The holistic science of Yoga is the best lifestyle ever designed and is very effective in managing stress disorders and lifestyle disorders like diabetes. Modern research has focused on psycho-physiological beneficial effects of yoga which is more than a mere physical exercise (Innes and Vincent, 2007).
It has been reported that even a short lifestyle modification and stress management education program based on yoga reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus (DM) within a period of 9 days (Bijlani, 2005) while a systematic review of 32 articles published between 1980 and 2007 found that yoga interventions are effective in reducing body weight, blood pressure, glucose level and high cholesterol (Yang 2007).
Studies have shown that central nervous system processing also gets affected in diabetes mellitus and that a comprehensive six-week yoga therapy program produces a significant shortening in auditory reaction time in diabetic patients (Madanmohan, 1984; Madanmohan, 2012). It has also been reported that yoga improves nerve conduction and biochemical profile in patients of diabetes mellitus.
Yogic practices may have a role in prevention and management of diabetes and in co-morbid conditions like hypertension and dyslipidemia. Long-term yoga practice is associated with increased insulin sensitivity and attenuation of negative relationship between body weight or waist circumference and insulin sensitivity (Chaya, 2008).
With no appreciable side effects and multiple collateral benefits, yoga is safe, simple to learn and can be practiced by even ill, elderly or disabled individuals. Being safe, simple and economical therapy, it should be considered as a beneficial adjuvant for Diabetes patients.
A comprehensive review by Innes and Vincent (2007) found beneficial changes in several risk indices, including glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, lipid profile, anthropometric characteristics, blood pressure, oxidative stress, coagulation profiles, sympathetic activation and pulmonary function, as well as improvement in specific clinical outcomes. They suggested that yoga may improve risk profiles in adults with type 2 DM and may have promise for the prevention and management of cardiovascular complications in this population.
Yoga has a great potential in preventing and managing chronic diseases and Yogic lifestyle can make an appreciable contribution to improvement of health of our masses. Yoga has the potential to prevent progression of the disease and if started early, maybe even effect a cure (Bhavanani, 2013).
Basic Yogic principles that are used in management of DM include:
- Psychological reconditioning and development of appropriate attitudes such as yama-niyama, chaturbhavana, pratipaksha bhavanam etc.
- Stress management through counseling, jathis (loosening techniques), asanas (postures), Kriyas (systematic rational breath-body coordination movements) and pranayama (breath-energy harmonizing techniques).
- Helping utilizing the glucose better through physical activity such as surya namaskar, asanas, kriyas, pranayama etc.
- Relaxation, visualization and contemplative practices to induce a sense of inner calmness and wellbeing.
Yoga Therapy For Diabetes
Yoga can play a major role in the prevention and control of diabetes mellitus that is turning out to be one of the major killers of the modern world. Yoga is of special value in those suffering from Type-II or Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes as it helps to sensitize the body cells to the insulin and helps the body fight the hyperglycemic state in a more effective manner. The healthy exercise and weight loss produced by Yoga as well as the dietary aspects when followed religiously and regularly can help prevent and control this disorder to a great extent.
It is important to use up the excess blood sugar by regular exercise. Walk whenever possible and skipping or swimming are good adjuvant to Yoga therapy.
Regular small meals with complex carbohydrates.
Avoid refined foodstuffs and junk foods.
Take lots of green vegetable salads, bitter gourd and Neem.
Maintain good hydration.
Performance of three or six rounds of the Suryanamaskar helps to utilize the excess glucose and also to help speed up metabolism and weight loss.
- Twisting poses
¨ Standing: Trikona Asana, Ardha Kati Chakrasana
¨ Sitting: Vakrasana, Ardha Matsyendra Asana, Bharatwaja Asana, Shashanga Asana
¨ Reclining: Jatara Parivartan Asana
- Abdominal pressure poses
¨ Sitting: Utkat Asana, Janu Sirasa Asana, Paschimottana Asana, Nava Asana, Yoga Mudra Asana, Stambam Asana and Mayura Asana.
¨ Reclining: Pavana Mukta Asana, Dhanura Asana, Bhujanga Asana, Shalaba Asana, Nouka Asana
- Topsy turvy
Sarvanga Asana, Janu Sirasa In Sarvanga Asana, Karna Pida Asana and Hala Asana
Vibhaga and Pranava Pranayamas with special emphasis on Adam Pranayama and AAA sound
Bhastrika Pranayama to help utilize the blood glucose better
Savitri Pranayama, Chandra Anuloma Pranayama, Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama for stress reduction
Kunjal, Nauli, Kapalabhati, Agnisara, Shanka Prakshalana
Mudras and Bandhas
Viparita Karani and Maha Mudra
Uddiyana, Moola and Jalandhara Bandhas
Shava Asana, Makara Asana, Kaya Kriya and Yoga Nidra
Mandala Dharana on all Chakras with emphasis on Manipura Chakra and the sound of RAM (RUNG)
Om Japa, Ajapa Japa, Prana Darshana and Pranava Dhyana
(Author is Chairman of the International Centre for Yoga Education and Research at Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry. Views expressed are personal. Readers are advised to practice Asanas suggested in the above article under supervision of a Yogacharya.)