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Yoga for Diabetics

Posted on October 5, 2018 | No Comments on Yoga for Diabetics

What is yoga? What do you know about it? I was recently asked these questions and it took me a while, actually quite a long while before I managed to answer based on my simple understanding of what yoga is.

Well, who could blame me? My understanding of yoga, which perhaps many of us share, is based on what we often see portrayed by the media:

  • young, able-bodied, good-looking people contorting their bodies in various yoga poses in the attempt to achieve wellness;
  • rich middle-aged women chanting “om” in a very posh spa or a gym in a hotel; or
  • an old, long-haired, long-bearded man dressed in monk’s robes meditating in some hidden caves or on top of a mountain.

Yoga seems a little queer if you think of the “old-man-on-a-mountain-meditating” scenario, quite expensive if you think of the “middle-aged-women-chanting-om-in-a-hotel”, and a little complicated if it’s the contortion of the body, with all the twisting and the bending.

But yoga, as I came to know, is more than what my feeble understanding of the practice is. Karl Andersson, a Danish monk known as Dada Unmantrananda, explained to me that yoga goes beyondthe exercise and the meditation. “It’s a philosophy more than anything else,” he says.

Mr. Andersson, who prefers to be called Dada (a Sanskrit name which means elder brother), explains that although it is not wrong to see yoga as a form of exercise or a form of meditation, people should understand that yoga is something that they can practice in their daily lives. Dada, who teaches and practices a kind of yoga called Ananda Marga, believes that yoga should incorporat the various disciplines of yoga – from meditation to exercise, to diet and lifestyle, nd the spiritual aspect – into a comprehensive package that people could apply in their daily lives.

What Dada is saying is that you do not have to be a mystical figure or a very spiritual person to do yoga.”You can be a normal person doing extraordinary things to heal yourself,” he says. He recounts that they never had a student of yoga who did not have tremendous results. Yoga practitioners have reported one benefit or another from weight loss, clarity of mind, loss of sleeplessness, relief from symptoms of some diseases, a general feeling of well-being and relief from anxiety and stress.

Yoga and stress relief
Stress has been shown to increase blood sugar levels and increase the odds of developing certain complications like heart disease among people with diabetes. The ancient and efficient technique provided by yoga guarantees a complete detoxification of the body, including toxins that cause stress.

Because yoga involves a lot stretching and bending, the body is ensured that it is getting the optimum quantity of blood supply that it needs.This results to all the toxins getting booted out of your body and certain undesired processes such as aging (which causes great stress to some) are considerably delayed.
Forward bending poses as well as nurturing poses like child, supine bound angle, knee down twist and half pyramid are said to have a calming effect on the body.Yoga relaxation also releases muscle tension and can help reduce the harmful effects of physical and mental stress, and contribute to a general feeling of well-being.

Yoga and meditation have also been proven to lower cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is the hormone produced by the stress response. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol have been shown to play a role in the development of blood sugar problems, insulin resistance and diabetes. Practicing yoga and meditation, both of which have been shown to dramatically lower cortisol levels in the body, can significantly reduce stress and reduce your chances of having diabetes and diabetes complications as well.

The yoga way to health
Yoga practitioners believe that a unification of the body, mind and spirit can be acquired by practicing the yoga exercises and techniques. This unification creates harmony and synchronization between body and mind, and helps strengthen one’s meditation and emotional systems.

For example, if you need to lose extra weight, yoga can help strengthen your concentration skills and willpower to help you stay on your weight-loss program or have the will to resist that extra serving of rice or that tasty dessert.

As a form of exercise, yoga has become popular in recent years because of the many reported health benefits that come with its practice. Yoga exercises improve posture and flexibility by gently toning and shaping the body. Most yoga exercises also improve blood circulation especially to the extremities while also keeping the blood vessel elastic. Yoga poses that gently press the abdominal area stimulate the body’s glands and organs and brings positive benefits for the digestive, endocrine and reproductive systems.

It has also been shown in several studies that yoga can help treat pulse rate decreases, respiratory and blood pressure dysfunctions, stabilize the nervous system equilibrium, increase joint range of motions, endurance level, energy level, immunity to diseases and cardiovascular efficiency. Likewise, yoga has been reported to improve eye-handcoordination, reaction time, dexterity skills, depth perception and sleep.

For the psychological aspect, believers of the yoga philosophy points that it can improve self-acceptance and awareness, social skills and well-being, as well as improve concentration, memory, attention, mood, and learning efficiency.

Significant biochemical benefits of yoga have also been reported and studied scientifically including substantial decreases in blood glucose or blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and sodium; as well as significant increases of vitamin C, total serum protein, hemoglobin, etc.

All these health benefits has something to do with yoga being one of the few exercise techniques that help “massage” all the internal organs and glands in the body. This stimulating and massaging of the internal organs have been proven to prevent and help treat many diseases, including diabetes.

Yoga therapy for diabetes
Yes, yoga can help treat diabetes.And because diabetes is a disease that can be prevented and treated through diet, exercise and lifestyle changes, doin yoga can definitely help prevent or treat this chronic epidemic.

Yoga’s effectiveness in preventing and treating diabetes can be attributed to its emphasis on a healthy diet and lifestyle and largely because of its ability to stimulate the nervous and circulatory systems, and reduce stress.

Yoga as a form of exercise can stimulate the insulin producing cells in the pancreas, thereby increasing insulin sensitivity and effectively lowering blood sugar, just as much as regular aerobic exercise does. As a lifestyle, yoga practices like meditation and the yoga diet (which for most yoga practitioners means raw vegetables), have been proven to help reduce weight, improve blood sugar control, and help lower the dosage of diabetic medications.A yogic diet is often high in fiber and includes whole grains, legumes and vegetables that can help lose excess weight and stabilize blood sugar levels among diabetics.

“Yoga basically believes that you can cure yourself, the body is a self-healing mechanism. If you give it the right environment, the right nutrition, and the right rest, it actually improves on itself,” says Dada. Adhering therefore to a yogic treatment that uses not only the yoga exercises but also incorporates a yogic diet (vegetarian and alkaline diet), meditation, adherence to medication, lifestyle modification, even the proper use of the elements (sun, air, water, earth, etc) in the natural treatment process of the body, can definitely help those with diabetes.
Several studies have even identified specific yoga poses for the control of diabetes. Yoga exercises for diabetics, according to Dada, are very organ-oriented, mainly focusing on the stomach area.

For diabetics, Dada recommends that they do the specific exercises 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night everyday for six months to achieve good control of their diabetes.

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