Yoga For Diabetes - Receive The Benefits for Type 2
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Diabetes and Exercise

Yoga for Diabetes – Easy And Gentle Helpful Poses for Diabetics

Nov 25, 2016

Do You Have to Turn Into a Pretzel to Undo the Damage of Eating Pretzels?

Short answer, no. Yes, there are those who do yoga for diabetes and do a lot of advanced sequences and poses, but the yoga that can help you with type-2 diabetes is usually simple enough for anyone to learn and do. Having a qualified teacher always helps, especially if you’re just beginning your journey into this ancient science of holistic well-being.

Do Yoga Poses Really Work for Type-2 Diabetes?

You bet your ochre pajamas it does. There are tens of papers published on research studies conducted to study the efficacy of Yoga for improving disease parameters of Type-2 Diabetes. In most of these, participants felt the changes themselves –from improved energy levels to lowered sugar cravings to improvements in diabetic neuropathy and improved sleep (a huge factor for improving diabetes parameters). But science demands evidence, especially when the practice sounds oriental and “new-world-y”.

So here it is. One very effective way of examining the evidence is to look for a “systematic review” of several studies. The underlying studies should examine if Yoga works for Type-2 diabetes, in terms of objective outcomes – like lab-measured fasting blood glucose or triglycerides and body fat composition.

That’s exactly what authors Kim E Innes, Ph.D. and Terry Kit Selfe, D.C. and Ph.D. did. They carefully examined 25 such research studies, that included 2170 participants who did yoga over periods varying from 15 days to 12 months, with the vast majority of these lasting at least 12-weeks.

They then published their findings in the Journal for Diabetic Research in the 2016 paper, “Yoga for Adults with Type 2 Diabetes: Systematic Review of Controlled Trials”. They found that “yogic practices may promote significant improvements in several indices of importance in DM2 management, including glycemic control, lipid levels, and body composition”

That’s impressive.

Does Yoga Have Other Benefits As Well?

Yes, it does. Yoga works on not just the gross physical body (meaning muscles, organs, etc.) but goes beyond, to work on more subtle levels, such as the nervous system and the mind. Today, researchers are saying that people with diabetes are “inflamed,” a state that is accompanied by a continuous feeling of stress and the damage it causes.Yoga has a positive impact on:

  • The parasympathetic nervous system
  • It helps the body deal with the inflammation better and
  • Reduces stress hormones and the destruction they cause.

Innes and Selfe reported that in the 25 studies they examined, they found evidence that “More limited data suggest that yoga may also lower oxidative stress and blood pressure; enhance pulmonary and autonomic function, mood, sleep, and quality of life; and reduce medication use in adults with DM2.”

Is Yoga Dangerous?

Yes, but then so is crossing the road. If you do it right – and that means, gradually building up strength and flexibility, never over-reaching, listening to and following the special instructions given by the Yoga teacher – then, it can become the most rewarding routine of your daily life.

Do I Need to Set Aside Hours Each Day to Receive The Benefits of Yoga?

Yoga has a positive impact on the nervous system, helps the body deal with the inflammation better and reduces stress hormones.

Yoga has a positive impact on the nervous system, helps the body deal with the inflammation better and reduces stress hormones.

You can start with as little as 10 minutes a day, gradually building up to say, half an hour each day. Results begin to accrue on blood sugar parameters within as little as a fortnight of regular practice. So go ahead and take the first step. It’s very little pain and a whole lot of gain!

Check out this yoga for diabetes video that shows how simple yet powerful and highly beneficial asanas can be performed by diabetics as part of a healthy routine.

Are There Other Things Like Yoga That I Can Try?

Of course. There are as many methods as there are folks. While yoga poses, which work on both body and mind, are a very effective way to reduce the inflammation of diabetes, there are other proven methods of stress reduction and meditation that can also help. Maybe one of those would suit you better? In addition to this, you can consider walking and other simple exercises for Type 2 Diabetes, which also have impressive research backing them.

Finally, eating the right diet, getting the right exercise and fasting intermittently can make a huge difference to how well you are able to control and as some doctors today believe, reverse your Type 2 Diabetes. All the best!

Harsha Banthia
Harsha is a Sivananda certified Yoga Teacher and a K11 Fitness instructor. She is passionate about healing and uses yoga, panic healing, fitness training and Tibetan Bowl sound therapy to restore her clients back to great health and balance.