Yoga to manage diabetes

Therapy

Article by Suman Kannan

November 12th, 2021

Paschimottasana by Nagendra Singh Thakur.

Blood glucose is one of the main sources of energy in our body and comes from the food we eat and its subsequent digestion. Diabetes is a result of high or low levels of blood sugar. Insulin a hormone produced by the pancreas that enables the glucose to provide energy for your cells. When glucose doesn’t reach the cell but stays in excess in the blood it cause various health problems.

Yoga for diabetes can help to activate blood circulation to the pancreas region by simply practising these 5 yoga asanas/poses on an empty stomach every day. This helps to improve the flow of blood and the oxygen levels in the blood, which in turn helps to control the blood sugar levels and helps to reduce symptoms and aid in faster healing of problems like type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Here are some effective poses and pranayama in yoga for diabetes sequence:

1. Chakki Chalanasana (Mill Churning Pose)

One of the yoga poses in the yoga for diabetes sequence is the chakki chalanasana pose.

Chakki Chalanasana (Mill Churning Pose)

Chakki Chalanasana (Mill Churning Pose)

Steps:

  1. Sit in wide leg position seated comfortably extending the spine
  2. Inhale and interlock the fingers and stretch the arms out in front as you bend a bit.

Move from the waist, engage your core, back straight, and look at your clasped hands. Begin moving the upper body from right to left i.e clockwise. 3. Exhale and come to the centre again going in one full circle. Repeat the movement of the spine in circles with both the arms and the body moving clockwise. 4. Repeat this anticlockwise for 6 rounds.

Benefits:

  • Improves the functioning of the digestive system.
  • Improves the flexibility of our spine that helps to prevent back pain.
  • Very beneficial for reducing abdominal fat.
  • Massages the abdominal organs and thereby helps to squeeze out the toxins.

2. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend Pose)

Another very effective pose in the yoga for diabetes sequence is paschimottanasana. Paschima means the west or back, uttana implies intense stretch and asana is pose.

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend Pose)

Steps:

  1. Begin in dandasana i.e. seated pose.
  2. Legs are straight out in front and toes are pointing up.
  3. Sitting tall, hips are in line with sit bones.
  4. Pelvis is in a neutral position.
  5. Bring fingertips to the floor behind you.
  6. Inhale, lengthen your spine.
  7. Exhale, fold forward hinging from the hips.
  8. Hold for 20 seconds.
  9. Inhale and return to a tall seated position.

Benefits:

  • Has therapeutic effect for diabetic patients and for patients with weak liver and kidney.
  • Improves the alignment of the vertebral column.
  • Works on improving respiration as the body puts pressure on the thorax and abdomen.
  • Benefits women during menstrual disorders.

3. Mandukasana (Frog Pose)

An excellent pose that is effective in the yoga for diabetes sequence is mandukasana. ‘Manduka’ in Sanskrit means a frog. While performing this asana, our body posture looks like that of a frog, hence the name.

Mandukasana (Frog Pose)

Steps:

  1. Sit in Vajrasana.
  2. Inhale, form a fist with the thumb inside and place it below your navel close to your hip joints.
  3. Exhale, extend the spine.
  4. Inhale, raise the chest upwards, pressing the hands deep in.
  5. Exhale, slowly go forward from the torso as you reach for the floor in front.
  6. Inhale, exhale, stay down pressing the chest and face close to the thighs and floor.
  7. Inhale exhale, stay in the pose for 20 seconds.
  8. Inhale exhale, rise up and release.

Benefits:

  • The pressure on the abdominal muscles activates the pancreas, thus balancing the production of insulin and maintaining the sugar levels in the body.
  • Reduces asthma-related symptoms.
  • The pressure towards the upper and the lower abdomen brings in fresh blood massaging the internal organs.

4. Halasana (Plough Pose)

Halasana (Plough Pose) meaning 'plow' (or 'plough') which is a farming tool used to prepare the soil for sowing the crops. Hence the name 'Hal' = 'plow' and 'asana' = pose or posture. It is one of the effective poses in yoga for diabetes sequence.

Halasana (Plough Pose)

Steps:

  1. Maintain a neutral position for the neck.
  2. Bring elbows towards the body.
  3. Inhale, press shoulders and elbows down to base the body.
  4. Exhale, energize the core to lift up and turn the hips up to the ceiling, maintain a neutral spine, extend the legs back and slowly try touching the feet down on the floor.
  5. Hold the posture for 20 seconds.
  6. Inhale, bring the legs on the mat and release the posture.

Benefits:

  • Stimulates the thyroid gland and abdominal organs.
  • Activates digestion and helps with constipation.
  • This pose works on the entire body muscles.
  • Therapeutic for diabetes.

Pranayama (Breathing Exercise)

Yogic Breathing: Diaphragmatic breathing

Yoga for diabetes also includes breathing exercises like pranayama. Pranayama is proven to be excellent in controlling diabetes if practised regularly. Calming the body and the mind through Pranayama helps to connect with ourselves and makes the experience bliss.

Pranayama

Steps:

  1. Seated at the centre of the mat, cross your legs as you feel comfortable and raise the spine while closing your eyes. Begin to work with the breath and the movement of the body.
  2. Seated here in Sukhasana (easy pose) with palms close to the belly, watch the slow expansion and the contraction of the belly while inhaling and exhaling. Let your mind relax and ease the facial muscles.
  3. Sit here and take about 12 breaths or more till you feel comfortable with the movement of both the breath and the body. You can use a pillow or blankets as prop.

Benefits:

  • It helps to strengthen the diaphragm and reduces heavy breathing.
  • It slows down the heart rate, having better control of the blood pressure.
  • It allows effective use of the abdominal muscles with deep breathing supporting the internal organs, with the proper and sufficient flow of prana.

Try out these poses and pranayama in your regular practice to feel the difference.