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Yoga for Diabetes: How Can Yoga Help in Preventing Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by a slow metabolism, leading to high blood sugar levels. It is vital to manage diabetes in order to prevent the risk of several diseases, including heart disease and stroke. Managing diabetes can be achieved by boosting metabolism, reducing stress, and keeping blood pressure low. It is possible to achieve diabetes management through daily yoga practice. You must be wondering how can yoga help in preventing diabetes? Well, Yoga for diabetes involves a combination of asanas, pranayama, mudras, bandha and meditation. All of these factors help in reducing blood sugar levels and managing comorbid conditions associated with diabetes. The incorporation of yoga practice helps diabetic patients achieve better blood glucose control and reduces complications. 

How Can Yoga Help in Preventing Diabetes?

Globally, there has been a steady rise in diabetes in the past few decades. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that nearly 500 million people worldwide currently live with diabetes. The number may grow by 30% by 2045. 

Types of diabetes: 

  • Diabetes type 1 (T1DM) is a condition that occurs when the body stops making insulin because of an autoimmune response. It is also called insulin-dependent diabetes.
  • Diabetes type 2 (T2DM) is prevalent in individuals with insulin resistance. It is also called non-insulin-dependent diabetes.

In both cases, sugar remains in the blood instead of being used by the body, leading to various health problems.

Impact of exercise:

Regular exercise is essential for diabetic patients regardless of their type of diabetes.  

Diabetes type 1: There is no favourable evidence on the efficacy of exercise in type 1 diabetes. However, exercise, carbohydrate intake, and insulin dosage can better control glucose levels. Exercise also reduces dyslipidemia and prevents oxidative stress-induced damage in type 1 diabetes. It is worth noting that intense exercise without adequate carbohydrate intake and insulin can be harmful to patients with type 1 diabetes. Moderate-intensity exercise is therefore beneficial for such patients, according to research findings. In addition, it is essential to note that aerobic exercise can result in hypoglycemia during and after the activity.

Yoga for diabetes type 1 patients is the best option to maintain glucose levels and lead a quality life. 

Diabetes type 2 :

Type 2 diabetics can benefit from moderate exercise. Generally, exercise lowers blood glucose levels and increases blood glucose utilization in muscles. In such patients, the risk of exercise-induced hypoglycemia is minimal if no exogenous insulin is used. Around the world, yoga for diabetes type 2 is the most recommended exercise. 

Yoga:

The practise of yoga originated in India around 5000 B.C. It combines physical, mental and spiritual practices. The practise includes: 

  • Asanas (specific postures) 
  • Pranayama (breathing practices)
  • Dhyana (meditation) and mantras (chants)
  • Sutras (wisdom teachings) to inspire health
  • Relaxation

Yoga in preventing diabetes:

How can yoga help in preventing diabetes? It is a question that many ask. It is often claimed that yoga cures diabetes, particularly for type 2 diabetes patients whose glucose levels respond to diet and exercise. 

Yoga can help prevent type 2 diabetes by:

  • Rejuvenating pancreatic cells: Diabetes yoga asanas stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin-producing beta cells. 
  • Exercising the muscles: Diabetes yoga decreases blood sugar levels, improves circulation, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease just like other types of exercise. 
  • Promoting weight loss: Yoga can assist in losing weight and improving weight management, as well as preventing diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases.
  • Improving your mental attitude: Yoga is a great way to combat diabetes by cultivating a positive outlook. 
how-can-yoga-help-in-preventing-diabetes

Which Yoga Asanas are Useful for Managing Diabetes?

‘Yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’, which means uniting the body, breath, and mind. The diabetes yoga asanas have a variety of effects, including:

  • Relaxation, strengthening and balancing of muscles
  • Mobilisation of joints
  • Improvement of posture
  • Action on pressure points
  • Improvement of breathing
  • Calming of the nervous system
  • Promotion of homoeostasis in cardiovascular, endocrine, digestive and other systems.  3

Diabetes yoga asanas for 10 min combined with standard medical care could significantly improve metabolic health in diabetic patients. Yoga is practised in many different styles, and all focus on the same physical and mental well-being of the patient. Yoga for diabetes can be categorized into various styles, some of which are more authentic than others. A few examples among the benefits of diabetes yoga asanas are: 

Diabetes yoga asanas- type and duration of asanas (type 2

Also Learn About Top 10 Yoga Poses For Diabetes

S. NO. NAME OF ASANA DURATION IMAGE 
1 Bhastrika Pranayama 3–5 min per day
2 Surya Namaskar 3–7 turns
3 Kapalbhati 5–10 min per day
4 Anulom Vilom (breathing exercise) 5–10 min per day
5 Bhramari (breathing exercise) 5 times a day
6 Tadasana (mountain pose) ¼ min to 1 min
7 Trikonasana (triangle pose) ¼ min to 1 min
8 Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) ¼ min to 1 min
9 Bhujangasana (cobra pose) 3–7 turns
10 Shavasana (corpse pose) 3–7 turns of each
11 Vajrasana (thunderbolt pose) ¼ min to 1 min
12 Pawanmuktasana (wind relieving pose) ¼ min to 1 min
13 Padmasana (lotus position) 5–15 min per day
14 Sarvangasana (supported shoulder stand pose) Few seconds
15 Matsyasana (fish pose) Few seconds
16 Sukhasana (crossed leg pleasant pose) ¼ min to 1 min

How Does Yoga Activate the Pancreas to Produce More Insulin?

Yoga appears to be beneficial for diabetes type 2-related risk profiles through a number of pathways. The following pathways help us understand how yoga can help prevent diabetes: 

  • Abdominal extensions in yoga for diabetes improve glucose absorption by stimulating the regeneration of pancreatic cells. 
  • Additionally, pancreatic β-cells produce adequate insulin by improving their glucose sensitivity. 
  • A variety of breathing exercises and yoga for diabetes can improve lung function thereby improving metabolic activities. 
  • Diabetic patients who practise yoga have more insulin receptors and more insulin receptors that bind to insulin.
  • Yoga for diabetes reduces fasting insulin levels, shifts the peak insulin level to the left, and normalises the insulin to glucose ratio.
  • In addition, yoga for diabetes reduces postprandial blood sugar, haemoglobin A1c and anti-diabetic drug requirements, suggesting improved glucose control. 
  • Further, diabetes yoga asanas help to modulate gene expression and to increase muscle activity, strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance, having a positive impact on body weight, adiposity, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance. 
  • An elevated feeling of well-being is associated with decreased activation and reactivity of the sympathetic-adrenal system.
  • Direct stimulation of the vagus nerve by diabetes yoga can enhance parasympathetic activity and have positive effects on cardiovagal function, mood, energy state and neuroendocrine, metabolic and inflammatory responses.
  • Additionally, yoga for diabetes type 2 may result in weight loss, which itself lowers the risk of associated metabolic disorders. 
  • Inflammatory responses caused by visceral adiposity (fat cells) are connected to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
  • In addition to reducing proinflammatory responses and improving immune function, yoga for diabetes therapy can also result in immunomodulation
  • Improvements in hormonal homeostasis with diabetes yoga therapy, also improve glycaemic control in people with diabetes mellitus. 

What Precautions Should Be Taken by a Diabetic Person While Performing Yoga?

Yoga may offer a wealth of health benefits for diabetics, but individuals should take the following precautions before participating. 

Diabetes yoga therapy should only be taught by qualified professionals. People with type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular disease or at risk of complications, should avoid fast-paced yoga practice and vigorous exercise in extreme temperatures, such as Bikram or hot yoga.

Precautions and contraindications for diabetic patients:

  • Yoga is generally practised on an empty stomach, but those taking treatments for diabetes may eat light snacks to prevent hypoglycemia.
  • Sarvangasana and shirshasana cause blood to rush into the head and upper body, which can lead to retinal detachment or bleeding. Therefore, these poses should be avoided by people with diabetes or practised carefully under supervision.
  • During diabetes yoga therapy, patients may experience complications like dizziness when sitting or standing abruptly. Hence, diabetic patients should practise poses slowly and pause, if necessary.
  • When performing yoga for type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, it is important to pay attention to warning signals of pain and discomfort. 
  • Yoga for type 1 diabetes should be avoided if patients have associated autonomic neuropathies. 
  • Despite early cardiac autonomic neuropathy, even low-intensity exercise like yoga for type 1 diabetes can increase heart rate variability. 

So how much yoga do we need? Yoga does not have set guidelines specifically, but one should aim for at least 150 min of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

When is the Best Time to Do Yoga or Meditation for Diabetes?

The optimal time for yoga or meditation can vary based on individual preferences and daily schedules. Some individuals find that morning sessions help set a positive tone for the day, enhancing focus and energy levels. On the other hand, evening practice can be beneficial for relaxation and unwinding. The key is consistency—choose a time that aligns with your routine and allows for regular, sustained practice. Always consult with healthcare professionals before starting new activities, ensuring they align with individual health needs.

Can Yoga and Meditation Help in Reducing Cravings for Sugary Foods?

Yes, yoga and meditation for diabetes can help reduce cravings for sugary foods by improving mindfulness and promoting better emotional regulation. Practices like mindful eating and meditation can help individuals become more aware of their hunger cues and make healthier food choices.

Take Away

Diabetes yoga can help manage diabetes-related symptoms as well as improve your overall quality of life. Yoga-based lifestyle changes may be beneficial as well.

Diabetic patients can develop a positive mental attitude towards diabetes through the regular practice of diabetes yoga. However, you should always consult your doctor before starting a new activity in case any changes need to be made to your treatment plan.

In these circumstances, a diabetologist/endocrinologist in Delhi will provide the diabetic individual with the best standard of care and recommendations.

Dr. Hemi Soneja has extensive experience in the treatment of lifestyle disorders like diabetes, obesity, and other hormonal disorders. She recommends both diet and exercise for diabetes control, as well as yoga asanas.

FAQ

1. Is yoga good for diabetes patients?

Yes, yoga offers multiple benefits for individuals dealing with diabetes. The practice combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation, promoting overall well-being. Specific yoga postures can enhance flexibility, while controlled breathing may positively impact stress levels. Additionally, some studies suggest that yoga may aid in better blood sugar management.

2. Does yoga help to balance blood sugar levels permanently?

While yoga is recognized for its positive impact on blood sugar control, achieving a permanent balance requires consistent effort. Regular yoga practice, combined with a healthy lifestyle and proper medical management, can contribute significantly to maintaining stable blood sugar levels. It’s crucial to view yoga as a complementary aspect of overall diabetes care.

3. Can meditation help with diabetes?

Meditation can play a supportive role in managing diabetes, especially concerning stress reduction. Chronic stress can impact blood sugar levels, and meditation techniques, such as mindfulness and deep breathing, may help alleviate stress. Integrating meditation into a diabetes management plan contributes to a holistic approach to well-being.

4. How to activate the pancreas to produce more insulin by yoga?

Yoga can be powerful in managing diabetes and activating the pancreas to produce more insulin. There are some specific yoga practices such as Pranayama, Dhanurasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana, and Surya Namaskar; these exercises can help you activate the pancreas to provide more insulin.

5. How often should one practice yoga to see benefits related to diabetes?

To see yoga benefits for diabetes prevention, it is recommended to practice yoga at least 3-5 times a week. Consistency is key, so regular practice over time will yield better results.

6. Can beginners start yoga for diabetes prevention, or is it only for advanced practitioners?

Beginners can definitely start yoga for diabetic control. It’s important to start with basic poses and gradually progress. Joining a yoga class or following a guided yoga routine can help beginners practice safely and effectively.

7. Can yoga replace medication for diabetes management?

Yoga for diabetes control cannot replace the medication for diabetes management. However, it can be a valuable complementary therapy. While yoga can help in controlling blood sugar levels and improving overall health, it’s important to follow the treatment plan prescribed by your healthcare provider.

8. Can children or teenagers with a family history of diabetes benefit from yoga?

Yes, children and teenagers with a family history of diabetes can benefit from yoga. Yoga can promote healthy habits, improve physical fitness, reduce stress, and enhance emotional well-being, all of which can help in preventing the onset of diabetes.

9. Can yoga help in reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications?

Yes, regular yoga practice can help reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications by improving blood circulation, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, and enhancing overall well-being. This holistic approach can contribute to better management of diabetes and prevention of complications.

10. Can restorative yoga help in managing blood sugar levels?

Restorative yoga for diabetes patients focuses on deep relaxation and gentle stretching, which can lower stress hormones and improve overall well-being. Poses like Savasana (Corpse Pose) and Balasana (Child’s Pose) help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting calmness and potentially stabilizing blood sugar levels.

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