Yoga for Diabetes

We consume calorie-rich foods while relying on machines for most of our work. Sedentary work hours in front of screens decreases one’s motivation to exercise and kills any hope of self-drive. Urban life almost sets you up for an unhealthy lifestyle - if left unchecked - it will come for you.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder. Your body metabolizes food into glucose for energy, and insulin is a key hormone that helps in this mechanism. When your body is unable to secrete or utilize insulin well enough, it results in very high blood sugar levels. If left untreated, this can further cause cardiovascular disorders, kidney failure, and vision loss.

More than 1 in every 3 persons residing in the United States are prediabetic - people with high blood sugar levels, but not enough to be diagnosed with diabetes, most times they don’t even know they are.

There is NO CURE for diabetes. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) suggests that losing weight, eating healthy, and staying active can help. All of these point towards a lifestyle change - and this is where yoga offers its most comprehensive approach to the disease.

Role of yoga on the management of Type 2 Diabetes

A 2018 study suggests that an anti-stress response in the body improves overall metabolic and psychological profiles, and increases insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, and lipid metabolism. The mind-body practices in yoga offer space for greater self-awareness and cultivate an ability to better listen to what your body needs. Identifying real hunger signals as opposed to stress/emotional cravings is the first step towards healthy eating. Efficient effortless breathing practices help keep the body active and motivated.

Yoga for diabetes control can include the following practices:

  • Surya Namaskar - 3-7 rounds based on the individual's capacity
  • Dynamic yoga postures - targeting hip circumference
  • Holding Yoga poses (start with 15 seconds and build up to 60 seconds) - massages the abdomen, twists massage the pancreas, and squeeze the intestines, backward bends are energizing, regulated breathing during the practice is relaxing and inversions help with better blood circulation.
  • Cleansing practices like Kapalbhati, Agnisar Kriya, and Vaman dhauti.
  • Slow breathing practices like anuloma viloma, bhramari, single nostril breathing, bellow breath, and sheetali/shitkari - all have unique effects on the body while activating the parasympathetic system and initiating a relaxation response.
  • Mindfulness and meditative practices like yoga nidra, chanting, etc can further help to be emotionally more resilient and improve internal feedback systems.
  • Adherence to a regular practice of yoga for diabetes control is shown to be more effective. Whether it's 10 mins or 60 mins, practicing regularly and more often is always better. Being consistent and learning with a teacher that understands your body, and the changes its making are both very essential to reverse the symptoms.
  • Yoga is a roadmap to good health and not a cure for any particular disease. However, its application in the prevention and management of diseases (more specifically lifestyle related) is proving to be a clinically viable treatment.


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