the numbers are encouraging, there is a good chance your thyroid gland is functioning better, and you should continue the exercises.
Also, other lifestyle habits, including diets, can help improve thyroid health.
You can discuss with your doctor about other healthy choices and follow them regularly to ensure the proper functioning of the thyroid.
Eight yoga poses to treat mild underactive thyroid (subclinical hypothyroidism)
The yoga asanas mentioned below improve blood circulation in the neck area and stimulate the thyroid gland. The first three compresses your front neck muscles, and the next three stretches your neck. The last two are relaxing poses.
#1 Bridge pose
Setu Bandhasana (bridge pose) compresses your front neck and stimulates the thyroid gland.
- Lie down on your back.
- Bend your knees and bring your feet close to your butt, hip-width apart
- Press your palms on the floor behind the heels
- On an inhale, lift your hips off the floor
- Continue to lift your lower back, middle back and upper back
- Stay there breathing normally
- After a couple of breaths, exhale and bring down your body one vertebrae at a time, starting with the upper back, middle back and lower back and rest
#2 Plough pose
The plough pose or Halasana also compresses your front neck and stimulates the thyroid.
- Lie down on your back with arms resting beside you with palms down
- Inhale and lift both your legs up towards the ceiling by engaging your abdominal muscles and pressing down on your arms
- Proceed to lift the hips off the floor with your legs still straight but toes pointing towards the back of the room
- Continue with the engagement, exhale and release the toes to touch the floor beyond your head
- Stay here for a few breaths
- To release from the pose, inhale to lift the legs up and exhale to bring your body back to a supine position slowly.
As the name suggests (Sarva – all; angam – body part), Sarvangasana is the queen of asanas and is helpful for all the organs of your body. This is an inversion pose, and here blood flow to the thyroid gland is improved, which is beneficial for its efficient functioning.
- While lying down on your back, inhale and lift your legs and then your hips off the floor, just as you did for the plough pose
- But instead of lowering your legs towards the back of the mat, continue to lift towards the ceiling
- Use your hands to support your back as you proceed to lift further that your body becomes one straight line resting on your shoulders
- Stay here and breathe normally
- Slowly bring your body down as you exhale
In all of the above poses, you can feel the back of your neck is stretched with the front (throat region) is compressed. And the following poses act as a counterbalance by stretching the front of the neck.
Also Read: 10 Easy Yoga Poses To Relieve Neck And Shoulder Pain
#4 Fish pose
Matsyasana or the fish pose stretches the front neck area and enables better functioning of the thyroid.
- Lie down on your back and breath normally
- Press your palms on the floor, lift your upper body off the floor on an inhale, supporting on your forearms
- On the next exhale, release your neck such that your crown of the head touches the floor with your forearms still bearing your weight
- You will be able to feel the front of your upper body elongate and the neck getting an excellent stretch
- Stay in this position for a couple of breaths and release slowly back to the normal position by lifting your upper body up and then lowering down to the floor
#5 Cobra pose
Bhujangasana or the cobra pose compresses and stretches the neck and is a beneficial yoga pose for mild hypothyroidism.
- Turn over to lie down on your abdomen and pause for a few breaths with your forehead on the floor
- Place your palm close to your chest. Inhale and lift your chest off the floor, harnessing the strength of your back muscles with the palms on the floor for support
- Stretch your neck backwards so you can fee the stretch but not too hard
- Stay in this cobra position for a few breaths before lowering down back to a prone position on an exhale
#6 Camel pose
Camel pose is great for posture and strengthening your back. It also stretches the entire front body, including the neck and helps stimulate thyroid function.
- Stand on your knees with your feet extended back
- Keep your knees, hips and shoulders straight and in one line
- Hold the back of your hip and gently push your thighs and hips forward on an inhale
- Exhale and on the next inhale, close in your elbows and bring your chest forward while tossing your head back
- You must feel the stretch in your neck, and you can stretch back as much as you can
- Stay in this position for a few breaths
- Exhale and slowly bring back your head to normal position and relax in the child’s pose
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#7 Legs up the wall
Legs up the wall is a beginner-friendly inversion asana where blood flow to the thyroid gland increases. Apart from stimulating the thyroid, the pose is great for de-stressing your body and mind.
- Sit with your side close to a wall
- Slowly turn your body towards the wall by raising your legs and resting them on the wall
- Aim to keep your butt close to the wall as much as possible
- You can also place a bolster to support your lower back
- Remain in this position for a good 10 minutes with normal breathing
The asana is not only good for the thyroid but is a great restorative pose.
Once you are done with the above set, rest in the neutral position of Savasana to reap the benefits of these poses. Spread your feet as wide as the mat, allow your arms to rest naturally by your sides, and relax every part of your body to conclude your practice.
Some of the poses, such as Sarvangasana, might not be accessible to an absolute beginner to yoga, but you can start with the ones you are able to do comfortably. Plus, if you are a beginner, it is better to learn these poses from a qualified teacher rather than trying out on your own to make sure you are doing it correctly and avoid any injury.
The bottom line
Mild hypothyroidism signified by normal Free T4 and raised TSH may not need synthetic thyroid hormone (Levothyroxine) as treatment. Yoga practice and a good diet can be beneficial for mild hypothyroidism and will help your thyroid function normally. However, you must work with your doctor, who will periodically monitor thyroid levels. If the numbers are not getting back to normal even after a few months, you may need thyroid medication.