Yoga Poses and Their Benefits V: The Endocrine System
Yoga poses that induce the Endocrine Glands
The endocrine system, together with the nervous system, regulates all the activities of the body. The endocrine glands influence the function of the body by releasing hormones into the blood stream. Hormones are chemicals that modify the activities of particular cells, and eventually affect the body’s tissues and organs. They adjust metabolic operations in response to what is available and what the body needs. They also influence growth, maturation, sexual development, pregnancy and response to stress.
There are seven major endocrine glands in the body: pineal, pituitary, thyroid and parathyroid (separate but located together), thymus, pancreas, adrenals and gonads. Each of these glands produce particular hormones, which affect the body differently. The pituitary gland is the master of all the glands, it releases hormones that regulate and influence all their functions.
There are many disorders that derive from the endocrine system. Most of the linked with either too much or, more commonly, too little production of hormones. The result of this hyper- or hypo activity means damage to other systems the body. There are specific yoga techniques that may aid in regulating these conditions. The goal of any yoga practice in relation to the endocrine system is to restore and maintain balance. E.g. For hypo-functioning of a gland we want to stimulate the area of that gland, and for hyper-functioning we would want to soften and relax that same area.
Every system, organ, tissue and cell is guided by hormones. Asanas may help to balance the hormonal secretions from the glands. By twisting and bending the body, and holding different positions or placing continuos pressure on specific areas, the glands may be stimulated which may help to regulate their functions. For example, in the shoulder stand followed by fish pose, the contraction and then opening of the neck muscles and the pressure of the chin to the chest brings circulation to the the area of the thyroid and parathyroid glands. The bow pose and wheel pose similarly affect the adrenal glands, by brining circulation into their specific area. Headstand, shoulder stand, bridge pose, recline bound angle pose and reclined hero’s pose are poses that may be beneficial to maintaining the proper functions of the gonads or sexual glands.