Yoga not only plays an important role in maintaining our health but, also has a very good effect on our endocrine system. In the present times due to the hectic lifestyle that one leads, one sees lot of hormonal problems.
Some of the health issues faced by both men and women are hormonal changes, underactive or overactive thyroid and hormonal imbalance. Increase cortisol level, insulin deficiency or insulin resistance, early puberty and early menopause are few hormonal disorders that women face.
It’s therefore good to know more about the endocrine system.
Endocrine system is called endocrine because the hormones are directly released in to the blood stream and carried to the cells. Endocrine system is a collection of glands that releases a chemical called hormone which Is released into the circulatory system and carried to the targeted cells.
Why endocrine system is so much important for us ?
Endocrine system helps to maintain body’s homeostasis ( balance). Metabolism, growth , sexual development, mental growth, mineral balance, heart rate regulation, setting our sleep cycle, muscular and skeletal growth are the functions of endocrine gland.
Role of hypothalamus
Hypothalamus is a part of brain that is responsible for the direct control of endocrine system through pituitary gland. Hypothalamus is also the centre of emotions and is affected by strong emotions, odour, powerful thoughts, taste, stress, laughter etc.
Pituitary gland is the master gland controlling the whole endocrine system, pineal gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, thymus gland, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries, testes are the part of the endocrine system. The hypothalamus sends signals to pituitary gland which then releases chemicals to stimulate the hormones from other endocrine glands. So this will work like Hypothalamus–pituitary-organ pathway.
Lets now understand the role of yoga in controlling the hormonal system?
Pranayam : has a very good effect on endocrine system. Pranayam means stretching , modifying and lengthening the breath. Pranayam has dual benefits. In Pranayam when you control your breath it controls both your mind and your body. During Pranayam we supply more oxygen to the lungs which is transported to each and every cells of the body. The blood supply and the oxygen supply also increases to the brain and hypothalamus thereby improving the functioning of the brain and hypothalamus. One can control the stress and emotions in a better way because stress can disturb the functioning of hypothalamus. Pranayama improves the relationship between hypothalamus –pituitary and the other glands and thus the entire endocrine system is balanced.
Yog Nidra or Yogic sleep: Is great way to control stress and emotion. It is not about going to shavasana and just sleeping but stay awake and control your thoughts, control your senses, replace negative thoughts with positive ones and relax and energize your mind and body. Yognidra will improve the functioning of brain, hypothalamus and the relationship between hypothalamus and pituitary and other endocrine gland.
Yogic Poses: like Sirsasana, standing forward bend increases blood flow to brain an improves the functioning of brain and hypothalamus along with improving the functioning of pituitary and pineal gland. Halasana and shoulder stand improve the functioning of thyroid and parathyroid gland. Ardh matsendra sana and balasana will stimulate pancreas for the release of insulin and glucagon from pancreas .setubandhasana and bhujangasana will stimulate testes and overies .