Yoga is one of the most popular exercise forms in the world, and it can have some amazing benefits when practised regularly by people with diabetes. Whether you’re just getting started with yoga or you already practice it every day, this post will tell you all about how yoga can help regulate your blood sugar levels and improve your heart health, as well as give you practical poses to try to increase flexibility and improve your ability to breathe deeply.
1) Strengthens muscles
Yoga strengthens muscles and also improves blood circulation, which helps bring oxygen and glucose to your cells. Yoga can also help reduce stress, which is known to increase insulin resistance. When you are more mindful, you are better able to make healthy choices. Mindfulness has been shown in studies to decrease the body’s inflammatory response, which may play a role in diabetes prevention.
2) Improves balance
Yoga has a number of benefits that may be overlooked, including improving balance. Yoga can help with balance by strengthening the muscles in your feet, ankles, and legs, says Alisa Ross, a registered dietician and certified yoga teacher. And it’s easy to see why. A roundhouse or sidekick requires strong hips and leg muscles while balancing on one leg. The best way to do this is by practising yoga poses like standing balancing postures called urdhva mukha svanasana (standing head-to-knee pose) or Ardha chandrasana (half moon pose), says Ross.
3) Keeps metabolism high
Yoga is a great way to keep the metabolism high and provide the body with much-needed rest. This helps you get rid of excess fat, which has been linked to diabetes. The poses in All forms of yoga are designed to release tension from the body, which can help with blood flow, anxiety, and stress levels. Yoga also promotes flexibility through stretching and focuses on strengthening the core, which will help you maintain your balance better.
4) Prevents cardiovascular disease
But before you write off yoga as an activity that’s not good enough, it might be time to reconsider and get a little creative. There are a number of benefits that come with practising yoga. This includes improved cardiovascular health, lowered blood pressure, and more natural breathing patterns. In addition, there are also specific poses that can improve both circulation and the body’s ability to fight infection. Finally, yoga is often used in therapy programs because it provides stress relief while also encouraging mindfulness. So what’s stopping you?
5) Calms the mind
Yoga is an ancient practice that has a number of different benefits, but it’s particularly good at calming the mind. Studies show that a yoga session can help reduce stress and anxiety. It has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels. For people living with diabetes, this is especially important since high blood sugar levels can lead to health problems like heart disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage in the feet.
6) Encourages weight loss
One of the most difficult aspects of diabetes is the inability to get enough exercise. And, if you’re trying to lose weight and maintain your blood sugar levels, it can seem even more challenging. However, yoga can help in this area by providing a low-impact workout with some amazing benefits. For example, it boosts your metabolism and strengthens your immune system. As an added bonus, it’s also proven to help prevent diabetes from developing and manage existing symptoms.
7) Regulates blood pressure
A study in the journal Hypertension found that when adults with diabetes did yoga twice a week, they had lower blood pressure and fewer complications like eye and kidney disease. Plus, according to a study published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, yoga may help lower blood sugar levels, reduce depression and anxiety levels, and improve quality of life.
8) Improves posture
Yoga improves posture and can be practised at any level. It is a gentle, gradual exercise that is made up of stretching and breathing. When you are practising yoga, the benefits will actually be felt in your posture. Being aware of how you hold your body through the poses will lead to better awareness in your daily life as well.
5 Practical Yoga Poses to get you started
1. Cat and Cow (Marjariasana)
Begin on all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders, knees under your hips, and back straight. Inhale as you round your spine towards the ceiling, lifting your head and chest up as you press the tops of your feet down. Exhale as you round towards the floor, dropping your head and curling inwards as you tuck in your tailbone. Repeat three times, then switch directions.
2. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Stand tall with feet together and arms at the side or overhead on a chair or countertop if necessary. Lift up out of the hip sockets by pressing into the heels while engaging core muscles. Hold this position for five deep breaths before releasing and repeating.
3. Legs up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This is great when you need some extra circulation, want to reduce menstrual cramps, or just want a little bit of your time! Find a flat wall that’s about two-three feet taller than you. Lay face down with your legs extended behind you and rest your toes against the wall. Bring either one arm overhead with palms facing forward or bring both arms on either side of your head, parallel to the ground. Stay here for five minutes as many days per week as possible!
4. Tree Pose (Vrkshasana)
To start this pose, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and place the sole of one foot against the inner thigh of the other leg. Pressing firmly through your grounded foot and heel, lean forward until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings and calf muscles. Spread your fingers wide, reaching them towards either end of the line from your toes to your shin. Shift weight between the left and right foot as needed until the balance is established. Hold for 10-30 seconds before switching sides.
5. One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Start on your hands and knees with your shins stacked over each other. Reach your right hand forward to touch the outside of your left foot or vice versa, depending on which side feels more comfortable. Keep the torso upright and the back straight so the shoulders are directly over the wrists and the hips are directly over the knees. Gently lower the pelvis towards the ground, keeping the front knee bent at 90 degrees so it doesn’t shoot too far ahead of the front ankle, as well as preventing hunching in the upper body. Allow your forehead to gently touch the mat while breathing deeply in this position for 8-10 breaths before returning to the starting position.
As you can see, there are many benefits that come with practising yoga as a diabetic. The good news is that it’s never too late to start. With the right resources, you can get started today!