An estimated 18 million Americans have diabetes, making it one of the most serious conditions affecting the nation’s health. But as prevalent as diabetes is, it is also preventable and reversible with the proper lifestyle behaviors.
Yoga, with its far-reaching physical and lifestyle benefits, can help improve non-insulin dependent diabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
Here is what you need to know about yoga and diabetes.
Two studies conducted in India showed that performing yoga postures had a beneficial effect on diabetes. The effects seen were an improvement in insulin sensitivity, a decrease in fasting glucose levels, and a significant decrease in waist-hip ratio.
Exercise has long been known to have a positive effect on diabetes. Yoga is both a physical workout with a cardiovascular and strength-training component and a lifestyle that heightens awareness of how daily actions such as nutrition, exercise and stress contribute to or take away from one’s sense of wellness.
Researchers believe that it is the cumulative effects of yoga’s many benefits that support diabetes prevention or the successful management of the disease.
While there are numerous beneficial yoga postures for diabetics, here are a few surefire bets to help balance the endocrine system, stimulate the cardiovascular system and relax the nervous system:
Sun Salution (Surya Namaskar): This traditional series of postures is a practice in and of itself. Its aerobic and strength-conditioning qualities can help fire up the metabolism and build lean and strong muscles, both of which are necessary for optimal health. The focused breath work also helps keep the mind steady and focused. Start by practicing a minimum of three sun salutations every morning, gradually working your way up to performing as many as 10 rounds.
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana): This heart-opening posture strengthens leg muscles while also toning the abdominal muscles. This posture should also be performed in its revolved or counter pose, in order to further enhance its effects. Triangle pose should be held for a minimum of five breaths on each side.
If you are diabetic and interested in starting a yoga practice, get the okay from your primary care doctor first. And like with any new discipline, start slow, work with a qualified instructor and begin each class with an open and willing mind.