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Diabetes Mellitus hardly calls for any introduction. With more than 422 million diabetic and equally high numbers of pre-diabetic patients around the globe, it is assuming alarming proportions by the passing day. When the blood sugar levels in the human body rise due to inadequate production of insulin, it results in, what we call type 2 Diabetes. This metabolic imbalance however can be easily regulated with switching over to a few smart food choices and healthy lifestyle habits. There are many Yoga for diabetes that can help control it.
One such easy solution is YOGA. Yes, yoga for diabetes control can be one of the smartest ways of managing your blood sugar levels. Let’s see how
Yoga for diabetes: why & how?
- Yoga is one of the easiest workouts as it focuses only on and holding on to few body positions. It has a wide variety of aasanas that are suitable for people of all age groups.
- One of the most amazing things about YOGA is that you don’t need to push yourself off-limits for practising it; rather one may start with doing easy poses depending upon his/ her comfort level and can increase the intensity over a period of time.
- The calmness Yoga brings to your body and mind is surely the best antidote for stress & anxiety and hence perfect prevention & cure to various lifestyle disorders including Diabetes.
- Yoga cures diabetes mainly by improving metabolism and ensuring better regulation and utilisation of insulin in the body.
- With controlled breathing and specific body postures, yoga augments blood circulation to the pancreas which improves their efficiency in producing insulin.
- It also helps in weight loss and it is an effective way to keep your body weight within limits that again is very crucial issue for diabetic people.
- Diabetes can often get aggravated by the adverse effect of hypertension. Yoga controls this health issue by improving the functioning of the nervous and circulatory system.
- For pre-diabetics too, diabetes yoga is an easy prevention.
So now when you know Yoga is beneficial for diabetics, pre-diabetics and for everyone in so many ways; pull out your yoga mat, select a pleasant environment and get ready to take on this chronic disease called Diabetes.
Let’s get started
The best yoga for diabetes includes those aasanas which target the functioning of abdominal organs, nervous system, circulatory system and endocrine system. These aasanas improve body’s ability to make insulin by stimulating the pancreas and thus keep your blood sugar in control. Let’s have a quick look at a few of them.
Anulom-vilom (alternate nostril breathing)
Any pranayam i.e any controlled breathing yogic exercise is advisable for diabetes control; and this one is the easiest among all.
Sit comfortably, close your right nostril with right thumb and inhale deeply only from your left nostril. Thereafter close the left nostril with the middle finger of your right hand and exhale from the right nostril. Repeat at least 5 times and then inhale from the right nostril and exhale from the left in the similar way for another 5 times. Beside the calm and meditative effect of this yoga pose, Anulom vilom also helps in oxygenating the blood and improving the blood circulation throughout the body.
Dhanurasana (bow pose)
This one is highly recommended yoga for diabetes. It not only relieves you from stress and fatigue but it also strengthens and regulates the function of your pancreas. Moreover it is good for abdominal muscles and helps in alleviating digestive troubles like constipation.
Lie down flat on your stomach and grab your ankles with your hands from behind by folding your knees. Look straight into the front with a smile on your face and concentrate on taking deep breaths. Hold onto this position for 15-20 sec at the most, then release yourself and get back to your starting position.
Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
This is another easy yoga pose to cure diabetes by stimulating the digestive system. It also helps in reducing stress, increasing metabolism and maintaining a good body weight.
Sit on the mat with your legs stretched in the front. Bend forward now till you can rest your chin on your knees and try touching your toes by stretching your head. Maintain this posture for a few seconds as per your comfort level and then retain your initial position.
Ardha-matsyendrasana (spinal twist)
Sit with a straight back and legs stretched in your front. Bend your knee and move your left feet next to your right buttock. Then move your right feet towards your left by crossing over to the left knee. Now while holding your right feet with the left hand and keeping the right hand behind you on the floor; turn your torso towards right and try to look over to your right shoulder. Maintain this posture and focus on taking long and deep breaths. Lastly release your right hand and then turn back your torso slowly to the front. Repeat on the other side. This pose massages abdominal muscles and promotes oxygen supply to the lungs and blood supply to the spine. It also has a gentle calming effect on your mind and is good for diabetics.
Supta-matsyendrasana (Lying-down body twist)
Lie down on your back with your arms resting on the floor alongside your body. As you exhale; bend your left knee and take it towards your right side while crossing over to the right knee. Allow your hip to shift towards right for maintaining this pose and hold your left knee with your right hand. Stretch your left hand along the floor at shoulder height and try to look into the fingers of your left hand by turning your face towards left. Take 10-20 deep breaths in this yoga pose and lastly as you inhale move back slowly to retain your starting position.
Repeat this pose on the other side also. It is an excellent pose to strengthen abdominal muscles and massage abdominal organs. It helps to improve the complete digestive system.
Sarvangasana (shoulder stand)
Lie down on the floor and stretch your legs. Then slowly lift your legs and torso upwards in a way that they become perpendicular to the floor and all your body weight comes on your shoulders. You may use your palms to hold your back in maintaining the position, but keep your elbows on the floor. It is also important to move back to the initial position slowly and not abruptly like a fall. This yoga posture is good in diabetes as it targets the thyroid glands.
It also helps in oxygenating the blood ensuring proper oxygen supply throughout the body and thus improving your overall health.
Vajrasana / (diamond pose)
This is an easy yet very effective yoga for diabetes. Sit on the yoga mat by bending your knees and placing your buttocks on your heels. Rest your palms on your thighs and focus on your breathing. This will boost the blood circulation to your abdominal area and thus improve the functioning of digestive organs including liver, stomach and pancreas.
Balasana / (child pose)
For this yoga posture, start with sitting like we do in vajrasaana. Breathe in deeply and as you breathe out, bend forward with your arms stretched alongside your head and continue bending till your forehead and palms touch the floor. Maintain this position for a few seconds and then move back slowly to the initial vajrasana posture.
Child pose is great way to get rid of stress, fatigue and anxiety. It also improves metabolic function and hence keeps the body’s glucose levels within recommended limits.
Halasana (plough pose)
This is an excellent pose to practice specially for those who are struggling with bad posture and sedentary lifestyle. It helps in regulating the blood sugar, reducing stress and in improving metabolism.
Lie down on your back with your legs straight and arms resting on the floor alongside your body. Now sweep your legs upwards, bend your hips and try to touch the floor above your head with your toes. Hold this pose as long as you are comfortable and then roll back to the initial position.
Shavasana/ (corpse pose)
This one is certainly the easiest and most relaxing yoga posture among all. It is often the last aasana to practice during any yogic workout. All you need to do is lie down on your back with your palms at 6 inches from the body on both sides and your feet at hip length apart. Breathe gently and naturally.
It not only relieves you from all the fatigue, stress, tension, insomnia but also increases energy levels and rejuvenates yourself from within.
Word of caution
As we all know, any treatment can only be effective if we combine it with recommended precautions and yoga is no different. So here is smalls list of instructions that you must follow to cure diabetes with yoga:
- First and foremost if you are a diabetic who wants to start yoga then you must get the consent of your health care provider.
- Get yourself enrolled under a certified yoga instructor, who can guide you well regarding various yoga posture as per your limits.
- Generally the preferred time to practice yoga is in morning and evening but for diabetics yoga can be best if practiced before having meals.
- As always, be cautious of not overly exerting yourself and try to push your limits gradually as and when you feel comfortable.
- If you are a beginner it is recommended that you start with performing easy yoga postures and hold them for shorter durations.
- As you adapt to yoga for diabetes; monitor your blood sugar regularly, under the supervision of an endocrinologist.
- Lastly, it is important to remember that no treatment can be effective in diabetes unless you couple it with healthy diet.
Diet for diabetics
In contrast to popular notion, healthy diet is not by any means just about boiled and bland food but rather more about making smart food choices and having them on time. A few of “must haves” and “must avoid” are mentioned below.
What to have
- Fill your platter with lots of fresh green vegetables (like spinach, lettuce, kale, etc.) boiled, steamed or just raw as salad.
- Include Fresh and seasonal fruits into your daily diet. It is better to eat whole fruit rather than going only for its juice.
- Keep dry fruits & nuts handy to satisfy your untimely food cravings.
- Foods that are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, proteins, fibre and Omega3 like eggs, fish, wholegrain, oats and olive oil are also good for diabetics.
- Pay attention on glycemic index of the food items and go for the ones that have a lower value.
- Keep yourself hydrated. If plain water is not your type, opt for Detox water.
- Opt for unprocessed and low fat dairy products.
What to avoid
- Avoid foods that are high in saturated fatty acids, like fried foods.
- Avoid all food items that are high in sugar, salt and starch.
- Avoid canned and frozen food items including canned fruit juices.
- Avoid alcohol and carbonated drinks.
- Avoid processed and refined food item including cheese, butter, white bread, white rice, etc.
Don’t expect spontaneous results in your diabetic condition. However, with regular practice of yoga and few changes in your food choices and lifestyle habits, you can certainly make steady progress in maintaining your blood sugar levels within the normal range. The reduction in stress levels and overall positivity of body & mind, comes as an additional bonus for your overall health.
Aafiya is a health and wellness enthusiast. She utilizes her spare time to contribute insightful articles around day to day lifestyle challenges and their remedies, that all can relate to.
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