This is a three-part series on spinal health awareness, where we cover the major yoga movements that influence spinal health, the science of inversions and its impact on our nervous system and yoga postures for a healthy thyroid.
“If you would seek health, look first to the spine” – a comment that Socrates is known to have made more than 2,000 years ago still rings true. Even today, every major fitness expert has something to say about spinal health and one of the most powerful statements is by Joseph Pilates, who invented the Pilates method of physical fitness, “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old, if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.”
Yogic science refers to the spine as “Merudanda” or axis of the body. Ancient yogis paid full and complete attention to the spine, whether it was with eyes open or with eyes closed. And you will see this reflected in all of the 84 basic asanas that were meticulously designed bearing the spine in mind. The yogic seers also understood that the best way to keep the spine healthy and supple was to provide it with its optimum range of movement.
If you were alien to the practice of yoga inversions until recently, Anushka Sharma’s pregnancy headstand practice may have possibly changed that. Not only is it exhilarating to watch a pregnant celebrity go upside down (responsibly, of course), but it also hints at the significance of including inversions as part of regular yoga practice. But here’s the thing – many new practitioners love watching people invert, but shy away from attempting themselves.
In this segment, I want to emphasise not only on the importance of inversions but also how they relate to our spinal health. We dig a little deeper and go beyond movement into physiological and therapeutic benefits that inversions bring via the spine to the overall system.
Watch Part 2: Science Of Yoga Inversions
Our neck region is a connecting link between our brain and rest of the body. It needs special attention and care. Of the eight major endocrine glands, the thyroid is one of the largest and most crucial, responsible for releasing hormones that regulate metabolism, growth, energy usage, body temperature apart from other crucial aspects.
Yoga can act as an effective preventative therapy for thyroid illness. All the 84 basic postures and different breathing techniques help stimulate endocrinal activity and reduce stress by calming down the nervous system. Out of these, several specific postures are designed to positively stimulate the neck region, which is achieved through breathwork, mindfulness and stretching of the neck in different directions to increase blood and energy supply to that area. If practised consistently, yogic practices can also be a supportive therapy in managing an existing thyroid condition.