Yoga practice is also useful in the management of various lifestyle disorders including Type 2 Diabetes as the incorporation of yoga practice in daily life helps to attain glycemic control.
Nowadays, Type 2 diabetes has become a common lifestyle disorder which is caused by insulin resistance resulting in chronic hyperglycemia and various other complications. A sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy dietary patterns are the major risk factors for the development of various lifestyle disorders, including diabetes. Psychological stress also increases the severity of diabetes.
Yoga, which originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, aims at balancing the body, mind, and soul. Traditionally, yoga is a mind-body practice with the ultimate goal of spiritual enlightenment. It provides opportunities for self-awareness.
The word ‘Yoga’ is a Sanskrit name which means ‘to join’ or ‘to unite’, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness. Yoga is often compared with the tree and comprises 8 aspects or limbs such as:
- Yama (Universal ethics)
- Niyama (Individual ethics)
- Asana (Physical postures)
- Pranayama (Breath-control)
- Pratyahara (Control of the senses)
- Dharana (Concentration)
- Dhyana (Meditation)
- Samadhi (Bliss).
Recognizing its universal appeal, the United Nations on 11th December 2014 proclaimed 21 June as the International Day of Yoga.
Many yoga asanas have been found to be beneficial in the Management of Type 2 Diabetes but their judicious use is recommended after a careful assessment of patient’s health.
- They emphasize on the relationship of mind, body, and awareness and focus on the synchronization of movement and breathing.
- The key to performing a yoga posture is that it should be performed with stability and comfort and involves stretching, twisting, movements, and relaxation.
Some Yoga Practices Beneficial for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes
- Surya Namaskar (Sun salutation)
- Vakrasan (Spinal twist)
- Trikonasana (Triangle pose)
- Bhujangasan (Cobra pose)
- Pavanmuktasana (Wind relieving pose)
- Om Chanting
1.Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation):
This yogic exercise involves a series of various yogic postures which are performed in a series of a specific sequence.
It is a complete yoga asana in itself and involves 11 steps such as
- Pranamasana(prayer pose)
- Utthana hasthasana(raised arms pose)
- padahastanasana(standing forward bend)
- ashva sanchalanasana (equestrian pose)
- phalakasana(stick pose)
- ashtang namaskar(salute with eight points)
- bhujangasana(cobra pose)
- adho mukha svanasana(downward facing pose)
- ashva sanchalanasana(equestrian pose)
- padahastanasana(standing forward bend)
- pranamasana(mountain pose)
It increases cellular requirements for oxygen and glucose and to meet these requirements, through brain signaling, insulin production is stimulated.
The diabetic patient should practice 3-7 rounds at a slow speed and according to an individual’s capacity.
2. Vakrasan (Spinal Twist)
It is a very basic asana (pose) and it is recommended for overall body health as well.
- It is a seated yoga posture which improves the function of pancreas.
- Vakrasan is a pose having seated spinal twist that squeezes the intestines and massage them to prevent the stagnation of colonic contents.
- It is recommended that diabetic patients should hold the final pose for 15 seconds or as per their capacity and then gradually increase the duration upto 1 minute.
3.Trikonasana (Triangle pose):
Trikonasana is a standing pose that works on all areas of the abdomen and further helps in keeping the kidneys in good working condition.
- It improves blood supply and enhances insulin receptor expression in the muscles.
- It is recommended to hold the final pose for 15 seconds and gradually increases the duration up to 1 minute.
4.Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose):
Bhujangasana is a prone pose that stimulates and massages the pancreas and helps in the proper functioning of the gland.
- This pose allows more blood to circulate in the pancreas and the whole body region.
- Due to an increase in the amount of blood flow, the efficiency of beta-cells increases.
- Diabetic patients should hold the final pose for 15 seconds and then gradually increase the duration up to 1 minute.
5.Pavanmuktasana (Wind Relieving Pose):
Pavanmuktasana is supine pose often known as ‘gas releasing pose’ and it braces up the entire system of the body including pancreas, liver, spleen, abdomen and abdominal muscles.
- This asana causes a contraction in the abdominal muscles which improve the functionality of the abdominal organs.
- Diabetic patients should hold the final pose for 15 seconds and gradually increase the duration up to 1 minute.
Several types of researches have shown that chanting Om is based on the physics of sound, resonance, vibrations, etc. that has a positive effect on health.
- Chanting Om results in the removal of negative thoughts, an increase of energy, relaxation of brain and body.
- Thus, chanting Om in supine posture produces an integrated relaxation response, which may have a clinical significance in the management of diabetes and hypertension.
Thus, Yoga postures help in the stretching of abdominal muscles which help in the regeneration of pancreatic cells and there is an improvement in the sensitivity of beta-cells to glucose, thereby there is an improvement in the secretion of insulin, increase in the blood supply to the muscles and muscle relaxation, thereby improving glucose uptake.
In addition to Yoga Asanas (Yoga Poses), Yogic breathing (Pranayam), Dhyaan (Meditation) have positive effects on the sugar levels and it is recommended in the management of diabetes.
Meditation has been shown to cause physiological changes in the brain and meditators are less prone to stress.
- The mental stability that is attained through Meditation helps diabetic patients.
- Mindfulness Meditation is advocated for better sleep, greater relaxation, positivity in life etc.
Pranayama is control of breath. “Prana” is a breath or vital energy in the body. The slow breathing technique involved in Pranayama causes comprehensive changes in the physiology of the body as it controls the autonomic nervous system.
- Pranayama such as Bhastrika Pranayam (bellow-breathing) is energetic and powerful pranayama known as “the breath of fire”.
- This pranayama helps in the regulation of pituitary, pineal, and adrenal glands which play an important role in the regulation of metabolism.
Yoga also prevents the development of diabetes in individuals who have a high risk of developing diabetes and also a results in a reduction of fasting blood sugar, postprandial blood sugar (blood sugar after meals), anti-diabetic drug requirements thus suggesting improved glycemic control.
Its regular practice helps in enhancing awareness of the mind and body which is needed in the self-management of diet in diabetes. Moreover, regular yoga practice also reduces the risk of diabetes-related complications.