GNC Expert, Founder of the “Yoga Strength”
Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with 17 years of experience
B.Pharm, MSc. Public Health and Health Economics
Regularly practising yoga in addition to eating healthily and other healthy lifestyle habits can help diabetics and pre-diabetics manage their blood sugar levels.
The best yoga for beginners with diabetes includes postures and breathing exercises that are designed specifically to target and stimulate the pancreas. By improving blood flow to the pancreas, yoga postures for diabetes rejuvenate the organ’s cells and improve its ability to produce insulin for the body.
How can yoga benefit people with diabetes?
Regular yoga training helps in improving mental and physical health. Practising the various yoga asanas helps the body’s endocrine system and each organ at the cellular level. In fact, yoga postures that help in relaxation, stretch the pancreas. This can stimulate the production of insulin-producing beta cells and also promote balanced weight and mental attitude.
Yoga, walking, strength training – whichever you prefer, exercising is a must for people with diabetes
Yoga poses for diabetes
Nishrin Parikh, GNC Expert, Founder of the “Yoga Strength” and the oldest female to contest the Asian Bodybuilding Championships, explains four yoga poses that have been found to be especially beneficial for diabetics:
Pose #1: Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose
Bhujangasana is particularly beneficial for people with diabetes and one of the primary poses for diabetes.
Benefits of Bhujangasana:
- Increases flexibility
- Improves respiratory and digestive processes
- Strengthens the back muscles
- Eases the strain and pain after long working hours
How to do Bhujangasana:
- To start the pose, lie on your stomach and place your forehead on the floor.
- You can have your feet together, or hip-width apart. Let the tops of your feet press against the floor.
- With your hands towards your side, keep your elbows close to your body.
- Raise your head and start lifting your head and chest off the floor. Curve the shoulder muscles, let them come as close to each other as possible. This is the final stage of the asana.
- Maintain the final stage of the pose to your capacity of 3 to 5 breaths.
- While exhaling, lower yourself back to the ground.
- Release the asana while relaxing the muscles of the back. Let the upper portions of abdomens, the ribs, chest and shoulders come down in that order.
Recommended repetitions for Bhujangasana:
Repeat the asana for 3 to 5 times in one sitting.
Things to keep in mind while doing Bhujangasana:
- While performing this asana or while maintaining the final posture, people tend to take the support of the hands or to hold their breath. Both of which should be avoided.
- Continue breathing normally and perform the asana on the strength of the muscles of back, neck and shoulders.
- Avoid raising the body rapidly or forcibly. Go slow.
- Take a conscious effort to stop yourself from raising the pupils or eyebrows as doing this might strain your eyes.
Who should avoid doing Bhujangasana:
Expecting mothers as it involves movements which compress the abdomen.
Pose #2: Pavana Muktasana or The Wind-Free Pose
Pavana Muktasana is a particularly helpful asana for strengthening pancreas, liver, spleen, abdomen and abdomen muscles.
Benefits of Pavana Muktasana:
- Helps relieve gastric trouble over time.
- Energizes the digestive system
- Restricts the enlargement of liver
- Doesn’t allow the growth of fatty tissues in the abdominal wall.
How to do Pavana Muktasana?
- Lie down on the back with legs together and hands by the sides of the body.
- By contracting the abdominal muscles, raise both your legs about 20 to 30 cms.
- Now, fold your legs and bring your knees towards the chest. Catch hold of both the hands by interlocking them.
- Now, raise your head and let your head touch the knees.
- Release the asana.
- Come out of the asana in the reverse order. First, rest your head on the floor. Relax your hands, followed by your legs and finally the entire body.
Recommended repetitions for Pavana Muktasana:
In the initial stages, repeat the asana 3 to 5 times, maintaining the final posture for 3 to 10 breaths.
Things to keep in mind while doing Pavana Muktasana:
- Avoid pressing the folded knees too hard against the chest and raising the head with excessive additional force.
- Ensure your breathing remains in its natural rhythm. Do not hold your breath while your legs are folded.
Who should avoid Pavana Muktasana:
Expecting mothers as it involves movements which compress the abdomen.
Pose #3: Vajrasana or the Thunderbolt Pose
Vajrasana is excellent for aiding digestion and relieving all your tummy-related problems. It is also great if you wish to lose the excess fat around your waist.
Benefits of Vajrasana:
- Improves blood circulation in the lower abdominal region.
- Helps to prevent some types of rheumatic diseases.
- Aids in removing spinal defects too.
- It leads to smoother movement of ankles and knee joints while improving blood circulation.
How to do Vajrasana?
- To perform Vajrasana correctly, sit on the floor in a comfortable position with the legs stretched out, keeping the hands on the side of the body.
- Bend your knees and sit on your buttocks. The sides of your soles should be close together. Interlock your big toes. Maintain your posture so that your spine and neck are entirely straight
- Place your palms on your knees and relax your shoulders. Balance your body in this position while taking deep and even breaths. Do not lean back or allow your spine to arch backwards. Keep your eyes closed and remain conscious of your breathing.
- Allow your mind and body to relax entirely by inhaling and exhaling slowly.
Recommended repetitions for Vajrasana:
You can start off by sitting in this position for at least two minutes. But once you are used to it, increase it to 5-10 minutes.
Things to keep in mind while doing Vajrasana:
- Keep a rolled towel under your ankle joints if you experience any discomfort while sitting in the final stage of Vajrasana.
- To avoid the forward or backward leaning of the torso, adjust your position in a way that the body weight is experienced down the spinal column to the buttocks.
Who should avoid Vajrasana:
People who have severe knee injuries or have undergone a knee surgery must avoid this asana.
Pose #4: Tadasana or the Palm Tree Pose
Tadasana is a very basic asana, and it is essential to maintain overall body balance.
Benefits of Tadasana:
- Relieves gastritis, indigestion, acidity and flatulence
- Improves flexibility of the spine
- Helps relieve a backache
- Reduces discomfort during menstruation
How to do Tadasana?
- Stand straight with your feet slightly apart.
- With a deep breath (inhalation), raise both your arms.
- Pull your arms upwards by interlocking your fingers. Next, raise your heels and balance yourself on your toes.
- Feel the stretch from your toes to your fingers.
- Try maintaining the pose for as long as you can with slow, deep breaths.
- Come back to your original position with a long exhalation.
Recommended repetitions for Tadasana:
Repeat after a 5-10 second break. You can perform as many repetitions as you are comfortable doing.
Who should avoid doing Tadasana:
- Do not practice if you have a cardiac condition, heart palpitations, heartburn, diarrhoea or dysentery.
- Women with menorrhagia (periods with abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding) and metrorrhagia (bleeding in between regular periods) should avoid this asana.
Photo Courtesy: Shutterstock
- Chimkode, S. M., Kumaran, S. D., Kanhere, V. V., & Shivanna, R. (2015). Effect of Yoga on Blood Glucose Levels in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research: JCDR, 9(4), CC01–CC03. http://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2015/12666.5744 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4437062/