Effective control of endocrine glands is the key to a healthy body and an active mind.
The 7 Endocrine Glands
There are seven (7) endocrine glands located at different portions within our body. They are prostate, gonads, pancreas, adrenals (Suprarenals), thymus, pineal, thyroid, and the pituitary gland.
What do these Glands Perform?
These endocrine glands have very vital roles to perform. They are inter-related with one another. These glands secrete and regulate hormones (energizing juices) into our bloodstreams.
Functions of Hormones
The hormones (energizing juices) regulate some of the most important biological activities of our bodies. They also greatly affect our minds and bodies.
The hormones control birth, pregnancy, metabolism, sexual power, size, weight, energy, growth besides coordinating many of our body systems.
Consequences of Hormonal Imbalances
Whenever there is an imbalance (deficiency or excess secretion) in the secretion of the hormones, we suffer from many disorders.
How does yoga affect the hormones?
Pranayama (breathing) exercises and other yogic postures and rectify such imbalances of the endocrine glands. These yogic asanas create a harmonious growth of these glands and thus ensure the total health of the entire body and the mind. For a sound mind can reside only in a healthy body.
The Prostrate glands
The prostrate is a male sexual gland. This gland supplies the fluid to carry the sperms. It is shaped like a chestnut. The prostate is situated all across the neck of the bladder. The prostrate gland surrounds the urethra in the pelvic area.
Another name for the gonads is ‘testes’. The gonads are the male reproductive glands. In males, they are located in the scrotum while among the women the gonads are located in the ovaries. The ovaries are situated low down in the female pelvic area. These gonads regulate reproduction and the development of the female sexual organs. Hence the gonad secretions regulate not just sexuality and the physical appearance but also the menstrual cycle besides, of course pregnancy.
The yogic asanas that stimulate and keep the gonads healthy are Sarvangasana, Aswini Mudra, Paschimotanasana, Uddiyana, Ushtrasana and Ardha Matsyendrasana.
The pancreas is located just below the tummy. It regulates the storage capacity and utilization rate of sugar which is quite essential for generating energy. The pancreas secretes insulin which in turn regulates the blood glucose level. Mentionably, pancreas also stimulates and regulates glucagon which is a primary means to maintain the glucose balance in the blood.
If the body produces very less sugar or if the produced insulin is having some defects, the consequence is high blood sugar (generally known as Diabetes Mellitus).
The yogic asanas that tone up the pancreas are Uddiyana, Paschimotanasana, Yoga Mudra and Halasana.
The Adrenals (Suprarenals)
The Adrenals (Suprarenals) have immense effects over the sex glands as well as metabolism of minerals and glucose. The Adrenals secrete three types of hormones. These hormones serve a three-pronged purpose: maintaining the body equilibrium and also the normal blood pressure besides toning up the body for all forms of exigencies. The Adrenals (Suprarenals) are made up of two tiny glands which are triangular in shape. The adrenals are located atop the kidneys – one on each side. Each Adrenal is has two layers and is approximately two inches in length.
The yogic asanas that keep the adrenals in good shape are Uddiyana, Halasana, Bhujangasana, Dhanurasana, Ushtrasana and Ardha Matsyendrasana.
The Thymus plays a vital role during our childhood. This gland strengthens the physical immune system. Therefore, the Thymus acts as the sentinel against all ailments up to puberty.
During our childhood, the Thymus ensures normal development and growth of our bodies by checking hardening of bones and their premature mineralization.
The Thymus gland is located between the two lungs and just above the heart. It is situated in the upper part of the chest and the lower part of the neck. The Thymus atrophies (withers away) during late adolescence.
The Thyroid is also known as the ‘pacemaker’ as it regulates metabolism. Located in the front portion of the neck on the either side of the voice box (larynx), the thyroid keeps healthy the tissues and the nerves. The thyroid secretion controls oxidation (the use of oxygen) by the tissue cells.
Whenever there is excess secretion by the thyroid, we suffer from several disorders. The prominent among them are a highly strung nervous temperament, fast pace heart action, too much of sweating, and weight loss. On the other hand if the thyroid secretes less than what is required, the metabolism power of the body slows down. As a result, the activity of our nervous system also slows down and fat starts settling down in the tissues.
The Parathyroid glands: These glands remain close to the thyroid or at times remain enveloped in the thyroid gland. The Parathyroid glands look after the metabolism equilibrium of our body. This crucial function is carried out regulating the activity and distribution of phosphate and calcium in the blood. Both phosphate and calcium ensure healthy and strong bones.
The most beneficial asanas to tone up these glands are the Sarvangasana, Jalandhara Bandha, Matsyasana, Bhujangasana, Ushtrasana, and Halasana.
The Pineal in the roof plate of the forebrain is a tiny gland of the size of a pea. It is located behind the eyebrows and below the pituitary gland.
The Pineal secretion is believed to play a pivotal role in the general growth of the body and also of the reproductive system.
The asanas stimulating this gland are the Aswini Mudra, Matsyasana, Sarvangasana, Viparita Karani and Sirshasana.
The Pituitary gland is the ‘Master gland of the endocrine symphony’. It is responsible for the secretions of the remaining endocrine glands.
This gland is situated just behind the nose root and in the central portion of the head right at the skull base.
While on one hand the pituitary gland checks the growth of excess flab on the other the pituitary gland also regulates the functioning of different organs and parts of the body. The pituitary gland controls the functioning of the kidneys, lactation, birth, pregnancy, menstruation, metabolism and also the pressure in the blood vessels besides the reproductive system. Therefore, the pituitary gland aids the harmonic development of our bodies.
Moreover, this gland mobilizes the antibodies and the white blood cells and thereby protects the body from various ailments.
The different asanas beneficial for the pituitary gland are Aswini Mudra, Matsyasana, Viparita Karani, and Sarvangasana.