The Endocrine System
Endocrine system is group of certain specific organs called “Glands” that secret a special substance called “Hormones” into our blood stream which targets specific organs for regulating and maintaining the functioning of those organs. These hormones are said to be everything that a human being can be. Literally they are responsible for every state of body and mind that we experience throughout our lives. Hormones are special chemicals which when gets disposed to the set of organs or an organ in particular bring about a fundamental change in its behaviour towards the persisting condition.
The functioning of endocrines is unique as it is triggered in response to the stimulants (factors responsible for an activity to start) present internally in the body or outside in the environment. The moment any stimulation through these factors is registered by the centers of brain controlling endocrines glands, the related messages are transferred to the relevant gland for secreting the hormones to deal with the stimulant. The moment stimulation is ceased, glands are signaled again to stop the release of hormones. This is a common feedback mechanism inside the body.
The major glands of endocrine system are :
1. Pineal gland: Pineal gland is situated at the very top of our bodies i.e. in the sub-cortical regions of the brain. It is responsible for the secretion of Melatonin, a hormone which is responsible for controlling the biological clock of our body.
2. Pituitary gland: An important gland of the system situated in the sub-cortical regions under the pineal and hypothalamus. It secrets hormones responsible for overall growth of an individual and is said to control the secretions of all the other glands by a variety of hormonal secretions like Prolactin, Oxytocin and others.
3. Thyroid and Parathyroid glands: Situated around the neck region in front of the wind pipe. These comes in two sets on each side of the pipe. They are responsible for secretion Thyroxin hormones which governs the overall metabolism of the body by controlling oxygen consumption. Another set of hormones called calcitonin which helps in proper disposition of calcium into the bones, and maintaining an adequate level of calcium in the blood.
4. Pancreas: Situated in the abdominal region just above the intestinal section, pancreas secrets glucagon, insulin and other hormones controlling the over growth of the body. Insulin is a very important hormone which is responsible for controlling the level of glucose in the blood and making it available to the cells for production of energy.
5. Adrenal glands: Situated on the top of kidneys in a cap like structures adrenals are responsible for secretion of a variety of hormones like glucocorticoids, epinephrine, norepinephrine and gonadocorticoids which triggers stress response and maintenance of metabolism and glucose levels in the blood. In adverse circumstances these hormones helps to overcome the stress and react to the situation as the need be. They are related to the famous “fight or flight response” of the individual.
6. Gonads: Ovaries in females and Testis in males are termed as gonads. They produce hormones which governs the sexual characteristics of both females and males i.e. development of muslces, shape and size, axillary hair, voice pitch, growth of breasts and shape of pelvis. In females these hormones play an important role in determining menstrual cycles, holding pregnancy and development of fetus.
Endocrines system is governed by a special part of the brain called Hypothalamus. It is also called the emotional center of our body and is directly affected by the emotional states a person experiences. Based on these emotional triggers, hypothalamus influences the hormonal secretion in a positive or negative manner. Over stimulation of any gland might result in a hypo(scarce) or hyper(over) secretion of the hormones which if becomes chronic can lend manipulating results on the overall personality. For example excess secretion from the thyroid might result in a condition called hyperthyroidism which gives the symptoms of intolerance to heart, fatigue, weight loss and muscular wastage and protrusion of eyeballs outwards.
These hormones are the basis of experiences for an individual. They can alter the regimes of experiences phenomenally if gone out of equations. Thus for a perfect state of health it is utterly important that the endocrine system works on the optimum level. As we saw that emotions are responsible for the secretions of hormones, any upset or acceleration on the emotional level can have profound influence on the hormonal secretions and on the outcomes in terms of reactions to life.
Yoga practice is directly related with balancing the secretion of hormones so as to heighten the level of experiencing. Yoga provides methods through which we can counter any deficiencies in the secretions. Studies have shown that the practice of yogasanas, pranayam and meditation brings a neutral calmness on the emotional levels as these practices channelize the scattered emotional energy into a more consolidated spiritual force. Such a calmness induces the hypothalamus to operate more smoothly and in turn establish a harmony in the hormonal secretions from a firm hypothalamic activity.
“Awareness in actions inhibits blind reactions to the situations which is considered to be more of an instinctive behaviour, and allows a person to operate more consciously through the cycles of life where duality is a must to be present entity.”This awareness prevents hormones to be unnecessarily secreted into our blood and keeps a person in a more natural state of serenity and natural self control.
Therapeutically, yoga is a strong form of preventing diseases coming out of a unbalanced secretion as we can easily assess that most of the disorders that we see emerging today have their roots in uncontrolled secretion of hormones. May it be cardiac issues, blood pressure, stress, diabetes or cancers, all these fatal diseases are related with an unnatural state of endocrine secretions. We can definitely prevent anything like that to happen by looking towards yoga as a holistic approach towards life. As Patanjali wrote in his Yoga Sutras,
“Heyam Dukha Anagatam”,
i.e. it is possible to prevent the suffering which has not yet arrived.
Hence with Yoga, we can have a reason to believe that all these and many more sufferings can be thrown out of the perspective of human life and a more substantial state of health and happiness can be experienced. The only requisite is of practising. Do it and See it !!
Jeevmoksha Yoga Gurkul