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Yoga and its Effect on Diabetes

Paul M. Jerard Jr.
May 30, 2008
Yoga instructors need to work closely with diabetic students in order to maximize the health advantages from yoga. Recent findings reveal the many positive effects that yoga has on diabetes.

Yoga cannot "cure" diabetes, but there are several ways yoga can be beneficial in controlling diabetes. If medically prescribed regimens are followed by diabetic students, they can safely add yoga to their treatment. Due to the potential impact on their glucose levels, and overall body function, great strides can be made through regular committed yoga practice.

The benefits of yoga on circulation are tremendous. This is one of the reasons yoga is so healthy for people suffering from a variety of ailments. Circulatory problems, in diabetics, are the primary cause of many devastating side effects. Yoga's focus on breathing, stretching and rotational movements, by nature, improves circulation.

Yoga also helps maintain the elasticity of blood vessels. This further assists in good circulation. In turn, increased oxygen is supplied to internal organs and the important glands of the endocrine system. When the blood vessels remain elastic, this means better heart health and decreased risk of stroke.

Back bends are especially good for the cardiovascular system. Yoga teachers should encourage diabetic students to incorporate back bends into their postures. If a student has mobility problems, because of age or obesity, consider assisted back bends with props to support his, or her, body, neck, and head.

Digestion is improved through movements and breath control of yoga (pranayama). Pancreas and liver operation is also enhanced. The rotations of certain postures also massage the glands of the endocrine system, encouraging hormone production.

Diabetics, who commit to the regular practice of yoga, will likely experience less dependence on insulin. Studies have found that significant drops in the average blood glucose levels occur in type II diabetics, when they practice yoga on a regular basis. Additional findings demonstrate an increase in nerve function.

Neuropathy is another major complication of diabetes. Neuropathies are a family of nerve disorders that often result in numbness, tingling, and sometimes, pain. Yoga has been shown to help prevent the onset of neuropathy. In diabetics with sub-clinical neuropathy, yoga can relieve symptoms.

Not least important is the stress reduction power of yoga. Through focus on breathing slowly, and deliberately, stress levels are reduced. Glucagon secretion is enhanced by stress, which raises the blood sugar. Through effective stress management, and increased balance in the body, this can be prevented and reversed.

The following sequences and poses are beneficial to diabetic students:

Sun Salutations - This sequence of poses is great for diabetics. The flowing series of movements increases blood flow to all parts of the body, improving insulin administration.

Peacock Pose (Mayurasana) - The peacock pose is said to tone up the pancreas, kidneys, and liver. Improved digestion is another benefit.

Locust Pose - The locust benefits the nerves by reducing tension. The constriction and release, in the muscles of the back, relaxes muscles. The movement also stimulates the pancreas.

Chest-Knee Pose - Also called the Knees to Chest pose, this posture provides a great deal of support for digestion. The lower digestive tract is soothed and stimulated by this posture. Lower back pain is also relieved by the stretching of those muscles. It reduces tension.

The Cobra Pose, Bow Pose, Leg Lift and Half-Moon pose are also recommended. Try abdominal pumping as a part of the student's regimen to further stimulate the organs.

Diabetic students must remember that yoga is more than just exercise. In addition to breathing control, and muscle stretching, yoga includes behavioral modifications, and diet control, through mental discipline. The positive effects of the physical, must be tempered with enhanced mental will power. The best benefit of regular yoga practice is an increase in quality of life and happiness.

Copyright 2008 - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
About the Author
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. He is an author of many books on the subject of Yoga and has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995.

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