Yoga for Diabetics: Seven Yogasanas for the Ailing Diabetic Soul

    Yoga for Diabetics: Seven Yogasanas for the Ailing Diabetic Soul

    The WHO 2014 survey results on diabetes will stun you. Presently, there are over 422 million diabetics worldwide with 1.5 million deaths caused because of the same in the year 2012. Predictions have been made that by 2030; diabetes will occupy the seventh spot as the cause of death. With increasing obesity and unhealthy lifestyle choices, the gene expression patterns are slowly creeping into subsequent generations, making it a hereditary affair. The age group of the patients varies from little kids to adults aging over 70 years of age. The pressures of modern life have certainly complicated the governing principles and have formed a cobweb where once trapped, there is no getting away.

    Tracing the relationship between yoga and diabetes

    While the numbers increase exponentially, simultaneously efforts are made to understand the correlation between yoga and diabetes. This ancient form of exercise, mostly undertaken by yogis or saints bestowed them with a healthy lifestyle. When tracing the relationship between yoga and diabetes, there are five main postulates that can come into play, as observed by Dr. B.K. Sahay, the president of “Research Society for Study of Diabetes in India”.

    1. As means of Regular Physical Activity
    2. Striking the Balance Between Life and Diet
    3. Severing the ties between Stress and Strain or Shavasana
    4. Alterations in the Biochemical Profile of the body like pyruvate, lactate, ubiquinone etc.
    5. Alterations induced in the hormonal profile which play a key role in regulating blood sugar levels

    Keeping pace with the diseased body, yoga tends to fill in the gaps and corrects minor defects in the pathway to make your system healthier and stronger. Did the ascetics not live longer and healthier lives? Each postulate corrects every flaw in our day-to-day lives, leaving us with a healthier body. But of course, one must chose the poses carefully.

    Yogasanas for Diabetics

    According to a study, made on twenty five obese type 2 diabetics yielded the following results. The yogasanas that proved beneficial are listed below in the decreasing levels of their effectiveness.

    1. Dhanurasana

     

    Otherwise known as bow pose or Urdva Chakrasana, this asana strengthens the back, relieves menstrual pains and other discomforts

    Instructions:

    • Lie flat on your stomach
    • Fold your knees to stretch your hands on either sides and hold your ankle.
    • As you breathe in the fresh air, lift your chest off the ground.
    • Watch your breath, as you look straight. Retain the pose for no longer than fifteen to twenty seconds.
    • As you exhale, bring your chest back on the ground and let go of your ankles gently.

    Benefits on diabetics:

    This asana improves digestion by relieving flatulence and constipation. It has magical effects on the liver, intestines and the pancreas and is thus beneficial for diabetics.

    1. Ardhamatsayendrasana

     

    Ardhamatsyasana, or vakrasana is also called half spinal twist and half lord of the fishes. It is named after the renowned yogi Matsyaendranath. The twist in the abdomen is however, not suitable for menstruating or pregnant women.

    Instructions:

    • Kneel down and sit on your heels with your back straight.
    • Move your legs to the right as you inhale.
    • Rest your hands firmly on the ground for support.
    • Place your left leg over your right leg.
    • Bring your right heel closer to your buttocks and the left feet closer to your right thigh for support.
    • Stretch your arms and twist your upper body to the left side. Rest your hands on the ground for support.
    • Slowly, exhale and untwist your upper body after stretching your arms.
    • Move your left leg so as to bring it to the position your left leg is in.
    • Come back to your original position where you kneel down with your buttocks resting on your heels.
    • Repeat the exercise with your right leg.

    Benefits on diabetics:

    The food consumed by diabetics is often not digested completely and is retained in the intestines, increasing the chances of tumors and the putrefaction of food often leads to colon cancer. Ardhamatsyasana cleans the intestines and stimulates secretion of pancreatic juices, which cater various physiological activities in the body including digestion and aid in both the phases of detoxification process in the liver.

    1. Bhujangasana

     

    Bhujangasana, frequently addressed as the cobra pose. Good for thyroid, slipped disc and for alleviating rheumatism, bhujangasana is not recommended for hypothyroid patients. However, it works like a charmer for hyperthyroid patients and effectively lowers to regulate the hormonal secretions of the glands.

    Instructions:

    • Lie down flat on your stomach.
    • Bring your legs close together. However, leave a gap of a foot or two when practiced to cure backache.
    • Bend your hands at your elbows and rest them beside the shoulder.
    • Slowly inhale as you lift your chest off the ground.
    • Look straight as your muscles relax.
    • Slowly exhale the air and bring your chest back to the ground.
    • Keeping your legs together, lie flat on your stomach for a minute before you can resume the pose. 

    Benefits on diabetics:

    Awaking kundalini, the primal energy at the base of the spine, it directly influences plexus , neurons and important nerves.  it strengthens the spine, releases tension and stress from the muscles of the back. Compressing the kidneys, it allows the Bowman’s capsule to effectively filter stagnated blood and flush the toxins out of the body. When practicing bhujangasana alongside a diet rich in avocados and walnuts, it stimulates the secretion of glutathione, an effective compound to flush out toxins out of the body.

    1. Naukasana

     

    Naukasana, as the name suggests, causes the body to take the shape of a nauka, or a boat. It has special significance in Padma Sadhana where it is practiced after Dhanurasana. This yogasana is a big no no if you suffer from migraine, frequent headaches, asthma and cardiovascular ailments.

    Instructions:

    • Lie on your back.
    • Rest your hands beside your body and your legs close together.
    • Look straight as the idea is to keep your eyes, nose and toes in a line.
    • Slowly lift both your feet and your shoulders off the ground simultaneously.
    • As the tension in your abdomen builds up, feel the muscles contract gently.
    • Retain the position for twenty seconds and increase the time span with practice.
    • Exhale gently and bring both your shoulders and your feet back on the ground.

    Benefits on diabetics:

    Again, working on the abdominal area, naukasana slims down the limbs and the fat deposition in the navel region. Exposing lungs, liver and pancreas to optimum pressure, it allows faster digestion, effective absorption and assimilation of the nutrients. Applying pressure on the intestines and the rectum, it alleviates constipation with regular riddance from the solid wastes in the body. 

    1. Halasana

     

     

    Halasana or the plow pose is therapeutic for the muscles as they stretch and relax to release stress. Since it lays considerable pressure on the cervical region or the neck, it must be practiced with caution. It also prepares the mind for rejuvenation and influx of positivity.

    Instructions:

    • Lie flat on your back with your arms resting on either side of your body.
    • Inhale and raise your feet above the floor to form a ninety-degree angle with the floor.
    • Supporting your hips and waist with the help of your hands, slowly lift it up from the ground.
    • Let your legs sweep as it experiences a hundred and eighty degree rotation to rest the toes firmly on the ground.
    • Rest your hands on either sides of the body and retain the posture for forty-five seconds.
    • Exhale and support your hips and waist to bring your legs in the air forming a ninety-degree angle with the floor.
    • Without letting go of the support, bring your legs back to the position where you lay flat on your back on the ground.

    Benefits on diabetics:

    Other than releasing stress and fatigue, halasana effectively regulates blood sugar levels by improving digestion. It also removes gas and back pains.

    1. Vajrasana

    Vajrasana

    Vajrasana or diamond pose is a simple sitting asana. Practiced generally after meals, it can be practiced at any time of the day. This asana is often used for practicing various other asanas and meditation. Regular practice of this asana makes the body healthier and stronger.

    Instructions:

    • Kneel down on your knees.
    • Make sure that the toes of both the feet are touching.
    • Rest your buttocks on the heels.
    • Rest your hands on either knee with the palm facing the sky.
    • Inhale and exhale as you retain the pose for a good two minutes.
    • Slowly increase the time interval for holding the position.

    Benefits on diabetics:

    Working on the core strength of the body, the abdomen and the legs, it helps to reduce hip fat, predominantly present in most women post pregnancy or while approaching menopause. Vajrasana cures acidity. It lays pressure on the kidney to filter urea effectively. Increasing circulation, this asana also relieves knee pain, yet another common effect of obesity and diabetes.

    1. Paschimottanasana

    Paschimottanasana

    Also called the forward seated bend, paschimottasana must not be practiced by pregnant women, slipped disc patients and people with ulcers.

    Instructions:

    • Sit straight with your legs stretched in front.
    • Keeping your neck, shoulders and back erect, rest your palms n the ground firmly.
    • Slowly inhale and stretch your hands as you bend forward and catch the toes with your thumb.
    • As you bend, let your elbows touch the floor.
    • Stay in the position for thirty seconds.
    • Slowly exhale as you come back to the position with your legs stretch and your back straight.

    Benefits on diabetics:

    This asana is an excellent stress reliever. As you push your body forward, the muscles around your abdomen are forced to burn excess fats. As you witness the layer of fat diminish, the muscles underneath is toned. Aiding the weight loss process, it reduces the blood sugar levels by controlling the glycogen and fat content of the body.

    1. Pranayama

    Pranayama

    Pranayama or control of breath is perhaps the most popular of the lot. Effective in numerous clinical conditions including breathing ailments, obesity and digestion disorder, it has been ranked as the eight most effective yogasana that regulates blood sugar levels.

    Instructions:

    • Sit straight with your back perfectly erect.
    • With your left leg resting over your right leg, allow your muscles to relax. This pose is called padmasana, one of the easiest asanas in the ancient yogic texts.
    • Curve your thumb and your index finger so that they touch at the tips. Rest of the fingers of your hand remains straight. This is called the pranava mudra.
    • Now breathe slowly. Here there are three stages: stage one, quiet breathing where you follow the normal breathing pattern, stage two, deep breathing where one deliberately slows down the breathing rate and concentrates on the quality by breathing deep and stage three, fast breathing where one can deliberately increase the breathing rate by taking short shallow breaths.
    • Begin with normal breathing and slowly move towards regulating your breath. As you progress, switch to the other mudras for different breathing patterns to yield maximum benefits.

    Benefits on diabetics:

    Pranayama has the reputation of unclogging blocked tubes in the system. This unclogs various pathways, which lead to a healthier metabolism and better digestion. Pranayama also strengthens the muscles of various core abdominal organs like stomach, esophagus and the intestines, which allow them to push out undigested food to the rectum and keep the insides of the tubes squeaky clean.

    Diabetes if not cured completely, one can start out by controlling the blood sugar levels naturally with yogasana provided you have the dedication and the willingness to fight the forces acting against the natural working of your body. Embrace some discipline and as they say, “take care of the little things and the rest will fall in place.”