No one knows how old the science of Yoga is. Some say it originated 5,000 years ago, while few others say it is 10,000 years old!
Yoga, a spiritual discipline of India, has even gained popularity in the western world because of its numerous health benefits. This subtle science offers a gentle way to start building your stamina and improving overall health.
Even for people with diabetes, it can lower their stress levels, manage high blood pressure, prevent blood sugar rise, and may even reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications like heart disease, diabetic neuropathy, and hypertension.
What does medical research have to say about Yoga in diabetes?
Studies have shown that practicing Yoga daily for just 10 minutes can improve your fasting blood sugar levels, heart rate, and blood pressure. It can also prevent or delay the onset of diabetes in those at a higher risk of the condition.
Another study saw positive health outcomes in people who participated in a 12-week yoga course. Improvements were seen in weight, insulin levels, triglycerides, and blood pressure — all the factors that play a vital role in achieving good glycemic control in patients with diabetes.
Benefits of Yoga for people with diabetes:
- Reduces stress & anxiety, which is a critical part of diabetes management as it significantly impacts a person’s health outcomes. Research has shown that Yoga significantly reduces stress levels by altering the chemicals in the brain.
- Improves psychological well-being since Yoga involves deep breathing exercises that develop a mind-body connection.
- Improves muscle strength. Research has shown that Yoga can reduce liver fat by improving your strength and prevent a spike in blood glucose levels. Additionally, by building your strength through Yoga, you can manage peripheral neuropathy (damage to nerves), seen commonly in people with diabetes.
- Protects the heart. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommended Yoga as it improves heart health and lowers blood pressure.
- Makes the body flexible and improves balance through various asanas or poses.
5 best yoga poses for people with diabetes
Finding just 30 minutes each day for yourself may seem like a challenge in your fast-paced life, but taking that time out for yourself will be extremely rewarding. Remember — consistency is the key.
Here is what you will need: A Yoga mat and a water bottle. Wait at least 2 hours after a meal before you start your Yoga practice. Ideally, the best time for Yoga is to do it first thing in the morning before breakfast, but if that’s not possible, set aside a fixed time for this form of exercise.
Tadasana or mountain pose –It is the foundation of all standing poses in Yoga. It helps in good body alignment, and here is how you should do this simple asana:
Stand straight with your arms at the sides and your feet flat on the floor.
Lift your feet, kneecaps, and thighs.
Engage your core and pelvic floor muscles. Breathe in and open up your chest, extending the arms up and out to the side of your head. Hold in this position for a few seconds.
Exhale, slowly bringing the arms and feet back down. Relax.
Adho mukha svanasana, or downward-facing dog –It is a widely recognised Yoga pose and can be effortlessly done by beginners too!
Come on your four hands and knees on a Yoga mat such that your back forms a tabletop.
Lift your hips to the ceiling and slowly straighten your elbows and legs.
The body should form an upside-down “V” shape.
Press your hands and feet into the floor, keeping most of the weight in the legs rather than the arms. Your heels do not have to touch the floor. Hold for a few seconds in this position and release slowly.
Balasana or child pose –It is one of the easiest Yoga asanas, gives a gentle stretch on the lower back, and aids digestion.
Sit on your heels with your knees a few inches apart.
Start bending forward and lowering your forehead to the mat. Press your chest on top of the thighs.
Slowly stretch your arms forward, touching the front of the mat in front of the head.
Hold for 10–20 seconds in this position. Slowly come up, uncurl your spine and relax.
Setu Bandhashana or bridge pose –This pose resembles a bridge; hence it got this name (setu means bridge). This pose you do by lying on your back with your spine beautifully curved as described below:
Lie down on your back with your knees bent and keep your feet hip-width apart.
Press your heels down into the mat and lift the tailbone so that the hips and lower back are off the mat.
Reach the hands under the hips and, if possible, place your fingers together. Use your abdominal muscles to hold the bottom. Hold this position for a few seconds.
Slowly release the fingers and lower the tailbone back down as you release this pose.
Vrikshasana or tree pose –This is one of the first standing balancing poses or asanas taught to beginners. It replicates a steady stance of a tree as described below:
Stand straight with your arms by your side. Bend the left knee and swing it out to the side.
Rest the bottom of the left foot on the inside of the right thigh (below the knee for beginners).
Keep the hands pressed together in a ‘namaste’ mudra in front of your chest, or you can hold onto a chair or wall to help with balance. Hold for a few seconds in this posture.
Repeat the same steps with the opposite leg.
These 5 simple Yoga poses or asanas have scientifically proven benefits in managing blood sugars and reducing diabetes-related complications. Include Yoga along with your daily walk to get better control over diabetes!
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