Diabetes mellitus (DM), commonly referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic disorders in which there are high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger. If left untreated, diabetes can cause many complications. Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, foot ulcers, and damage to the eyes.
Pranayama, yoga & meditation, simply called 'yogic practices', to the daily regimen is a step in the right direction. Let us include yogic practices to the daily walk and beat diabetes.For sterling results with yogic practices, build in regularity & consistency. As far as possible, stick to a daily fixed schedule. It could be mornings or evenings depending on your other daily demands. Set aside the time and be disciplined about it. You will be amazed at the results.
How Exercise and Yoga helps to fight Diabetes
Diabetes is caused when your blood cells do not respond to insulin produced in the body. When you follow a regular exercise regimen, your body starts responding to insulin, helping to reduce your blood glucose. Exercise also helps improve blood circulation in your body, particularly in the arms and legs, where diabetic patients most commonly encounter problems. It is an excellent way to fight stress, both at the body and mind level, which in turn helps keep one’s glucose levels down.
Regular yoga practice can help reduce the level of sugar in the blood, along with lowering blood pressure, keeping your weight in check, reducing the severity of the symptoms and slowing the rate of progression of the disease. It also lessens the possibility of further complications.
Stress is one of the major reasons for diabetes. It increases the secretion of glucagon (a hormone responsible for increasing blood glucose levels) in the body. The consistent practice of yoga aasanas, pranayam and a few minutes of meditation can help reduce stress in the mind and protect the body from its adverse effects. This, in turn, reducing the amount of glucagon and improve the action of insulin.
The practice of yoga is also a proven to lose weight and slow the process of fat accumulation. Surya namaskar and kapal bhati pranayama are some of the most effective yoga poses that aid weight loss. Since obesity is a major contributing factor for diabetes, doing yoga to keep your weight in check is the key.
Here are some Yoga poses:-
Kapal Bhati / Pranayam (Skull Shining breathing technique)
Breathing in deeply and breathing out helps oxygenate your blood, and improves circulation. It also calms the mind and gives your rattled nerves some much needed rest.
- Sit on a yoga mat on the floor. Fold your legs in either padmasana or sit cross legged.
- Now straighten your back, keep your chin parallel to the floor, place your hands on your knees with your palms facing upwards and close your eyes.
- Breath in deep and hold your breath for five counts. Exhale slowly. Repeat this process at least ten times.
- Once you are done, rub your palms together till they are warm, and place them on your eyes. Now slowly open them.
Supta Matsyendrasana (Lying-down body twist)
The Lying-down body twist massages the internal organs and improves digestion. This posture also exerts pressure on the abdominal organs and is hence very helpful yoga posture for people suffering from diabetes.
- To begin this asana, you must lie flat and straight on your back. Exhale, and gently press your lower back on the floor.
- Contract your abdominal muscles. Then, inhale and bend your knees as you lift your feet off the floor.
- Exhale, and stretch your arms out such that they create one straight line with the shoulders. Place your palms facing downwards so that they give you that extra support. Use your core muscles to support your spine. While you do this, bring your knees and feet together.
- Inhale and lift your feet a little higher than your knees.
- Exhale and lower your legs to the left of the floor, making sure your knees and feet are stacked. You must also make sure that your knees should be at your hip level, and your heels should rest a foot away from your buttocks.
- Breath slowly and deeply as you gently turn your head to your right. Root down your right shoulder such that you are able to maintain a twist in your upper spine. If you keep your arms at the shoulder level, it will help root the shoulders. Hold the pose for about 30 to 60 seconds.
- To release the pose, press your hands into the floor, and contract the muscles in your abdomen. Inhale, and lift your chest and knees over your chest. Hold your knees.
- Exhale. Pull your thighs to your chest, and lift your head and chest to your thighs. Make sure you don’t lift your shoulders as your head is raised.
- Lower your shoulders and head to the floor, and contract your abdominal muscles. Then, stretch out your arms again, and repeat the twist on the other side.
Known quite aptly as the child’s pose this is a great stress buster. It gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles, calms the mind and helps relieve stress and fatigue. It is also a great remedy for that lower back pain you might have from long hours of sitting.
Tip: If you are pregnant, have a knee injury or have diarrhoea do not do this pose.
- Sit on the floor with your weight on your knees. Now flatten your feet onto the floor and sit on your heels.
- Spread your thighs apart a little. Exhale and bend forward from your waist.
- Let your stomach rest on your thighs and extend your back. Now stretch out your arms in front of you to elongate the back.
- You can also rest your forehead on the floor. This may require flexibility, so don’t push your body beyond its limit. You will get better with time.
- This is a resting pose so you should ideally breath at a normal pace. You can stay in this pose for as long as three minutes or as little as five counts
This is a simple pose that is great to relax the mind, improve digestion and massages the kanda. According to Ayurvedic principles, kanda is a spot about 12 inches above the anus that is the point of convergence for over 72,000 nerves.
- All you need to do is place a yoga mat on the floor.
- Kneel on the mat, and let the top surface of your feet touch the mat, such that your heels are pointing upwards.
- Now gently place your buttocks on your heels. It is important to note that your heels are on either side of your anus.
- Now place both your palms on your knees, facing downwards. Close your eye and breath in deeply at a steady rate.
Dhanurasana (Bow pose)
The Bow pose strengthens regulates the pancreas and is highly recommended for people with diabetes. This yoga pose also strengthens the abdominal muscles, back and spine, stimulate the reproductive organs, beats stress and fatigue, relieves menstrual pain and constipation.
Tip: Do not practice this pose if you have high or low blood pressure, hernia, neck injury, pain in the lower back, headache, migraine or a recent abdominal surgery or if you are pregnant.
- Lie on your stomach with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by the side of your body.
- Fold your knees and hold your ankles. Breathing in, lift your chest off the ground and pull your legs up and back.
- Look straight ahead with a smile on your face. Keep the pose stable while paying attention to your breath.
- Continue to take long deep breaths as you relax in this pose. But don’t get carried away!
- Do not overdo the stretch. After 15 -20 seconds, as you exhale, gently bring your legs and chest to the ground. Release the ankles and relax.
Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
This is a forward bending pose that helps the blood to flow to the face. Apart from that, it helps the stomach function better, strengthens the thigh muscles and relaxes the back and arms. This yoga posture helps balance the prana in the body and also calms the mind.
- Sit with your legs stretched out on the floor. Next hold the big toe of your feet with your index finger and thumb.
- Now, exhale and slowly bend forward and try to touch your forehead to your knees.
- The key is that your elbows should touch the floor.Do not breath in.
- Stay in this position for five counts and inhale as you rise back to the sitting position.
Tips to keep in mind: If you have any type of back pain or complaints with your spine, do not do this pose. Moreover, be easy on yourself, you might not be able to touch your knees with your forehead. Know that if you keep at it you will regain your flexibility and be able to do the pose properly.
Ardhya Matsyendrasana (Sitting half spinal twist)
The Sitting half spinal twist massages the abdominal organs, increases the oxygen supply to lungs and makes the spine supple. It also helps calm the mind and improves blood flow to spine.
- Sit up with your legs stretched out straight in front of you, keeping your feet together and your spine erect.
- Bend your left leg and place the heal of your left foot beside your right hip (optionally, you can keep your left leg straight).
- Now, Take the right leg over your left knee and place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind you.
- Twist at the waist, shoulders and neck in this sequence to the right and look over the right shoulder. Hold and continue with gentle long breaths in and out.
- To come back to the starting position, continue breathing out, release the right hand first (the hand behind you), release the waist, then chest,lastly the neck and sit up relaxed yet straight.
- Repeat to the other side. Breathing out, come back to the front and relax.
Tip: If you have a back injury, do this pose only in the presence of a certified trainer.
Shavasana (Corpse pose)
The final resting yoga pose, Corpse pose, takes the body into a deep meditative state, letting it relax and rejuvenate.
Just relax and simply lie down.