Practising yoga consistently can be extremely rewarding. Yoga can be practised in various forms such as pranayama or breathing exercises, meditation, and yogasanas or yoga postures. Furthermore, yoga can be practised by anyone – young or elderly, athlete or a normal person—yoga can be suitably modified to match everyone’s need. While yoga can improve your physical and mental fitness significantly, research studies are being conducted to study the effectiveness of yoga in preventing and/or treating various physical and psychological disorders. In this research article, we will see whether yoga can lower blood sugar level in diabetic people.
Let us first understand what is diabetes. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, diabetes is a disease affecting “the way the body uses food for energy and growth”. The food we eat is broken down into glucose, and our body needs the hormone insulin to use glucose. NCCIH categorises diabetes in three different types – type 1, type 2, and gestational. In the first type, people hardly produce any insulin, and not many people suffer from this type of diabetes. In type 2, people do not properly respond to insulin produced by their bodies. This is the most common type of diabetes. Gestational diabetes affects pregnant women, which normally goes away after child birth. However, risk of mothers developing diabetes in later stages of life remains.
Since type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, we will see what research says about impact of yoga on controlling this type of diabetes. A research article published in 2007 in the Journal of The Association of Physicians in India states that yoga has a positive impact on lowering blood glucose levels. In this research, 108 patients with type 2 diabetes were studied for a period of six months. The article states that patients showed a significant improvement with a considerable fall in the fasting and post-prandial blood sugar levels. Additionally, the research study stated that was a reduction in drug requirement, and a significant decrease in the body fat and increase in the lean body mass. In the study, patients practised various asanas such as Dhanurasana, Ardhamatsayendrasana, Halasana, Vajrasana, Yogamudra, Shalabasana, Naukasana, and Bhujangasana. The research article states that Dhanurasana and Ardhamastsayendrasana were the effective asanas, whereas Yogamudra and Shalabasana worsened the diabetic status. Participants practised yoga postures for 45 minutes every day during the research period. Relaxation practices such as Shavasana and Makrasana were also included.
In another research article published in 2011 in US-based The Journal of Clinical and Applied Research and Education, Diabetes Care, the research study concluded that “yoga can be used as an effective therapy in reducing oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes”. It further stated that yoga along with standard care helps in reducing body-mass index and improving glycemic control in type 2 diabetic patients.
As seen above, some studies have started to reveal positive impact of yoga on controlling or reducing blood sugar level in type 2 diabetic patients. In addition, there are research studies which suggest that yoga can be used as an effective means to prevent diabetes. We recommend that you include yoga in your day-to-day lives and benefit the most from it. However, if you are diabetic or you suffer from any other physical or psychological disorder, be sure to seek medical advice first before deciding on practising yoga. Proceed with practising yoga if and only if your physician permits. Additionally, practise yoga only under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher.
Tuomilehto, Jaakko, et al. “Prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus by changes in lifestyle among subjects with impaired glucose tolerance.” New England Journal of Medicine 344.18 (2001): 1343-1350.
Sahay, B. K. “Role of yoga in diabetes.” JAPI 55 (2007): 121-126.
Hegde, Shreelaxmi V., et al. “Effect of 3-Month Yoga on Oxidative Stress in Type 2 Diabetes With or Without Complications A controlled clinical trial.”Diabetes care 34.10 (2011): 2208-2210.
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