We like to enjoy a massage session once in a while – it’s soothing for the muscles, ligaments and tendons and pacifying for the nervous system. But think of the organs also needing a glandular massage…
Yoga perhaps offers the most comprehensive toolkit of asana and practices that directly stimulate the endocrine system. Every time we invert, twist, bend and cross the meridians of the body through binds and torsion we put pressure on the various glands and bolster their secretions. The glands release healthy hormones into the blood stream and carry them to the cells to nurture the organs. Due to the accelerated pace we function and our hectic lifestyle we all suffer from various hormonal disorders like underactive or overactive thyroid, increased cortisol levels, insulin deficiency or insulin resistance. All of us, both men and women face hormonal changes with age. Women are subject to early puberty or menopause, while men suffer from conditions like lower sex drive and erectile dysfunction, prostate enlargement, etc.
I always think of the endocrine system as the complex symphony of the glands. It is also fascinating that they are ductless – they pass their secretions directly to the blood or lymph, which makes them very malleable for yoga postures and practices. When the body assumes that asana, the glands are squeezed to absorb the blood as they release the needed hormones to maintain every organ’s optimal heath.
Asanas affect every aspect of our being – body, mind and soul. They balance the secretions from various glands, relax and tone up the muscles and the nervous system, stimulate circulation, stretch stiff ligaments and tendons, limber the joints, massage the internal organs and calm and focus the mind. Gradually the body gets accustomed to this limbering symphony, and naturally folds through flowing motions and deep breathing to afford the cells plenty of oxygen. Just picture shoulder stand, for example…
The contraction of the neck muscles, combined with the pressure of the chin on the chest squeezes blood out of the thyroid and parathyroid glands. In Fish pose, which usually follows Shoulder Stand, the glands are stretched and flooded with blood. The combination of these two poses effectively massages and stimulates the glands – improving their functions.
The pressure of the elbows into the belly in Peacock pose directly regulates the adrenal glands. The Bow pose and the Wheel pose affect the adrenal glands too, and the Eagle pose promotes blood supply throughout the gonads – the sexual glands. The reclining twists squeeze toxins out the liver, kidneys and spleen and flood the brain with oxygen. Different asanas are prescribed to strengthen and regulate the secretion of different glands – so that many common ailments can be alleviated and the body’s harmony restored.
Asanas become like recipes for the secretion of every gland. But sometimes doing them separately doesn’t give you a total stimulation of the endocrine system. Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a sequential glandular trip from top to bottom, so you can learn the exercises by heart in logical progression? Yes, it would be awesome… and that is exactly what this sequence offers – a series of ten practices that incorporate asana, deep breathing and tapping to promote total wellness.
Doing this brief sequence once a week will ensure full organ massage and will coach you into learning the functions of the different glands and the poses and breathing practices they can benefit from.
Then, you will easily remember that when you sit in Easy pose and press your thumbs into the midbrain you are stimulating the hypothalamus and spreading growth hormones to nurture every organ. And when you run your fingers over the fontanel and down the back of the skull you are actually boosting the production of melatonin and regulating your sleep pattern. When you open your chin in chalice mudra while in Puppy pose you are controlling the metabolism that also governs the way your body uses energy, consume oxygen and produces heat. When you stick your tongue in tiger breath you activate the parathyroid gland and control your phosphorus and calcium levels in the bones. When you open your chest in camel pose and the thump your thymus you are bolstering your immunity and stimulating the lymphatic system. As you sit and twist you get the pancreatic gland to regulate sugar levels and you cleanse your liver. And every cobra pose smile ensures proper cardio vascular function as you help the body distribute stored fat and you promote its healthy gastrointestinal function. Did you know that a simple Frog pose will fire up your se life – maintaining fertility and libido and promoting healthy levels of muscle and bone mass. And finally, a simple lifting of your legs up the wall will nourish your nervous system and restore your optimal glandular balance.
What a beautiful orchestration! Knowing that your body has the power to heal and renew its self any moment, and learning how to navigate through the glandular symphony and sail ashore – into the land of Glad Glands and Glad Tidings!
Hormonal Balance Yoga practices and asana: Glad Glands (open level)
This is a sequential flow of practices that incorporate deep breathing, yoga asana and tapping to stimulate your glands from top to bottom. Starting in a seated position while triggering the pressure points on the forehead and back of the skull boosts the production of human growth and relaxation hormones. Practicing chalice mudra in Puppy pose opens up the throat and allows the thyroid glands to control metabolism and oxygen consumption. Intense tiger and fire breath bolster the parathyroids and regulate the calcium and phosphorus levels in the bones. Kneeling heart-openers and tapping into the thymus boost immunity. Sharp twists through the lower belly catalyze the pancreatic gland to control sugar levels. The adrenals are stimulated in Cs`obra pose to ensure healthy cardio-vascular and gastro-intestinal functions. The gonads are stimulated in Frog Pose and to enhance libido and procreativity. An inverted relaxation stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system response and makes your “glands”…. “glad”.