Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common chronic conditions that severely impacts the quality of life, affecting an estimated 463 million people worldwide. India has the second-largest diabetic population with more than 73 million diabetic patients. The burden of diabetes is huge because of its impact on both health and finances due to lifelong dependence on expensive medications and the risk of side effects and health complications. This makes it imperative for us to find holistic solutions that address the root of the problem, while also providing an inexpensive avenue of treatment. In this scenario, Ayurveda and yoga have emerged as viable alternatives and complementary therapies for diabetes.
The use of yoga to control diabetes is particularly noteworthy and there is a growing body of evidence to support its efficacy as a natural diabetes treatment. This of course raises several questions – can diabetes be cured by yoga and which are the best yoga asanas to control diabetes? We’ll take a closer look.
Yoga has been found to be beneficial for diabetes for a variety of reasons, including direct benefits and indirect ones, lowering the risk of diabetes complications. Like most mind-body therapies, yoga is best known for its positive impact on stress. The regular practice of yoga has been shown to promote relaxation and lower levels of cortisol, which can otherwise impair blood glucose control. In fact, stress reduction is one of the main lifestyle interventions for diabetes management, along with diet and exercise therapy.
Yoga is also obviously effective as a form of gentle exercise, and depending on the style of yoga it can provide you with a mild to high-intensity workout. In addition, yoga includes controlled breathing exercises and meditative practices that offer wide-ranging benefits.
Some other benefits of yoga for diabetes that have been demonstrated in studies include:
Pancreatic cell rejuvenation – Yoga asanas to control diabetes also help as they have a stimulating effect on insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
Improved glucose uptake – If you ever wondered, ‘how to control diabetes with exercise?’, this is the answer. Like any exercise, yoga stimulates glucose uptake by muscle cells, helping lower blood sugar levels and improving circulation.
Better weight management – Like any form of exercise, yoga also promotes weight loss, which has been shown to significantly protect against conditions like type 2 diabetes as well as complications like heart disease.
Increased mindfulness – In addition to promoting relaxation and lowering stress levels, regular practice of yoga helps to strengthen mental focus and increases mindfulness, making it easier for patients to comply with diabetic lifestyle recommendations.
If you wish to use yoga exercise to control diabetes, here are some of the best asanas for diabetes management.
This is a restorative inversion that can help to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels, while also improving circulation. This asana also works on various muscle groups, including the hamstrings, lower back, pelvic muscles, and back of the neck.
The Seated Forward Bend or Intense Dorsal Stretch is a therapeutic forward bend that helps lower blood pressure and promotes weight loss. Most importantly the abdominal compression of such forward bends has a stimulating effect on the pancreas, improving glucose metabolism.
This is another excellent yoga asana for diabetes as the stimulating backbend helps build muscular strength, which makes it effective for weight loss and improved circulation, while it stimulates the abdominal organs.
This is one of the simpler spinal twist poses and like other twisting poses it has a stimulating effect on the abdominal organs, supporting healthy digestion and metabolism for more effective control of blood sugar levels.
Balasana is one of the most popular yoga asanas in any kind of yoga routine because of its relaxing effects. While this alone makes it great for any yoga routine for diabetes, this can also help stimulate the production of insulin-producing beta cells.
While these are just a few of the best yoga asanas to control diabetes, other asanas like Surya Namaskar, Balasana, Halasana, and Vajrasana are also regarded as useful in any yoga session for diabetes. Many beginners also wonder about ‘which yoga is best for diabetes’, but this is a personal choice, depending on your levels of comfort and fitness. Work with a qualified yoga instructor to find a yoga style and routine that works best for you.
This article is reviewed by Suchitra Marwah