Managing Diabetes with Yoga

You have got Diabetes.

This is quite a startling diagnosis for most people. Despite the fact that one out of every 14 Indians suffers from this lifestyle disorder.

This diagnosis most often results in gloom all over the household with the entire family suddenly diverting its attention to the diet of the newly diagnosed diabetic.

Anything that the just detected diabetic eats is ruled unworthy of consumption in some corner of Google that the entire family is completely hooked on to.

Managing diabetes, is not just about lowering blood sugar levels. Beyond this it consists offering viable options to eat, exercising , maintaining health of vital organs such as eyes, kidneys and heart. It also involves foot care and management of overall quality of life.

In diabetes, the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood.

In simple terms, Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough—or any—insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells.

Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems. This condition is called Diabetes.

Diabetes as a disease does not have a cure, but can be prevented and managed.

The most common types of diabetes are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.


Type 1 Diabetes

In most people with type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system, which normally fights infection, attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This in turn reduces the amount of Insulin produced

It is an autoimmune condition. What prompts the attacks isn’t clear. There may be both genetic and environmental reasons.

Type 1 diabetes typically occurs in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age. Having a parent or sibling with the disease may increase your chance of developing type 1 diabetes.

People with Type 1 diabetes are treated with frequent doses of Insulin as the body isn’t able to produce its own Insulin. This is coupled with restrictions on diet and  being physically active.


Type 2 Diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Too much glucose then stays in your blood, and not enough reaches your cells.

Type 2 Diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance, which may be combined with relatively reduced insulin secretion. Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by several factors, including

  • Overweight and Obesity
  • Stressful lifestyle
  • Not being physically active
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Genes

The advantage here is that Type 2 Diabetes can be managed and prevented.

Lifestyle changes that include planning healthy meals, limiting calories if you are overweight, and being physically active are part of managing your diabetes.

Research such as the Diabetes Prevention Program, has shown that you can take steps to reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by eating right and exercising regularly.


Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is due to insulin-blocking hormones produced during pregnancy. This type of diabetes only occurs during pregnancy and is similar to type 2 Diabetes.



Common symptoms of diabetes include

  • increased thirst and urination
  • increased hunger
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  • sores that do not heal
  • unexplained weight loss


There is no known preventive measure for type 1 diabetes.[2] Type 2 diabetes – which accounts for 85–90% of all cases – can often be prevented or delayed by maintaining a normal body weight, engaging in physical activity, and consuming a healthy diet.[2] Higher levels of physical activity (more than 90 minutes per day) reduce the risk of diabetes by 28%.[67]

The Role of Yoga

Yoga can play an important role in the management and prevention of Diabetes.

Stress can lead to higher blood pressure and over-eating. This in turn may contribute to increase in weight and obesity. In the long run period this may lead to Type 2 diabetes.

Yoga helps to keep stress under check. Thus preventing the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. The dynamic exercises also help to keep fit and maintain a healthy body weight.

Yoga postures massage the abdomen and stimulate the pancreas, increasing blood and oxygen supply. As a result improving the organ’s ability to produce insulin.

Yoga thus has the ability to work both on the physical and mental aspects of the individual while dealing with Diabetes.

Surya Namaskar is a very effective practice for diabetes. Not only does it energise the body, increase physical activity, but it also works on various chakras and on the endocrine system to regulate different hormonal secretions . Thus Surya Namaskar is a very comprehensive practice for diabetics.

Kriyas such as Agnisaar help massage the whole abdomen, including the pancreas stimulating the Islets of Langerhans, containing beta cells responsible for insulin secretion.

All twisting asanas such as vakrasan and its variations, ardhamatsyendra asana, dhanurasan, Pawana muktasan , paschimottanasan are extremely effective for improving pancreatic functioning. Retention of each of these asanas for a long period of time is important.

In case of people who cannot hold asana for a long time, the practice can be modified to be done on a chair with almost the same effect.

Pranayam practices such as Bhastrika help massage the pancreas and stimulate insulin secretion.

Meditation on the Manipur chakra is a powerful practice to alleviate diabetes.

Awareness, relaxation, activity – are all very important for managing quality of life in diabetes. More important is to manage not just the disease but the individual holistically.

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