Yoga for Diabetes
Yoga can help improve the overall quality of life of people living with diabetes.

Various yoga poses help to improve the sensitivity of glucose-attached beta cells in your body. Yoga relaxes the muscles, boosts insulin secretion, and improves blood supply to the muscles. As a result, blood sugar levels improve.

Some yoga poses (asanas) that can help people with diabetes include:

  • Surya namaskar
  • Supta matsyendrasana
  • Halasana
  • Dhanurasana
  • Paschimottanasana
  • Viparita karani
  • Bhujangasana
  • Ardha matsyendrasana
  • Shavasana

Diabetes is a multifactorial disorder caused by insulin resistance with relative or absolute insulin deficiency, resulting in chronic hyperglycemia and various cardiovascular complications.

Yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and acts as a means of balancing and harmonizing the body, mind, and emotions. It helps keep a person healthy both mentally and physically.

Experts believe that besides diet, lifestyle modifications, exercise, and regular medications, yoga can also help combat various lifestyle diseases, including diabetes.

What are the other potential health benefits of yoga?

Research suggests that yoga can help improve the overall quality of life and may help you: 

  • Be stronger.
  • Improve balance and lessen the risks of a fall.
  • Become more flexible.
  • Build muscle mass.
  • Lower stress.
  • Be mindful.
  • Improve nerve function.
  • Improve emotional well-being.
  • Boost strength.
  • Promote heart health.
  • Lower blood pressure levels.

How to get started

  • You can begin yoga at home by watching videos or free online tutorials.
  • Check into a beginner’s class with a qualified yoga professional if you are new to yoga.
  • Although most asanas of yoga are safe, always talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

9 yoga asanas to help people with diabetes

  1. Surya namaskar (sun salutations)
    • A pose that is extremely beneficial for people with diabetes.
    • Includes stretching the entire body and increasing the heart rate.
    • Method:
      • Stand straight, keep the abdomen pulled in, and join your palms together. 
      • Inhale while raising the hands and stretch them to the back.
      • Exhale and go forward, lengthen your spine, slowly go down and relax your neck.
      • While inhaling, take the right leg back with your right knee on the floor. 
      • Ensure that the left knee is at the 90° angle and the palms are flat on the floor.
      • Hold your breath and take the left leg back while coming to a plank position. 
      • Exhale and bring the knees, chest, chin, and hips down. 
      • Slowly raise your upper body while inhaling. 
      • Exhale when you lift and get your body into the inverted V pose.
      • Get your right leg forward while inhaling and the left leg in front of the body and exhale.
      • Touch your toes by bending down.
      • Raise your hands, stretch the back, exhale, and join your palms together.
      • Repeat with the left side.
  2. Supta matsyendrasana (folded leg lumbar stretch)
    • Also known as lying-down body twists, this asana primarily focuses on massaging the internal organs and improving digestion.
    • Method:
      • Lay down flat on the back, and extend the arms sideways with palms facing down.
      • Bring the left knee up at the level of your chest and bend it over the right side. 
      • Stay in this position for at least 30 seconds and repeat with the opposite side.
  3. Halasana (plough pose)
    • Improves the functions of the liver, spleen, and pancreas.
    • Activates the immune system and strengthens the abdominal muscles.
    • Method:
      • Lie supine with the arms at the sides and palms facing down.
      • Inhale using abdominal muscles and lift the feet off the floor, slowly raising your legs at a 90° angle.
      • Keep breathing normally and exhale, supporting your hips and back with your hands, lifting them over the head, and touching your toes to the ground.
      • Make sure your back is perpendicular to the floor. 
      • Hold this pose few seconds only and let the body relax more and more with each steady breath.
      • Gently bring the legs down.
      • Relax and take normal breaths.
  4. Dhanurasana (bow pose)
    • This pose strengthens abdominal muscles, reduces constipation, and helps regulate the functioning of the liver, pancreas, and intestines, which in turn, helps balance the blood sugar level.
    • Method:
      • Lie prone (on the stomach) with feet together and arms by the side of the body.
      • Fold your knees while holding the ankles.
      • Breathing in, lift the chest and pull up your legs and back.
      • Look straight ahead.
      • Relax facial muscles.
      • Keep the pose stable and continue to take long, slow, deep rhythmic breaths, and try to relax in this posture.
      • After 10 seconds, exhale and gently lower your legs, back, and chest to the ground.
      • Release the ankles and relax.
      • Take a few normal breaths.
  5. Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
    • An excellent option to control diabetes, reduce blood pressure, and balance insulin levels in the blood.
    • In addition, this yoga technique helps in weight loss and relieves stress, fatigue, headache, and anxiety
    • Method:
      • Sit on the yoga mat and stretch both your legs.
      • Inhale, raise both hands above the head and stretch up.
      • Bend forward while exhaling and hold the toes with respective hands.
      • Touch your forehead to the knee joint in the bent position.
      • Close your eyes and breathe (two to three times).
      • Inhale while raising your head and release your hands.
      • Exhale and lower the arms.
  6. Viparita karani (legs up the wall)
    • This pose may make a significant impact on diabetes by stimulating the pancreas, reducing stress, and controlling blood pressure.
    • Method:
      • Lie down beside a wall. 
      • Use a folded towel under the head for support.
      • Keep the legs up the wall while making a 90° angle of the wall.
      • Stretch your arms while keeping them beside the body.
      • Stay in this pose for at least 5 to 10 minutes or more. 
      • Slide your legs slowly toward the ground.
  7. Bhujangasana (upward-facing dog pose)
    • This yoga pose enhances muscle strength, lowers blood pressure and blood sugar levels, improves posture, and is even beneficial for asthma patients. 
    • Method:
      • Lie on your stomach by keeping your legs straight.
      • Bring your arms to the floor adjacent to the last rib.
      • Press your arms to lift the body.
      • Create pressure on the feet and firm your hip muscles.
      • Look straight or slightly upward.
      • Breathe normally and hold for at least 15 seconds before relaxing.
  8. Ardha matsyendrasana (spine twist pose)
    • This asana focuses on gently massaging the pancreas, kidneys, small intestines, and liver, stimulating digestion, squeezing out toxins, and releasing hormonal secretion of the pancreas.
    • Method:
      • Sit on the floor and stretch both legs straight.
      • Fold the right leg. 
      • Keep the right leg’s heel crossed and touch the left leg’s knee.
      • Bring the left hand close to the right knee and hold the right leg’s ankle with the left hand.
      • Take the right hand to the back after twisting your trunk.
      • Gently twist the head and shoulder to the right side and look behind.
      • After a few seconds, release the posture. 
      • Relax and take normal breaths.
  9. Shavasana (corpse pose)
    • The final step in yoga for diabetes and is a traditional way to finish any yoga session.
    • This pose lowers blood sugar, balances blood pressure, and calms the body and mind.
    • Method:
      • Lie flat on your back with the arms at the sides and upward-facing palms.
      • Relax your body by inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

SLIDESHOW

Diabetes: What Raises and Lowers Your Blood Sugar Level? See Slideshow

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Medically Reviewed on 11/23/2022
References
Image Source: Getty image

Yoga Therapeutic for Diabetes The Yoga Institute https://theyogainstitute.org/yoga-therapeutic-for-diabetes/

Yoga for Diabetes WebMD https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/yoga-diabetes-poses

Yoga for Diabetes Control The Art of Living https://www.artofliving.org/in-en/health-and-wellness/yoga-diabetes

Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes NIH https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6145966/