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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Yoga and Diabetes- An Alternate Therapy

It is rightly said that, understanding is the first step towards change. In order to follow the ways to attain good health, understanding them is the first step. Good health is acquired when one follows a healthy diet, regular exercise, positive thinking, unhurried pace of living, and a sublime faith in the divine. Disease manifests in the body when nature's health laws are transgressed.

Yogic discipline with its asanas, pranayama, and meditation is a way to good health. This ancient therapy helps in treating diseases, which eventually improves personal efficiency and assists in achieving mental peace. When yoga becomes a lifestyle, it effects a radical transformation in an individual. Any health conscious person would turn to yoga and reap the benefits it offers.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition when the pancreas in the human body fails to produce insulin. Incidentally, insulin is the hormone that converts the sugar in the food into energy. Insufficient secretion of insulin by pancreas results in excess glucose level in the bloodstream, resulting in diabetes. The blood glucose is required to be used up to provide energy and fuel to the body, in order to do its work. If the level of glucose is high, it eventually affects the body parts.

A person suffering from diabetes portrays symptoms, which could be fatigue, hazy vision, excessive thirst, weight loss and an increase in appetite.

Causes of Diabetes
  • Overweight
  • Stress
  • Genetic factors
  • Lack of exercise
Food or diet plays a significant role in the life of a diabetic. Selective, healthy food with adequate intake of fruits and vegetables along with regular exercise helps to keep diabetes in control.

Yoga to the Rescue

Yoga provides an alternate source of healing for diabetes. Yoga helps to strengthen the immune system, improves blood circulation and the flow of vital energy or prana to the internal organs of the body. The secretion of stress hormones, due to faulty diet, hectic lifestyle or wrong thinking is controlled by the practice of yoga.

Effect of asanas on blood sugar level

Yogic exercises cause the muscles to absorb the excess glucose in the blood, thereby reducing the blood sugar level. They help the pancreas and liver to function effectively, which regulates the blood sugar levels. Asanas help in rejuvenating the pancreatic cells, thereby assisting insulin secretion. The muscular movements also help in bringing down the blood sugar levels. Asanas induce relaxation, which also plays a key role in the healthy functioning of the internal organs of the body.

Yogic exercises are perhaps the only exercises that bring us close to the inner being or the soul, which is essentially spiritual in nature. Practitioners of yoga, pranayama and meditation, usually find a shift in their attitude towards life. They radiate good health and positive energy.

A profound understanding of yoga enables introspection. When attention is turned inwards, it effects a radical change in our beings, manifest as inward balance and poise.As peace fills our being, the body begins to function in harmony, which is a sign of good health.

The results of yogasanas are best when they are executed without exertion, in a non-striving manner. Ideally, the movements should be fluid and harmonious. The ease, with which yoga must be practiced, is perhaps best expressed by Deepak Chopra, a renowned leader in the field of mind-body , who has said,
  • Grass doesn't try to grow, it just grows.

  • Fishes don't try to swim, they just swim.

  • Flowers don't try to bloom, they simply bloom.

  • Birds don't try to fly, they simply fly.
The natural poses assumed in yoga practice bring peace to the mind of the practitioner. Asanas can be practiced with any classical music played at the background. They make the practice enjoyable. It is important to be conscious of the movements and understand the limits of ones own flexibility. Straining beyond ones own means is certainly not recommended.

Asanas for diabetes


Paschimotasana is a sitting asana also referred to as the 'forward seated bend'. This asana is good for those suffering from diabetes. It is known to stimulate the functioning of the internal organs like liver, pancreas and kidney.

  1. Sit on a yoga mat in a comfortable position with legs outstretched in front.

  2. Bend your head to touch your knees and exhale completely.

  3. Grasp the toes with your fingers. Maintain this position for a few breaths and inhale when you return to the original position.

  4. Repeat this asana 2-3 times.
Mayurasana-The peacock pose

This asana tones up the internal organs like the liver, pancreas and kidney. It also helps to cure stomach disorders, which improves digestion.

  1. Lie on your abdomen.

  2. With the support of the palms on the floor, lift the whole body above the ground. The body remains parallel to the ground

This asana may appear daunting to a beginner, but with guidance from a yoga expert and regular practice, the asana becomes child's play.

Shalabhasana- The Locust

This asana helps to cure acidity. It is also known to relieve nervous tension and indigestion.

  1. Lie on the floor with the abdomen touching the mat.

  2. Rest your chin on the floor with arms at the sides. The heels and toes must be held together.

  3. Inhale and lift both the legs above the floor. While lifting the legs, pressure must be applied on the fists.

  4. Maintain this position for a few seconds and come back to the original position.

  5. Relax and feel the stretch on the muscles of the back.

Always use a yoga mat for sitting postures.

Yogic Breathing for Diabetes

All life is energy or prana, which descends into the human body in a rhythm. It is this life force that makes our heart beat and energizes the various systems and organs of our body.

Through pranayama, this prana can be controlled. The vital force and life currents within the body are controlled through pranayama. This flow of energy helps to do away with the diseases and toxins in the body.

Bahya Pranayama or External Kumbakha

Kumbakha is the retention of breath. In this pranayama, the breath is retained outside for a longer duration than inhalation and exhalation. The ratio of inhalation, exhalation and retention is 3: 6:12

  1. Sit in a cross-legged position.

  2. Inhale through the left nostril, by closing the right to the count of 3.

  3. Immediately exhale through the right nostril to the count of 6.

  4. Retain the breath outside or in other words remain breathless to the count of 12.

  5. Repeat the pranayama with the same count from the right nostril.
Period of Meditation

  1. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes.

  2. Mentally chant 'Om' and concentrate on the sound. Thoughts would rush in endlessly, but attention should be focused on the chant.

  3. Do this till a feeling of peace envelopes you.

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