As our lifestyle is increasingly becoming sedentary with unhealthy eating practices and irregular sleeping patterns, it is affecting our body, physically and mentally. At present, India is home to the second-largest diabetes patients in the world. In the human body, insulin is the hormone that regulates sugar content in the blood. Diabetes occurs due to a fluctuation in sugar levels in our blood and can be of two types. Type-1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin. Type-2 diabetes is a medical condition when our body fails to use insulin effectively. While Type-1 diabetes requires insulin in the form of injections or insulin pumps, the treatment of Type-2 diabetes is possible by using drugs that increase the efficiency of insulin absorption.
Alternatively, following a proper diet and exercise routine can help in managing the blood sugar levels efficiently in the case of Type-2 diabetes. Although exercise helps in preventing complications, it can be quite daunting for physically-inactive and older people. In such cases, yoga can be a gentle yet effective way to build strength, maintain fitness, and improve the physical and mental wellness of their bodies.
Benefits of Yoga for Diabetes
Since most of the yoga asanas are gentle on your joints and heart, yoga is an excellent choice for staying healthy with diabetes. Yoga is an effective way of resistance training to build your muscles that helps in better regulation of blood sugar levels in the body. Additionally, it results in the efficient utilization of insulin by converting glucose into energy. Here are some of the most prominent health benefits of yoga for diabetic patients:
- Lowering stress levels
- Boosting strength and flexibility
- Preventing heart diseases
- Improving emotional health
- Relaxing the mind and reducing stress
Yoga Asanas for Diabetic Patients
Sun salutation or Surya Namaskar is one of the most basic yoga asanas for beginners. The sequence of 12 simple yet powerful asanas in the morning can work wonders for your mind and body. Additionally, here are some of the most-recommended yoga asanas for diabetic patients:
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
This basic yoga for beginners pose improves your posture and reduces flat feet. Apart from strengthening your thighs, knees, and ankles, this pose also provides relief from backaches.
- Stand with your feet slightly apart on the floor and your arms at the sides.
- Tuck your tailbone to engage the abdominal and hamstring muscles.
- Breathe in and extend your arms upward on the sides with your palms facing up.
- Exhale and bring your arms back down slowly.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This relaxing pose helps in the production of beta cells that produce insulin. Child’s pose is a perfect resting pose to practice between more challenging poses.
- Sit on your feet with your knees apart.
- Lower down your head slowly to the mat, and rest your belly on top of your thighs.
- Stretch your arms forward with your palms facing down as you touch the mat in front of your head.
- Hold this pose for 10 to 20 seconds, and relax the tailbone towards your heels to stretch your lower back.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana improves blood circulation by stretching your chest, spine, neck, and hips. It also calms your nervous system and brain to alleviate depression and stress.
- Lie on your back with knees bent, keep feet flat on the floor and maintain a distance of hip-width to keep your legs apart.
- Press your heels down into the mat. Lift the tailbone to keep your hips and lower back above the floor.
- Lace the fingers of both the hands together under the hips
- Use your abdomen and hamstrings to hold the bottom and back up. Now, Release your fingers and slowly lower tailbone back down.
Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
By strengthening your wrists, arms, shoulders, and spine, the Plank Pose improves your posture and tones all the core muscles.
- Get on the floor on your hands and knees with your toes tucked.
- Lift-off your knees from the mat and stretch your feet towards the end.
- In this position, your body must form a straight line, and your shoulders must stack vertically over the wrists, similar to a push up position.
- Hold the pose by engaging the abdominal muscles for around a minute until you are comfortable. Relax down slowly.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This ultimate restorative pose helps in relaxing the mind and improves concentration. Usually performed at the end of yoga practice, this pose induces sleep and relieves headaches and fatigue.
- Lie flat on your back with your arms resting at the sides and palms facing up.
- Relax your body, inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth.
- Starting with gentle breathing, proceed for deep inhaling and exhaling.
- This pose produces the best results when you warm up for about 5 minutes and end with a 10-minute relaxation.
Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
The backbend pose controls the blood sugar levels by stimulating your abdominal organs and opening up your chest.
- Lie down on your stomach and rest your arms alongside your body. Your palms must be facing up.
- Bend your knees and place your hands outside your ankles.
- Lift your head, chest, and knees.
- Breathe deeply and maintain this pose for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Release the pose as your exhale.
- Make a pillow for your forehead by keeping your one hand on top of the other.
- Shake your hips from one side to the other gently to relax your lower back.
Plow Pose (Halasana)
Plow pose inverted pose increases blood circulation, relieves backache, and helps in reducing stress, headache, and insomnia.
- Stand upside down on your shoulders and move your feet above your head to touch the floor.
- For added support, place your hands on your lower back.
- You can use a pillow or a chair/stool if you cannot touch the floor with your feet.
- Maintain this pose for 1 to 5 minutes until you are comfortable.
- Release by rolling down your spine back and raise your legs to form a right angle.
- Lower down your legs to lie on your mat.
Upward-facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Shavanasana)
Although this pose requires a lot of physical strength, it helps in improving blood circulation and promoting weight loss.
- Lie on stomach and extend the legs behind.
- Keep your forearms perpendicular to the floor and place your palms flat on the floor.
- Straighten your arms and press into your palms as you lift your body and legs.
- Bend your elbows slightly and engage your abdominal, arm, and thigh muscles. Keep your hips and shoulders firm.
- Relax your neck and maintain the pose for 20 to 30 seconds.
Seated Forward Bend Pose (Paschimottanasana)
The therapeutic forward bending pose promotes weight loss and helps in relieving fatigue, headache, and anxiety.
- Sit down on the mat, then extend your legs.
- Draw your toes back towards your shins.
- Sit straight on your sit bones and lengthen your spine.
- Hinging at your hips, bend forward to touch your feet with your hands.
- Fold your torso in between your legs with your chin tucking into your chest.
- Maintain the pose for up to 3 minutes until you are comfortable.
Legs up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This restorative inversion pose provides relaxation to help lower the stress and headaches. By increasing circulation and boosting energy, this pose helps in reducing blood sugar levels.
- Sit down on the floor with your body resting against a wall on the right side.
- Lift your legs along the wall by lying flat on your back as your body forms a right angle against the wall.
- Place your sitting bones close to the wall and relax your chin and neck.
- Stretch your arms outward on the sides with your palms facing up.
- Maintain this pose for 5 to 10 minutes before releasing your legs slowly down on the side.
Physical activity, especially yoga, continues to be an essential health regime for people with diabetes. Yoga helps in managing stress while improving physical stamina, flexibility, and strength. Although yoga is a gentle exercise and the yoga asanas mentioned above rarely harm your body, you must consult a professional yoga instructor and your doctor before you start practicing them. Depending on your health conditions, they might be able to suggest the best yoga poses. It’s best to start with beginner’s yoga and pull back if you feel pain or discomfort.