How to Manage Diabetes With Yoga: For Yoga Teachers & Practitioners
We all know that Diabetes has become more of an issue nowadays. More and more people suffer from it and this is closely related to bad lifestyle choices, too little exercise and unhealthy diet. But what is diabetes actually? Diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body destroys its own beta-cells. These beta-cells are responsible to produce insulin in the pancreas in order to break down glucose or the sugar in our food. There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. While type 1 does not necessarily come from a certain reason and arises in early childhood, type 2 is closely linked to and caused by eating too oily, sugar-rich and processed fast foods.
Usually people who suffer from type 1 require an insulin pump or injections to make sure that the sugar level sinks. Type 2 diabetics can control their blood sugar by diet (or/and pills) only. No matter which type of diabetes your student or friend has: yoga has been scientifically proven to naturally manage a diabetics health, blood sugar levels and mental well-being. While particular asana (postures, movements an stretching) encourage a good blood circulation to all organs, they also have a positive effect on brain, digestive system and eye sight.
Below we have listed the 3 most important parts of yoga to manage diabetes. Always make sure that the diabetic measures his/her blood sugar level before beginning a class or sequence. It’ s necessary to have a blood sugar level of at least 150-180 before starting. There should be some bananas or orange juice within reaching distance in case of a quick low.
Vrkshasana, Dhanurasana, Paschimottanasana, Mandukasana, Surya Namaskar and Natarajasana are the most effective and balancing asanas when working with a diebetic. While Surya Namaskar improves the overall energy level and fitness, Vrkshasana and Natarajasana implement a sense of physical balance and grounding which is often missing. Dhanurasana, Mandukasana and Paschimottanasana put a slight pressure on the pancreas and improve the digestive system and blood flow to the pancreas.
Nadi Shodan or Anulom Velom along with Brahmari Pranayam are very beneficial pranayama techniques when it comes to diabetes as they provide mental relaxation and rejuvenation of cells and tissues. Kapalabhati should be avoided completely for beginners.
According to Yoga, a vegetarian diet rich in grains, fresh fruits, dairy and slightly cooked vegetables nourishes body and mind and eliminates toxins. Ayurveda suggests to eat chickpeas as they naturally control the blood sugar levels. There is a special ayurvedic herbal medicine called Ashwanganda which is also used for diabetics. Ashwanganda is useful in case of nervosity and stress.