Type 2 diabetes is a widespread issue. Triggered by insulin resistance or insulin deficiency, this metabolic condition causes heart disease and chronic hyperglycemia.
According to the International Diabetes Federation, over 400 million people were struggling with the condition in 2017. But, by 2045, that number is expected to reach a staggering 629 million.
Sedentary habits paired with unhealthy eating are major risk factors. But, the psychological stress only makes things worse. Experts believe yoga can help.
Specific poses could even reduce blood sugar levels, blood pressure and boost circulation.
The question is, what does yoga have to offer? Is it really that effective? Especially for those living with type 2 diabetes. Here, we will answer all the questions for you. Let’s get right to it.
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Benefits of Yoga for Diabetes Management
Yoga is based on the principle that the body and mind are connected. When they work in sync, so does the rest of the system. But, when there is something, like an illness, getting in the way, that’s when that balance is compromised. Although yoga only recently became mainstream, it has been around for thousands of years.
Studies suggest that yoga could significantly impact different factors in type 2 diabetes management and prevention. It can be useful for stabilizing insulin resistance, glycemic control, lipid profiles, high blood pressure, and body composition.
As a result, yoga for diabetes can profoundly affect pulmonary performance, sleep, mood, and central nervous function. Here is how each of the benefits affects a diabetic human body.
Better Blood Glucose Control
Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic illnesses characterized by unstable glucose and insulin deficiency or resistance. Although people with diabetes mellitus can live a normal life, some of its complications can reduce their life expectancy and affect their overall health.
Like any other physical activity, yoga intervention promotes glucose uptake, keeping the sugar level under control. Based on 2015 research, any yoga sequence can decrease the glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Another short-term study displayed similar results. Yoga was found to be moderately efficient in decreasing numerous risk factors of prediabetes. It can have a beneficial impact on blood glucose control. With regular sessions and ample efforts, people can maximize yoga’s therapeutic properties, including blood glucose management.
It has also been found that yoga can regenerate the beta cells of the pancreas. Since it can stretch the pancreas, it can stimulate insulin production. So, when you pair that with stable glucose levels, a single yoga sequence can go a long way.
Basically, taking a yoga class is a low-cost approach in managing the illness alongside proper nutrition and medication. By no means can yoga replace diabetes medicine. But, it can provide the system with proper glucose control and insulin management.
Diabetes is a chronic illness. It has a negative impact on the quality of life. Psychological stress puts a lot of pressure on the mood. But, it also has bidirectional effects in diabetes management. Stress makes you vulnerable to severe diabetes complications, which could lead to an increase in cortisol levels and neuropathy.
While chronic psychological stress can cause hypertension, insulin sensitivity, and a bigger risk of cardiovascular events, yoga efficiently decreases stress. Therefore, aiding with diabetes control. It can calm the anxiety, depression, and stress in all aspects of life.
According to a 2013 study, yoga for diabetes helped establish a chemical balance in the brain and lessen the stress level. This improves patients’ mental attitudes and aids them in achieving a proper mental approach when dealing with their diabetes.
Pancreatic Cell Regeneration
Abdominal yoga stretching can cause better regeneration of pancreatic cells, stated the National Institutes of Health. When doing different poses, people can improve their insulin secretion, boost blood supply to the muscles, and provide solid muscle relaxation.
Focusing on your breathing while doing yoga can balance the interaction between the pancreas and the pituitary gland. By mastering pranayama, which is proper breathing or breath regulation, people can obtain numerous therapeutic effects. As well as mindfulness.
Breathing calms the mind, whereas stretching and exercise engage the body. Both this breathing technique and asana activate the pancreas.
Reduction of Oxidative Stress
Yoga asana improves strength, flexibility, muscle activity, and balance. But it could also prove effective for managing oxidative stress. Individuals with diabetes who’ve tried yoga to manage their illness have noticed an improvement in leptin and adiponectin levels.
In other words, yoga elevates insulin receptors and promotes receptor-binding proportion in a diabetic patient. When it stabilizes the insulin level, it can also normalize the insulin-to-glucose ratio and decrease the number of fatty acids in the system.
Individuals who are vulnerable to a metabolic illness can use Yoga to prevent it. According to research, yoga improves the symptom scores in 70-year old diabetes patients. It reduces their fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin, and the need to take an anti-diabetic drug.
The more they practice yoga, the easier it gets to reduce body weight, body fat, body mass, fold thickness, etc.
Better Cardiac Autonomic Function
With regular yoga practice, you can stabilize coagulation, boost nerve conduction and cognitive function. Particularly in individuals with diabetes. Since it can keep the heart rate and blood pressure under control, it could be a viable heart protection strategy.
10 Yoga Poses for Diabetes
One of the key perks of yoga is that you can practice it in the comfort of your home. The more time you dedicate to it, the better the results. If you want simple movements that will boost the quality of life, then these yoga poses for diabetes can help.
1) Corpse Pose
The simplest yet the most commonly overlooked pose is the corpse yoga pose. It can calm the mind and body and balance the blood pressure. People use it to relieve insomnia, exhaustion, and headaches.
How to do:
- Lay on a yoga mat with the back touching the floor. Stretch and spread the feet out.
- Rest the arms near the torso. The palms should be facing upwards.
- Keep the body in a straight line and relax for 10-20 min.
2) Child’s Pose
Known for promoting insulin-secretion and encouraging relaxation, this pose is the go-to choice for stress, neck, and back pain relief.
How to do:
- Sit on your yoga mat with legs tucked under the buttocks and knees hip-width apart.
- Place and extend the hands in front of you, with the palms touching the mat.
- Sink the back towards the floor by bringing the buttocks towards the heels at the same time.
- As you lean forward, the forehead should rest on the floor or as close as possible.
- Maintain this position for 5 min.
3) Supine Spinal Twist
This pose is particularly popular for stimulating the abdominal organs. It can help with reducing the blood sugar level and the stiffness in the hips, back, and spine. In some cases, it can help with mild muscle pain.
How to do:
- Lay on your back and bring the knees towards the chest.
- Position the arms to the sides and extend them. This will give you plenty of support when stretching.
- Bring the knees over to the right side at a hip level. Keep them together at all times.
- Maintain this posture for 30 sec and switch sides.
4) Half Lord of the Fishes
This is another stretch great for the abdominal muscle. Yoga therapy is believed to be a suitable option for stimulating digestion and supplying the system with plenty of energy.
How to do:
- Take a seat on your yoga mat and bring your legs in a cross-legged position. You can do that by scooting the right foot on the outside of the left hip and crossing the left leg over the right one. Basically, the left foot should be sitting outside of the right thigh.
- Focus the pressure into the sit bones with a straight spine.
- Gently twist the body to the left.
- Place the left hand on the ground behind you.
- Position the right upper arm on the outer side of the left thigh.
- With every exhale, twist as deep as you can get without overexerting the body.
- Maintain this pose for 1 min and switch sides.
5) Bow Pose
If you want a good stretch for respiratory problems and constipation, this one can help. It is used for preventing blood pressure complications and opening up the chest.
How to do:
- Lie flat down on the stomach.
- Place the hands close to the body with the palms facing upwards.
- Bend both knees and bring the hands towards the outer side of the ankles.
- Lift the knees, chest, and head up.
- Take a deep breath and maintain this position for 30 sec.
- Exhale and release.
- Use your hand as a pillow before you bring the head down. Relax the back and shake the hips.
- Repeat the same position 1 to 2 times.
6) Upward-Facing Dog
Probably not the easiest pose after a long exercise, but absolutely worth it. It is a great option to stretch the back. However, it does need some muscle strength. So, it makes for a solid choice when looking to improve blood circulation in patients with diabetes.
How to do:
- Lie down with the stomach facing the floor.
- Place the arms to the side with the palms flat on the mat.
- Keep the legs extended flat as you press into the palms, strengthen the arms, and lift the body off the floor.
- Maintain a slight elbow bend as you engage the abdominal, arm, and thigh muscles.
- Keep the shoulder blades and buttocks firm.
- Maintain this yoga posture for 30 sec.
7) Yoga Plow
Best meant for experienced yoga practitioners, this pose can decrease stress, stimulate circulation and the thyroid gland. Due to its numerous beneficial properties, it might help with headaches, back pain, and insomnia. These are known factors that affect diabetes control.
How to do:
- Lie down on your back.
- Place both your arms on the lower back and push your buttocks upwards.
- Bring both your feet above the head and towards the floor.
- Maintain this position for 1 to 5 min.
- Roll the spine in its starting position by backing down slowly and raising the legs upward.
8) Supported Shoulderstand
Quite similar to the yoga plow, this is another option to ease the stress and boost circulation. These are all key factors when managing diabetes. But, this one puts some additional pressure on the rectus abdominis.
How to do:
- Take a comfortable position flat on the mat.
- Use a folded blanket and place it under the shoulders.
- Position both your arms on the lower back and push the buttocks upwards.
- Keep the legs straight as you lift the lower and part of the upper body into the air.
- Carefully bend the legs lower or as close as you can get them to the head.
- Keep using the hands to adjust your back support.
- Return the legs in a straight line.
- Keep doing the stretch from 30sec to 3 min.
- Gently return your body to the starting position and lower the legs to the mat.
9) Seated Forward Bend
A typical stretch for any yoga practice is this forward bend. The reason people use it for diabetes is that it could promote weight loss, healthy blood pressure, and better glucose levels.
How to do:
- Take a seat on the yoga mat.
- Extend the legs forward.
- With a straight spine, bring the upper body forward and chest as close to the legs as possible. Place the hands on your feet for extra support.
- Tuck the chin between the legs when you achieve the desired position.
- Maintain this pose for 3 min.
10) Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Yoga is known for calming the central nervous system. This particular pose can do exactly that, which makes it a great option for diabetes control. Furthermore, it is believed to stimulate the kidneys and bladder.
How to do:
- Sit down on the yoga mat.
- Bring the soles of the feet together, with the knees facing outwards.
- Carefully lean backward without letting your upper body fall too quickly until your back is flat on the ground.
- As you recline towards the mat, relax the hips and let the palms rest on each side.
- Maintain this pose for 10 min.
- Slowly get back in the starting position.
People with diabetes should take extra precautions when doing any exercise. That includes yoga as well. If you have any doubts, it is best to consult with a yoga teacher or anyone who has done yoga teacher training courses. Overall, yoga is safe and easy to do.
But, as a beginner, you might be inspired to do more than your body can handle. So, instead of reaping the benefits, you may hurt the system. Here is a list of some of the most important precautions you should know about.
- Do yoga on an empty stomach. Many people find it difficult to lift their bodies after eating. That’s why before you start practicing yoga asana, the bowels and bladder should be emptied. This can help avoid any discomfort and unease you might be feeling.
- Be careful not to go overboard. Mind the postures and manners when stretching. Some asana poses are more complex than others. They can affect the internal organs and be difficult to do. So, take it slow, and stretch the body as much as you can handle.
- Don’t wear accessories when doing asana. Watches or hairgrips could get damaged or cause an injury. Make sure to remove anything that might scratch or hurt the skin when stretching.
- Focus on the breathing pattern. People with breathing difficulties should avoid holding their breath while doing pranayama. This is often practiced with Kumbhaka. If you think you can handle it, it is best to consult with a doctor first.
- Don’t do heavy exercises right after yoga. Options like swimming, weightlifting, cycling, and jogging are not a good idea immediately after yoga. Your body needs time to rest before you can begin the workout. A 20 min rest will benefit the system.
- Get supervision. When practicing asana for managing diseases, it is best to do it under personal supervision and guidance. Particularly for an overweight individual. The blood sugar fluctuations could cause a problem.
People have been practicing Yoga for thousands of years, and for a good reason. This practice harmonizes the mind, body, and emotions. Regular yoga is useful for managing various illnesses, some of which happens to be type 2 diabetes. With yoga, you get to supply the system with beneficial effects on the immune and neuroendocrine mechanisms, which are crucial for managing this metabolic condition.
Incorporating yoga in your daily life can help establish proper glycemic control and decrease the risk of diabetes-induced complications. If you don’t know what to try, the poses listed here can help. They can show you how to keep your health in check. Have you tried any of the yoga poses covered here? Did they work for you? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!