People come to yoga for a variety of reasons, whether it is optimizing strength and balance, developing the mind-body connection, or alleviating common ailments. And with type 2 diabetes becoming more and more prevalent in the United States, many are approaching yoga as part of a holistic approach to managing their condition.
There is some evidence to suggest that yoga has a positive impact in helping to manage symptoms of diabetes. And certainly, as a major contributor leading many to healthier lifestyles, it is a worthy pursuit.
If you are living with diabetes and would like to explore yoga to help you manage it, a good place to start is a beginners’ online yoga class that will teach you some basic poses you can practice at home.
And if you are looking for some poses that can be particularly helpful for diabetes, here are a few to try out.
Downward facing dog pose
One of the most basic yoga poses, and one that you will likely practice as part of any class, downward facing dog is great for increasing your circulation and, thus, relieving symptoms related to poor blood flow. It also stimulates the pancreas and promotes regular digestion
It is a fairly simple pose to perform, and if you’ve got your yoga mat ready, you can try it out. Make sure to stay relaxed as you perform it.
Here is how it’s done
1. Start on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
2. Push backward, raising your hips, so that your legs are straight. You should be in an inverted V shape.
3. Move your chest inward toward your knees and hold the position for 30 seconds
Seated forward bend
Another easy pose to perform, the forward seated bend is beneficial for controlling diabetes because it massages and stimulates the internal organs, including the pancreas.
To perform the pose:
1. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you and your toes pointed upward.
2. Raise your arms and bend forward, with your legs and buttocks remaining firmly on the ground.
3. Bend at the hips as far as you can, and if possible, grasp your feet. Stay in this pose for a total of one to three minutes.
In addition to benefits related to internal functioning, the seated forward bend is beneficial for stress reduction, which can be a worthwhile goal to include in your routine. If you are interested incorporating some additional poses for this purpose, you might try a course for stress reduction.
A common pose that is great for strengthening the spine and promoting back health, bow pose is also recommended for diabetes because it helps to regulate the pancreas. If you additionally have any issues with your back or neck, you will definitely want to try to incorporate this pose, and you might also explore a yoga course for alleviating back and neck pain.
Here is the technique:
1. Start in a prone position (i.e. lying chest down) and bend your knees.
2. Reach behind you to grasp your ankles as you bend
3. Form an arch by raising your legs, chest and head.
4. Breathe in and hold the position for up to ten seconds.
The shoulder stand is a more difficult position than others on this list, but it has a number of benefits that can be helpful for your diabetes management, if you are comfortable performing it. Namely, it stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands, which are responsible for regulating your metabolism. In addition, it is helpful for blood circulation and, to top it off, stress reduction.
Don’t try this pose if you have suffered from a neck injury or if you are suffering from high blood pressure. It could also be beneficial to seek additional guidance on getting this pose right. A good place to start might be a course that helps you increase your knowledge, confidence, and comfort in performing yoga poses.
To do the shoulder stand:
1. lie on your back, fully stretched and raise your legs together
2. Lift with your abdominal muscles and raise your hips and trunk until your feet touch the ground behind your head.
3. With your elbows resting on the ground, support your back with your hands
4. Extend your legs toward the ceiling.
You will come out of the pose by slowly lowering your legs back down.
Big toe pose
The big toe pose is straightforward, and typically taught as part of a beginning yoga class. Particularly for diabetes control, it is beneficial because it reduces bloating and improves circulation. Here are the steps:
1. Stand with your feet at least six inches apart and parallel.
2. Keep your legs straight as you bend at the hips in a fluid, steady motion.
3. Bend until your head is as close to touching your knee as possible and grasp your big toes on each foot.
4. Hold for a few seconds and then lift your torso. You can repeat this several times.
Many who have tried yoga as a part of managing diabetes will attest to its benefits. It has broad application, from helping with pancreatic and circulatory functioning to reducing stress and assisting with weight loss. Ultimately, it makes sense as a part of a holistic plan to control the disease and help you feel better.
Make sure that you are taking other steps in managing diabetes, including following the advice of your physician and incorporating diet and exercise. And try out some of the resources suggested here to start your yoga practice off right. It’s likely you will find that a daily yoga routine is something you look forward to and something that motivates you to maintain a healthy lifestyle.