Sunday, December 23, 2012

Yoga, Thyroid, and the (potential) dangers if you push too far

Today's NYTimes has an article on the dangers of yoga, for men, as written by the man who wrote this year's "Science of Yoga," (who is also a yogi and a writer for the NYTimes). He talks about competitive yoga (sounds like an oxymoron to me) and other ways in which men either push themselves or their instructors push them too hard (btw, he doesn't ignore women in the article, but the focus is men).

When I teach, one of the first things I say to my classes (after we warm up, because, doggone it, I don't believe you can do yoga without being thoroughly warmed up) is that they need to listen to their bodies. If it even feels like it might start *thinking* about hurting, they need to stop and not do it or pull way back to try it safely.

To me, yoga is about being where you are today. It won't be where you were yesterday and it won't be where you will be tomorrow. So, the important thing is to pay attention to what is happening in your body, mind, and spirit right now. If you consistently practice, you will see benefits, and likely, poses that are challenging or impossible to you now will become easier in time. That is the point. Yoga (imo) isn't something to do once a week. It is really something like brushing your teeth. When I get up, I brush my teeth, every single day. That is how I do yoga. Every single day. It's not always an intense hour-long practice. Sometimes, it's five or ten minutes, but I step on the mat, at least for a little while. Every single day.

Being hypothyroid means that I need to do less exercise (very little aerobic because that messes with my thyroid's calm and makes me dip more into hypothyroid land) but I have found that yoga helps me retain balance, strength, and flexibility and even heart health since yes I do raise my heart rate with some of the more challenging poses even if I am not running or jumping to get my aerobics in. Try plank pose on your elbows and toes and try holding it for a minute. (Keep breathing naturally and make sure your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Make sure your butt doesn't rise and that your shoulder blades are broad along your back. Keep your neck aligned with the rest of your spine, your butt flat, and your legs straight so as to not injure yourself. Push your heels toward the back of the room. And remember, if it even feels like it might start thinking about hurting, lower down and rest. Don't overdo. That's not what this is about.) By the end of that minute, you will be very grateful and your heart will be pounding hard.

Even if you do a little but do it every day, you will reap enormous benefits and not just physically. But, pushing yourself can definitely lead to injury so that is the less optimal way to practice. Do it today and tomorrow and the next day and pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you as you sit or stand or lie in a pose and you will be present and eventually by being present, you will progress.


  1. To the person who commented and asked me to email her about the blog. Provide a working email address and I will.

  2. I am so happy that so many people with hypothyroidism are taking a stand and spreading awareness! I am a 25 year old female and I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism about 3 years ago. I too started a blog recently about my experience being “hypo”. This website is full of great information so far…keep up the good work! Who Would have thought that yoga could help with thyroid ailments.

    1. Good for you for starting your blog and for speaking out. It's insidious, isn't it to be hypothyroid? We have little outward appearance of having any health issues but oh we can.

      I've found yoga to be instrumental in dealing with my hypothyroidism, especially since I am treating it without meds.

      Good luck to you!

    2. Hi Izolda... I am also hypo and just stumbled across this. I wondered if you aren't on meds, how do you treat it? I am very interested in holistic health and I take a formula to suport thyroid and adrenals right now but I am still on synthroid. I wondered if you are taking a glandular?
      Thanks! Steph

  3. What great information about yoga. Obviously it can be harmful if we don’t do this properly. I think we should do this exercise with a talented trainer to prevent any health risk.

  4. Clearly, this is a good idea for thyroid treatment. Yoga not only works well for thyroid treatment, but it also makes your health better.
      I have a blog to share about "How to treat hypothyroidism naturally?" you can see more information

  5. Hi,
    Your blog is very inspiring and lots of information and gives hope!
    I had all symptoms of hypothyroid for the past 3 yrs but test results were ok until last yr. but this yr TSH was 6.9 and along with that my cholestrol is also high. which has always been normal and i am thin, actually struggled to gain wt.
    i tried yoga last yr just becos i needed exercise and also had to maintain or gain wt. but due to yoga had some knee issues. but planning to start now carefully.
    last few days i have been even more depressed after the test results and your blog gives me hope and makes me feel better. when i tell my husband or my mom about how tired and depressed i am i didn't get any help. the doctors never did anything. very true about how we should take care of ourself first. i always took care of the kids and house and husband. now realizing it. thanks for all the inspiring posts.

  6. You are most welcome. Remember, to take it slow as you exercise. For people with hypothyroidism, a lot of exercise can be counterproductive and can make you more tired and it can make you gain weight. Thinking good thoughts for you.

  7. Just found out that I have Hashimoto's Disease. Am looking for as much info as I can. Thanks for your blog, no-one has told me about the whole exercise thing.


Please Note

Welcome to Natural Thyroid. This blog details my process of treating my hypothyroidism naturally. Please note: I am not telling you *to* do or not to do anything with my posts (remember to work with your medical practitioner, whether it's an allopath or an alternative medicine practitioner).