Diabetes & Yoga: Powerful combination for blood sugar control

Stress is a major cause of diabetes. Also, lifestyle issues like physical inactivity, impaired sleep, depression, stress, dysfunctional habits represent major barriers to successful diabetes management. Considering these aspects, there is a need for a complementary treatment like Yoga which forms part of a holistic, cost-effective, preventive and management strategy for type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes & Yoga: Powerful combination for blood sugar control
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By: Dr. Ranjit Unnikrishnan I

CHENNAI: Type 2 diabetes is one of the major public health concerns which is characterised by high blood sugars over a long period of time. It can cause serious long-term complications like retinopathy, neuropathy, chronic kidney disease, heart attack, stroke, foot ulcers leading to amputation and cognitive impairment when it is left untreated or uncontrolled.

Stress is a major cause of diabetes. Also, lifestyle issues like physical inactivity, impaired sleep, depression, stress, dysfunctional habits represent major barriers to successful diabetes management. Considering these aspects, there is a need for a complementary treatment like Yoga which forms part of a holistic, cost-effective, preventive and management strategy for type 2 diabetes.

What are the effects of stress on diabetes?

Stress is a common trigger for high blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. When you're stressed, your body releases hormones that can raise your blood sugar. Stress also can make it harder for you to control your diabetes by causing you to eat unhealthy foods, skip meals, or overeat.

Yoga can help you relax and focus on your breath, which can lead to better blood sugar control. Yoga also helps build strength and flexibility, both of which are important for people with diabetes.

Did you know that Yoga can be an effective diabetes management tool? It's true! In this article, we'll go over what Yoga is and the benefits of practicing it.

How can yoga help with diabetes?

Yoga can help to control blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar levels. When insulin sensitivity is increased, it means that the body is better able to use insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. Yoga has the ability to alter the mental status of an individual using different postures and regulated breathing.

Yoga can be effectively advocated in India for managing lifestyle related disorders like diabetes, hypertension and related chronic conditions. Many of us think of yoga as a physical intervention incorporating body postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), meditation, modification of attitudes and behaviour along mental discipline. But research on yoga and type 2 diabetes has shown a lot of beneficial effects both in physical, psychological, social and overall well-being. Yoga helps in parasympathetic activation, overall metabolic and psychological profiles, increases insulin sensitivity and improves glucose tolerance and lipid metabolism. Yoga practices such as cleansing processes, asanas, pranayama, mudras, bandha, meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation are known to reduce blood glucose levels and to help in the management of comorbid disease conditions associated with type 2 diabetes, resulting in significant positive clinical outcomes.

What type of yoga should you do for diabetes?

There are many different types of yoga, and each can be beneficial for people with diabetes. However, some types may be more helpful than others.

One type of yoga that may be particularly helpful for people with diabetes is called Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga focuses on physical postures, and its goal is to bring balance to the body.

A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that Hatha yoga can help to improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. The study participants who practiced Hatha yoga had lower fasting blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity after eight weeks.

Other types of yoga that could be beneficial for people with diabetes include Kundalini yoga and Bikram yoga. Kundalini yoga focuses on breath work and meditation, while Bikram yoga is a more strenuous form of yoga that is performed in a hot room.

No matter what type of yoga you choose, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

Yoga poses for diabetics

There are a few poses in particular that are helpful for people with diabetes. The first is the Half Camel Pose. This pose helps to improve insulin sensitivity and can also help to lower blood sugar levels. To do the Half Camel Pose, start on your hands and knees. Then, arch your back and bring one hand to touch the back of your head. Hold this pose for a few deep breaths before returning to starting position.

Another helpful pose is the Warrior III Pose. This pose helps improve balance and coordination, both of which are important for people with diabetes. To do the Warrior III Pose, start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Then, lift one leg behind you and lean forward from your hips until your body forms a straight line from your head to your raised leg. Hold this pose for a few deep breaths before returning to the standing position and repeating on the other side.

There are many benefits to practicing yoga, including improved flexibility and diabetes control. If you have diabetes, yoga can help you manage your blood sugar levels and improve your overall health. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing diabetes, incorporating yoga into your daily routine is a great way to support your health and wellbeing.

(The author is the Vice Chairman and Consultant at Dr. Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Centre)

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