become a yoga teacherBy Jenny Park

Why should teachers have to learn anything about anatomy? Why should yoga instructors care about the endocrine system? Believe it, or not, some interns in yoga teacher training don’t understand the importance of learning the basics of body mechanics.  Some teacher trainings don’t address the significance of the endocrine system at all. Therefore, let’s cover some of these basics together. 

What is the Endocrine System?

The endocrine system consists of several glands that secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream. These hormones are essentially “messengers” that help regulate such functions of the body as growth and development, sexual function, mood, metabolism and tissue function. The adrenal, hypothalamus, pituitary, pineal, thyroid, pancreas and reproductive glands are all part of the endocrine system. When the endocrine glands are not working properly, there are hormonal imbalances that can affect physical and psychological well-being.

What are “Chakras” in Hatha Yoga?

Chakras are concentrated energy centers within the body. The seven main chakras are aligned along the spinal column, starting just above the crown of the head and ending at the coccyx. In descending order, these seven chakras are: sahasrara (crown), ajna (brow), vishuddha (throat), anahata (heart), manipura (solar plexus), swadisthana (sacrum) and muladhara (coccyx). The Hatha yoga perspective says the chakras must be balanced and functioning properly to maintain optimal physical and mental health.

What is the Connection between Chakras and the Endocrine System?

The chakras are connected to and influence every organ and system in the body. The chakras and endocrine glands align in the following way:

• Sahasrara and pineal

• Ajna and pituitary

• Vishuddha and thyroid

• Anahata and thymus

• Manipura and pancreas

• Swadisthana and reproductive glands

• Muladhara and adrenals

How does Hatha Yoga Affect the Endocrine System?

Hatha yoga uses physical purification techniques to build health. Included in the practice of hatha yoga training are postures (asanas), breath work (pranayama) and meditation techniques that develop healthy chakras, and, consequently, sound endocrine glands. Examples of specific hatha yoga practices that influence the chakras and endocrine glands are listed below.

• Headstand stimulates sahasrara chakra and the pineal gland by moving the flow of blood to those areas and stabilizing hormonal fluctuations.

• Meditation techniques stimulate ajna chakra and the pituitary gland.

• Bridge pose, camel pose and plow pose invigorate vishuddha chakra and the thyroid.

• Chest openers, such as lying over a rolled blanket, and shoulder openers, such as cow face pose, energize anahata cakra and the thymus.

• Core strengthening poses, such as boat, and invigorating pranayama practices, such bellows breath, affect manipura cakra and the pancreas.

• Hip openers, such as cow face pose and cobbler’s pose, influence svadisthana chakra and the reproductive glands.

• Grounding poses and hamstring stretches, such as standing forward bend, enliven muladhara chakra and the adrenal glands.

• Camel pose moves blood into the adrenal glands and manipura chakra.

 Teacher Tips

One 200-hour yoga teacher certification is a good start, but all of us need to learn everything we can for the safety of our students and to be the best we can be at teaching classes. 

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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