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. 

Table of Contents

  1. How Can Yoga Help in Preventing Diabetes?
  2. Which Yoga Asanas are Useful for Managing Diabetes?
  3. How Does Yoga Activate the Pancreas to Produce More Insulin?
  4. What Precautions Should Be Taken by a Diabetic Person While Performing Yoga?

Take Away

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. 


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. 

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

1Bhastrika Pranayama3–5 min per day
2Surya Namaskar3–7 turns
3Kapalbhati5–10 min per day
4Anulom Vilom (breathing exercise)5–10 min per day
5Bhramari (breathing exercise)5 times a day
6Tadasana (mountain pose)¼ min to 1 min
7Trikonasana (triangle pose)¼ min to 1 min
8Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)¼ min to 1 min
9Bhujangasana (cobra pose)3–7 turns
10Shavasana (corpse pose)3–7 turns of each
11Vajrasana (thunderbolt pose)¼ min to 1 min
12Pawanmuktasana (wind relieving pose)¼ min to 1 min
13Padmasana (lotus position)5–15 min per day
14Sarvangasana (supported shoulder stand pose)Few seconds
15Matsyasana (fish pose)Few seconds
16Sukhasana (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. 

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.

connect-on-linkedin-with-Dr-Hemi-Soneja make-a-call-with-Dr-Hemi-Soneja Best-Diabetes-Specialist-Doctor-in-Delhi

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top