By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Do Chair Yoga for diabetes classes work? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes is quickly reaching epidemic levels. Some schools of thought estimate, 1 out of 3 Americans will have the disease at some time in their lives; and it will shorten their life spans by 10 to 15 years. Treatment for diabetes consists of three major components: diet, exercise, and medication. Proper diet and exercise are crucial for prevention and management, but chronic complications can inhibit physical activity.
Studies have confirmed the effectiveness of Yoga in the fight against diabetes, but not everyone can participate in traditional classes. Chair Yoga, a gentle practice using chairs for sitting or support, is gaining popularity with disabled and elderly participants – even those in wheel chairs. Offered in studios, senior centers, gated communities, and other recreation centers, this alternative provides the benefits of Yoga without the risky physical challenges.
In Chair Yoga for diabetes classes, emphasis is placed on poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. Due to the fact that diabetics often have numbness or fatigue that affects balance or makes standing exercises risky, Chair Yoga is a very safe way to maintain health and prevent injuries.
Participants not only experience a state of well-being and improved mood, but they also target specific problems caused by the illness. While these mechanisms are still not completely understood, researchers have speculated that Yoga helps diabetics in the following ways.
Yoga for Diabetes Benefits
• Excess weight complicates diabetes, and Yoga helps to keep the pounds in check.
• By lowering stress, Yoga reduces the levels of cortisol, adrenaline, and glucagons in the body, which stabilizes insulin production.
• Muscle relaxation improves circulation – a problem for many diabetics – and enables the muscles to increase their uptake of insulin, reducing blood sugar levels.
• Poor circulation is common in diabetes; and Yoga pumps fresh oxygen into the blood stream, oxygenating the blood flow and cleansing the lymph system.
• Yoga postures that stretch or massage the pancreas may enable it to do its job more effectively.
• Yoga lowers blood pressure and cholesterol – two factors that make the treatment of diabetes more difficult.
Although diabetes varies in severity, many sufferers have ailments that limit their social and physical activities. Others are looking for ways to maintain good health and lessen the effects of the disease. Chair Yoga classes can become a place to share friendship and support, as well as to learn new ways of coping with a chronic illness. At the same time, Chair Yoga students are likely to practice posturing, exercises, breathing techniques and what they learn about a healthy Yogic lifestyle at home.
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