Yoga and Health
Swami Adhyatmananda

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The glands inside our body work much more than the senses we observe outside of our body We can perhaps make a statement tat inside in depth of our heart an unfathomable and immense ocean is throwing up its waves in a much greater proportion than the ocean tat we observe outside.

The breathing system and blood circulation system, digestive system, genito-urinary system and bone structure keep the body working. In addition to these, there are many glands which secrete hormones internally One of them, of great importance, is ‘thyroid gland’. This thyroid gland is situated inside our neck and has a shape of a butterfly it weighs around 16 to 24 Gms. During the last several years much information has been collected about various types of diseases of malfunctioning of the thyroid gland. That is exactly the reason why, although the matter looks small, all the details assume big importance. These details must not be neglected.

There is one hospital situated at Adipur near Bhuj city in Kachha district of Gujarat. This body is managed by local divine life society One doctor named “Ruchani” was a chief medical officer of this hospital. One day while driving he felt that there was darkness spreading before his eyes. Luckily at that time the road was carrying no traffic and he could stop the car on one side. What happened was momentary! But what could happen, if there was ‘heavy traffic? On the spur of the moment we could not understand the reason but after necessary medical examination and investigations it was established that he suffered from a serious thyroid problem.

The food we eat has many salts. Out of this iodine element reaches the thyroid gland through blood. Out of the iodine sucked and collected by the gland, hormones named T3 (tri-iodo - thyronin) and T4 (Thyroxin) are manufactured. These manufactured nutritive hormones circulate in the blood and reach various organs of the body These hormones enhance the activity of metabolism in the body, thereby all the organs and tissues connected with the organs and its metabolism get activated.

Thyroid is an endocrine gland. This gland works in a manner similar to air-condition plant. When the metabolic system works more than required, internal secreting gland forces in lesser secretions, thereby creating a balance in its activity and maintaining proportion of metabolic rate in the body.

When we want to welcome bride-groom at the entrance of the marriage pandal or when we want to welcome saints at our home, we welcome them by applying a 'Tilaka" at the place between two eyebrows. What could be the reason for applying an "Tilaka" only at this place on such a broad forehead? Under our brain, in the head a gland called pituitary gland is located. This gland by secreting TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormones) controls the working of the thyroid gland. When the thyroid hormones are compara­tively lesser than required in the body then TSH secretes more and thyroid gland tries to maintain the required proportion of T3 and T4, just similarly when the amount of hormones goes beyond the requirement, pituitary TSH stops from manufacturing thyroid hormones. In this fashion both, these glands control the secretion by each relying on the other. Whenever anyone of the glands, out of these two, develops a defect the other gland also suffers in performing its duty. The effects of either gland is felt on the working capacity of the body and perfect ness of its working suffers heavily.

When the thyroid gland functions lesser than required, this condition is called hypo-thyroidism. However if thyroid works more than required amount that condition is known as hyper-thyroidism. When the gland works properly it is known as euthyroidism. The gland can have swelling, tumor or even cancer under the latter circumstances the gland works in an irregular manner. So it either works more or less. As a man ages his thyroid gland results in very big effects in its working capacity. In many circumstances it so happens that when this gland starts working less in aged people, the functioning of the body becomes irregular and such patients exhibit different types of abnormal symptoms. If a very young child suffers from this disease the child remains lazy A trio of Honorary Assistant professor of endocrinology from NHL municipal medical college of Ahmedabad and of Sheth Vadilal Sarabhai Hospital Shree Jayeshbhai Sheth, Ph.D. and his colleague tonsultant pa­thologist Dr. Bipin Shah, M.D. and the well-known family physician Dr. Niranjanbhai have undertaken the study of hypo-thyroidism in Gujarat by collection of data from examining 40,000 patients. The summary of the results is as follows:

1.   The patient will always feel idle, remain lazy will have no interest in any work and even during the day he will feel sleepy

2.   Patient’s body will have swelling, he will go on adding to his weight. These symptoms are discernible in most of the patients. Swelling will be mainly observed under eyes and on faces as well as on legs. It is not of any importance to know what and how much the patient eats, even if he eats less his body weight will increase.

3.   The patient hardly feels any hunger and constipation becomes chronic

4.   Ladies loose hair, skin gets dry and moisture less, itching may also be observed.

5.   Ladies get very irregular menstruation. Sometimes the incapacity of the working of thyroid can be the only cause of barren-ness.

6.   One may feel suffocation in the neck, the sound may become heavy, and sound may not emerge out. This can be a daily occurrence. Ordinary treatment may not cause any improvement. Face may become pale, and one becomes sorrowful.

7.   Mental power reduces. Memory reduces. One finds no interest in performing any work. Concentration is re­duced. Man may become inefficient in his business. His working capacity will suffer and ebb.

8.   When one becomes sorrowful one may get depression. When such symptoms are noticed after pregnancy in ladies, between 5 to 30 % of the ladies have an irregularly working thyroid gland.

9.     Endurance capacity reduces. Even if a slight increase in cold is observed or the atmosphere feels cooler, the desire to put on warm clothes increases; one cannot do without covering the body when sleeping, one cannot bear the working of fan or an air conditioner.

10.   The working capacity of the heart reduces. The beating of the heart and pumping capacity reduce which can result in further diseases.

By having a bird’s eye-view of all these symptoms, it can be understood that in the condition of hypo-thyroidism all the activities of the body slow down and flaccidity results.

Newborn children show this disease by altogether different symptoms. In this disease newborn babies get an effect of slowing down their bodily development as well as mental development. Such children are found slow in all the processes pertaining to the development after birth. If this disease is diagnosed in time and properly treated the new­born babies would develop like normal babies. Therefore if on birth the children have any symptoms of laziness or paucity of normal development, these children should be properly and immediately treated. If this is done, then their life will be fully lustrous. A general survey has revealed that one child out of 3000 newborn babies suffers from the ailment of hypo-thyroidism. This is known as congenital hypo-thyroidism. Such children lead a life of death-like condition. In all the developed countries, it is normal to get the thyroid scanning performed for each newborn baby. The later the diagnosis, the more the effect on development process of the brain hence if any defect is noticed in the scanning immediate and proper treatment should be given.

When the thyroid gland becomes overactive, the body works with extra speed and the speed is more than the necessary speed. This over activity results in so many changes and defects:

(i)      Weight reduces. The only reason is that the thyroid gland works at an increased level. Although one may be regular in in-take of food, weight goes on reducing.

(ii)     Heart beats more and one feels confused.

(iii)   Sometimes such patients look as if they have big eyes and their eyeballs are projecting. In this condition it is also possible that both the eyeballs can lean on one side.

(iv)    One does not digest the food well, resulting in diarrhea.

(v)     Body feels trembling. Anything held in the hand may not be held with ease. Hands also may tremble. The trembling of the hands is quite visible.

(vi)    There is sleeplessness. Mind is confused. The nature becomes peevish. Mental imbalance increases.

(vii)    Ladies can have symptoms of irregularity in menses with more profuse bleeding.

(viii) One may find a swelling on thyroid gland in the neck. (ix) One may feel warm, one may perspire profusely hairs starts falling.

(x)     The condition of the eyeballs jutting out is called ‘Exophthalmic Grave’.

(xi)    As we have earlier observed the thyroid gland depends on supply of iodine for manufacture of hormones. Body gets this iodine from daily food intake. Our body needs around hundred to hundred fifty micro-grams of iodine. Quite a few areas like hilly tracks, places on riverbanks cannot supply enough iodine to the body because of denudation of the land. Under such circum­stances thyroid gland becomes bigger because of greater working capacity required. This condition is known as goiter.

Over the whole area of Asia 500 million people live in places, which are deficit in iodine and 200 million people, suffer from shortage of iodine. In our country Bharat, 120 million people live in areas, which are deficit in iodine. In such areas because newborn babies suffer from shortage of iodine, the development of their both physical and mental organs is not enough. The shortage of iodine in food can be corrected by use of salt where iodine is added; one can add iodine in oil used for food, in milk etc. That is the reason m our country salt is sold after adding iodine. It is advisable that people in all areas consume this type of salt. In all the western countries and nations, there is an awareness of need for iodine in food.

When a patient exhibits goiter, the gland can either work more or less than normal proportion. This can be examined by testing thyroid hormones (T3, T4, TSH) some patients require thyroid antibodies to enable the estimation of extent of damage to the gland.

Many a times, it is observed that the proportion of iodine in food in-take is proper, still hypo-thyroidism, is observed. Normally this ailment of thyroid reveals through hypo-thyroidsm, cancer of thyroid as well as swelling on the thyroid glands. When the proportion of thyroid hormones is ample and there is no goiter, a man does not need any medicine. The gland of thyroid may develop thyroid nod­ules. Here both inside as well as outside the gland there seems to be swelling or a tumor. A proportion of 5 to 7% of the people exhibit this disease. Ladies suffer from this disease to a greater extent. In this ailment a patient is prone

To cancer of thyroid. In 90% of the patients this tumor is found to be benign. Very few people suffer from cancer of Thyroid. Even then every year, of the 10,000 patients con­tacting this disease 1000 persons meet their death. The proportion of this disease is more observed in patients who either have cancer of the head and throat and who are treated with radiation or radiation might have been accidentally received.

To diagnose this disease one has to mainly carry out calcitonin (tumor marker for thyroid cancer) sonography and take a cytology (FNAC) examination. The examination of thyro-globulin is helpful in diagnosing cancer of thyroid. To diagnose the disease connected with thyroid gland one has to test for T3, T4, TSR, free T4, thyroid anti-body, TRH examination, thyro-globin and calcitonin. Of the above T3 T4, TSR is main examination, however examination of anti­bodies of TRH is required in specific cases. It is compulsory to take medical advice immediately on knowing about defective thyroid. To treat the ailment of hypo-thyroidism a medicine called thyroxine is commonly used. These diseases can be cured completely Timely treatment is necessary. By this type of awareness and treatment a patient can regain his normal health and feel no further difficulties.

When the children are very young there is no use of Yoga­vidya to them. However, if the patient has passed the age of 12 years he can maintain his work­ing capacity by performance of Sarvangasana, Matsyasana, Ralasana, Sinhasana, practise of Shirsasana where feasible. Be­sides, one should practice Shavasana and Pranayama, in­clusive of Omkar and Bhramari in order to maintain working capacity very well. If a patient is recuperating from loss of  working capacity then one can awaken the special capacity of thyroid. The practice of Ujjai Pranayama is found very useful in such cases.

 Sinhasana (Fig—62)

For performance of Ujjai Pranayama, inhale through both the nostrils and exhale through both the nostrils or the left nostril. The breath should be taken in and released in such a way that there is a very slight touch felt on the glottis situated in the throat. Initially control the breathing in and out in the proportion of 1:2. Slowly form a habit of Kumbhaka. Most important point to observe is that we should entertain a feeling that ‘Every moment I am getting improvement’. The trio of doctor’s treatment, exercise or Yoga-abhyasa and mental composure, will give you a boon of perfect, happy and composed health. 



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