The human body is a unique creation of nature. Every aspect of it is crafted to perfection. The shape, size, and function of each part are specific and well designed. Due to the presence of the outer layer called skin, we cannot see them into our bodies. Sages and yogis have always said “Respect your body. It’s the only one you get.”
Our body is a curious entity. It is the secretary system that keeps the body fit. If anyone of the glands- pineal, pituitary, hypothalamus, thyroid, adrenal, ovary or testes start to malfunction, the entire body system will collapse. The glands perform vital functions, therefore, your yoga practices should include asanas which strengthen and improve the function of the three glands in the brain, two in the throat, many small ones in the intestine, adrenal, ovaries and testes. If even one gland does not function properly, not only will the body will dysfunction causing illness, but the mind too will suffer disturbances. Lets see how Fitness is related to yoga and yogic science.
Human Body Basics-Why fitness is a matter of concern?
Our body mechanism-after eating the food travels down the food pipe and then into the stomach. There the food is churned and propelled to move into the small intestine. There the nutrients from food are absorbed and the waste matter finally is pushed into the large intestine, which finally is thrown out of the body. When no one is really interested to know what the actual mechanism of the body, everything is centered at the tongue alone.
It’s the tongue that tastes the food, yet the food doesn’t stay in the mouth for long. We keep on eating the food of our choice since we are not able to satiate the taste buds. The result we end up eating more and more. In doing so we forget the fact that the stomach doesn’t relish the taste. On the contrary, the stomach gets upset, it being elastic in nature expands. Then eventually leads to a digestive disorder, weight issues, and other associated illness. All creation due to greed only.
What do you require to do?
First, one must understand the body and its physical structure. Then one should lay a firm foundation on the basis of the aspects that will help you live a healthy and meaningful life. Obviously, it includes requisite discipline, appropriate diet, exercise, necessary rest and relaxation. This will help you live a balanced, healthy and meticulous life.
One can follow different exercise techniques to attain fitness. Running, workout in the gym, swimming, walking. All these are part of the fitness routine which leads to a healthy body and wellness of mind.
Here will try to explain the effects of yoga on the body to do justice for the site.
The relation between the fitness of body and yoga asanas
A yoga practitioner has well-developed glands. Since these glands function at the optimum level thus the person has a higher level of fitness. The person is experiencing a blissful state as “health is wealth”. It is the secretory system (Endocrine system) that keeps the body fit. If anyone gland discussed below starts to malfunction, the entire body system will collapse.
Glands situated in the brain
- Pineal gland: This is a small endocrine gland about the size of a pea, and is in the center of the brain. It is located behind and above the pituitary gland, which is little behind the root of the nose. In yogic science, it is known as the Agya chakra- the third eye. It produces melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of the sleep-wake cycle as well as photo-periodic functions.
The function of this mysterious gland has long been contemplated by philosophers and spiritual persons. Ancient Greeks believed that this gland has a connection to the thought process. Descartes called it the seat of the soul. This gland is photosensitive, and it controls the various biorhythms of the body. It works in harmony with the hypothalamus, which controls the body’s thirst, hunger, sexual desires, and the biological clock that determines our aging process.
When the pineal gland awakens, one may feel a pressure at the base of the brain. A special technique called “Bhuchari” activates the pineal gland. In pranayama “Nadi Shodhana” has a direct effect on the pineal gland.
2. Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus is a small region (chip-size) of the brain. It’s located at the base of the brain, near the pituitary gland. The pituitary and the pineal glands communicate with each other in signals which are further decoded by the hypothalamus. According to this decoded information, the hypothalamus influences various endocrine glands to secrete hormones. Hormones are the chemical messenger which plays an important role in various bodily functions, for example, growth, development, metabolism, etc.
3. Pituitary gland: The pituitary gland (master gland of endocrine system)is a small gland that sits in the sella turcica (‘Turkish saddle’), a bony hollow in the base of the skull, underneath the brain and behind the bridge of the nose. The pituitary gland has two main parts, the anterior pituitary gland, and the posterior pituitary gland.
This master gland controls the thyroid gland, adrenal gland, ovaries, and testicles. While it may be in charge of these glands, it gets it orders from its neighbor, the hypothalamus.
Relation with Asanas and Fitness:
Some asanas have a direct influence on these glands and thus regular practice is necessary to correct their dysfunctions.
- Sarvangasana: It is one of the inverted poses of yoga and is extremely beneficial. These inverted asanas work by reversing the effects of gravity on certain parts of the body. In this particular asana, most parts of the body are targeted. It helps promote good circulation, as it directs the blood flow of the entire lower body towards the heart. This asana also helps prevent and reduce varicose veins by reducing the pressure on the legs and directing the blood clogged in the veins upwards to the heart. Inverted Yogasanas also direct oxygen to the upper lung, ensuring healthier lungs. During this asana, the heart gets relief as the blood is direct flows to the brain.
- Shirshasana: The longer you can hold this posture, the greater are its benefits. A fact true for every asana especially when you aware fully co-ordinate the postures with the breath. This results in greater availability of pranic energy to all the important glands.
Glands situated in the Neck region and function in Fitness
Thyroid Gland: It looks like a butterfly, having wings on the left and right side, located in the throat region of the neck. Over a period of time due to a lack of adequate circulation of oxygenated blood, the function of this gland starts to deteriorate. It controls the metabolism of the body. Metabolism is the composite of the catabolism-process of breaking larger molecules into the smaller ones releasing energy, and anabolism- the process of synthesis creating complex molecules from simpler ones.
Thyroid dysfunction leads to an imbalance of T3, T4, TSH levels. If the thyroid gland overworks, it leads to a condition called hyperthyroidism. In this condition the body becomes emaciated and the skin becomes dry. There is excessive hunger, but no amount of food seems to nourish the patient. it also leads to an increase in allergies, physical weakness, loss of hair and the immune system become suppressed.
When there is suppression of the thyroid function, then it leads to a disease called hypothyroidism. In this case, swelling and bloating of the body occur. The patient experiences a lack of energy leading to lethargy, digestion is disrupted along with the sleep pattern.
Parathyroid gland: Just below the thyroid gland is the parathyroid gland.
Note- Lack of proper sleep causes dysfunction of the pineal, pituitary, and hypothalamus because they work at their optimum when we are asleep. All the hormones necessary for a healthy body are secreted in the night, so sleeping on time is important for good health.
Asanas for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and Fitness:
- Sarvangasana: In this asana, the chin touches the chest and exerts pressure on the neck where the thyroid gland is located. This gland gets oxygenated blood that nourishes the thyroid and gradually it begins to function normally. The secretion of T3, T4, and TSH hormones also gets normal.
- Matsyasana: the fish pose
- Halasana: the plough pose
If a thyroid patient practices Halasana and Suptamatsyasana for a prolonged period of time, his parathyroid dysfunction will get rectified.
Glands in the Middle part of the body:
Adrenal glands: Located just above the kidneys and secrete adrenaline. Adrenaline controls the “fight or flight” reaction of the body. When faced with danger, in a fraction of a second the hypothalamus instructs the entire body to protect itself by issuing the “fight or flight” instruction. Adrenalinesecreted by the adrenal directs you to take the appropriate actions- this is the control that nature has given you.
Adrenaline secretion also happen when you get angry. In this case, the secretion happens but the body cannot escape the damage caused by the unnecessary rush of adrenaline. So, it is important that the adrenal function remains normal. For this you will have to keep a cool head a do these asanas :
With these asanas, compression of the abdomen occurs thus normalizing the functioning of the adrenal gland.
Glands in the Lower abdomen of the body:
Ovarian Glands in Women: There are two ovaries on either side of the uterus in females. These ovaries secrets female hormones. If there is a malfunction of the ovaries, post menopause or pre-menopause, women’s entire body system gets disturbed. This leads to weight gain, irritability, disrupted sleep and other ailments. The 2 important hormones produced by ovary are progesterone and estrogen. In women, the menstrual cycle is usually up to 50 yrs of age sometimes goes on until 55 yrs. After this age women develop secondary characteristics of the male in both body and temperament. There is coarseness of skin, facial hair, and aggression.
Testes in Male: they produce testosterone. Testosterone is the hormone that makes a man a man. Age-related changes also occur in males also. With age, men mellow down and there seems to be a role reversal with their wives.
All the glands in the body perform vital functions, therefore, your yoga practice should include the asanas which strengthen and improve the function of the three glands in the brain, two in the throat, one in the intestine and two in the lower abdomen of the body. If even one gland doesn’t function properly, nor will the body be unhealthy, but the mind too will suffer ill health. Fitness with Yogasanas is an ancient method.
Special Note on Spiritual point of view and glandular position in the body:
All the three main glands of the body are in the head. The seat of awareness is also in the brain, which is the chief of all organs present in the body. That is why there is the tradition of prostrating at the feet of the guru. It is a mark of surrender to the master. It is also said that when head is placed close to the master’s feet, the disciple automatically receives an abundance of vibrations from the master, which will help him to evolve spiritually.