Acella Pharmaceuticals, LLC, is partnering with Lexi Hawks, an E-RYT 500 Hr
Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher, to bring greater awareness to the importance of
thyroid care and education. This post was sponsored by Acella Pharmaceuticals
and should not be construed as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor about
your individual medical situation.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not
substitute professional medical advice. Consult a medical professional or healthcare
provider before beginning any exercise, fitness, diet, or nutrition routine.
For those managing hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease, inflammation is a symptom often
reported by patients. Studies have shown that a regular yoga practice may be a viable
way to reduce inflammation.1
Reducing or preventing chronic inflammation in the body can help decrease the chances of
damaging health issues. We can lower inflammation by addressing how we eat and process
stress and how often we exercise. Yoga is both a science and an art and offers insight,
guidance, and instruction in each of these areas. Today, we will explore a yoga sequence
that, when performed regularly, may reduce chronic inflammation.
Regular exercise can help prevent inflammation. Ideally, we need a combination of aerobic
exercises (30 minutes to 45 minutes, performed four to five times a week) and anaerobic
exercise (10 minutes to 25 minutes, performed four to five times a week). Luckily some
styles of yoga can address both of these needs.
Sun Salutation Sequence
One of my favorites is a series of yoga postures that are put together to make the Sun
Salutation (Surya Namaskar). The Sun Salutation is done as one pose per breath, creating
a flowing, rhythmic, moving meditation. Doing yoga poses in this way creates heat in the
body, increases the heart rate and respiration, and can provide an aerobic experience.
We sync our energy with the solar energy of the sun. Following the Sun Salutation, we
can add other yoga poses to our practice or slowly transition into one of the most
important yoga poses that aids in stress reduction: Shavasana (Corpse Pose). This
combination of yoga postures and concepts is ideal for reducing inflammation.
Surya Namaskar is presented below with the breath cue that initiates the movement and a
photo of the yoga pose. When you first learn the Sun Salutation, slow the postures down
and take a few breaths to explore each shape and the transitions from one to the next.
Once you are familiar with the shapes, try speeding things up to one breath per movement
(through the nose). You can do as many Sun Salutations as you wish … 3, 5, 7, 9,… 108 or
more! It is very important that the poses are done with proper breathing. The sequence
can feel vigorous, but as with any exercise, you want to be sure the breath is not
Join the feet and legs. Connect all four corners of the feet to the ground. Distribute
the weight evenly between the balls and heels of the feet. Press down through the feet
and lift from the ankles to the hips. Lift the sides of the body from the outer hips to
the sides of chest. Keep the spine long and the chest and upper back equally broad.
Lengthen the back of the neck, with the chin staying neutral. Focus the gaze straight
Stay in Mountain Pose and reach arms overhead, either shoulder-distance apart with palms
facing each other, or bring palms together. Set your gaze on the thumbs.
Feet together or hip distance, connect all four corners of the feet with the ground.
Palms press into floor, yoga blocks, or a chair seat if the legs feel tight. Distribute
the weight evenly between the balls and heels of the feet, root firmly into the ground
through feet and hands. Lift the muscles of the legs up from the ankles to the hips. The
bend happens at the hips (not from the waist or lower back).
From Forward Fold, lengthen the spine as the thighs engage. Pull the
chest forward as the top of the thighs stay back. Take the gaze forward while keeping
the back of the neck long. Step the feet back into a plank.
Bend Elbows and Lower Chaturanga
Palms press evenly and firmly into the ground. Bend elbows, move shoulders forward, align
the elbows directly over the palms so that the arms make a 90-degree angle. Chest stays
above or in line with elbows. The body hovers in one straight line over the ground,
shoulder, and elbow in line as well. Look forward and keep the back of the neck long.
This pose is VERY challenging. If you need to modify, then take a knee-down plank to
release to the floor.
Upward Facing Dog
Lie prone on the mat, place the palms by the low ribs with elbows bent. Press the palms
as well as the index finger and thumb firmly into the ground and slightly back,
straighten arms. Press into the tops of the feet or tuck the toes under for additional
leg support. Extend through neck and lift chin as you keep the neck long. Gaze forward
and slightly up or at your nose. (Modify with Cobra Pose, if needed)
Downward Facing Dog
Hands shoulder-width apart or wider, feet hip-width apart. Root through the balls of the
feet and the palms as the hips lift and the body becomes an inverted V shape. Make sure
the wrist crease lines up with the front of the mat. Press the palms firmly into the
ground, extend the arms fully, press the tops of thighs back.
Once the first sequence is complete, step feet forward to meet the hands, lift chest, fold, raise arms and return to mountain pose. Repeat as many times as you'd like.
Following the Sun Salutations, you can add other yoga postures into your practice or
simply enjoy several breaths in Downward Facing Dog before transitioning to a deep
relaxation in Corpse Pose.
Corpse Pose: Shavasana
This might be one of the most important yogic postures, and yet possibly the most
resisted because people erroneously think it’s “doing nothing.” This pose is not
synonymous with sleeping (though you might fall asleep in it)! I’ll even go as far as to
say that the busier your life and mind are, then the more important it is to practice
Corpse Pose. Luckily, after a number of flowing Sun Salutations, most of us are ready
for Corpse Pose!
To do Corpse Pose, lay on your back with your legs extended out long. Relax the legs
naturally from the hips to the heels. Lay the arms down next to your sides with the
palms facing up and have the head centered. Close your eyes and soften the entire body.
Allow the breath to be natural. Take rest as each part of the body relaxes and softens
toward the ground. (If the backaches when laying down, try placing a bolster under the
knees and low thighs. You might also find a blanket useful for supporting the neck and
head.) To receive the benefits of taking a purposeful relaxation, stay in this pose for
five minutes or longer.
Give this combination of yoga concepts a try to invite both vigor and relaxation. Observe
the effects of your yoga practice on your body and your mind. While exercise and stress
reduction might assist in reducing inflammation, you may also find that the body is
energized and craves healthier food, another way to reduce inflammation.
REFERENCES: 1. Djalilova DM, Schulz PS, Berger AM, Case AJ, Kupzyk KA, Ross AC.
Impact of Yoga on Inflammatory Biomarkers: A Systematic Review. Biol Res Nurs.