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.
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).