Yoga for Diabetes! Does it Really Work?
Published on May 14, 2022
By Dr. Surya Bhagwati
Chief In- House Doctor
BAMS, DHA, DHHCM, DHBTC | 30+ Years of Experience
Millions of people worldwide suffer from diabetes and many live their lives in fear of its complications. While diabetes is yet incurable, Ayurveda has shown to if not reverse diabetes but reduce the negative effects on your body all by natural means. The right diet and yoga for diabetes can help you maintain the optimum blood sugar level in your body. Yoga, especially, helps reduce your blood sugar level, reduce stress, and enhance your mobility which helps reduce not just the symptoms and signs of diabetes but also its complications.
In this article:
Chapter 1: What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that causes your blood sugar level to rise above normal. Blood sugar is one of the main sources of energy that comes from the food you eat. However, for that energy to form, you need insulin to convert glucose into energy. When your body does not make enough insulin, glucose stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells. This causes diabetes.
In 2021, 1 out of 12 Indians are diabetic. More than 74 million people in India are diagnosed with diabetes. While you cannot cure diabetes, you can manage diabetes by having the right diet and exercise while skipping the practices that may accentuate diabetes.
Symptoms & Signs of Diabetes
Let us learn about some of the signs of diabetes that can help you identify if you have symptoms of the disease.
You may be suffering from diabetes if you:
- Feel very thirsty
- Feel very hungry
- Experience blurry vision
- Feel very tired
- Have extremely dry skin
- Have more infections than usual
- Have numb feelings on your hands or feet
- Urinate a lot, especially at night
- Have sores that heal slowly
- Are losing weight without trying
If you have Type 1 Diabetes, your signs of diabetes may also include nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain.
Causes & Complications of Diabetes
The exact cause of Type 1 Diabetes is unknown but in the case of diabetes, your immune system, which is supposed to fight bacteria and viruses, destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
Some of the common causes of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes include:
- Being overweight
- Genetics play a key role
- A virus can also set off an immune system attack
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy
Diabetes, if left uncontrolled, can lead to many complications. High blood sugar damages organs and tissues throughout the body. Since diabetes affects the immune system, a lot of the complications are related to compromised immunity.
Some of the type 2 diabetes complications include:
- Heart attack, heart disease or stroke
- Loss of hearing
- Skin conditions such as fungal and bacterial infections
- Joint Pain
As diabetes can be passed on genetically, its complications do not end with you. This is true, especially for expectant mothers. Your child can inherit diabetes even during pregnancy. For mothers with Type 2 diabetes, it impacts both mother and the baby.
It can cause type 2 diabetes complications like:
- Premature birth
- Higher-than-normal weight of the child at birth
- Low blood sugar
Can Diabetes Increase the Risk of Covid-19?
While COVID-19 is still largely prevalent, it is only natural to wonder if having diabetes can increase your risk of Covid-19.
While there is not enough information on whether people with diabetes are more likely to get Covid-19, they are more likely to have serious complications from Covid-19.
Risk Factors of Diabetes
You are more likely to get Type 1 Diabetes as a child or teenager if anyone in your family already has it.
Your chances for Type 2 Diabetes increase when you are:
- Above the age of 45
- Not exercising (have a sedentary lifestyle)
- Suffering from high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- Having vision problems
You have a higher risk of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) if you:
- Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Are over the age of 25
- Have given birth to a baby weighing more than 4kg
- Have a family history of Type 2 diabetes
Chapter 2: Ayurvedic Remedies for Diabetes
You might wonder, can Ayurveda cure diabetes? While there is no cure for diabetes, there is a solution for it in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is known to approach every illness from its core. Diabetes is known as ‘Madhumeha’ or ‘Prameha’ in Ayurveda. The imbalance of Kapha dosha causes diabetes. While Kapha dosha’s dominance in the body does not cause diabetes, if it is not countered with a balanced lifestyle, it can lead to diabetes.
Ayurvedic treatment for diabetes looks into the three processes of ‘Aahar’, ‘Vihaar’ and ‘Chikitsa’ i.e., through the right diet, lifestyle and medication.
Yoga for Diabetes
As we just learned, not exercising is one of the main reasons for diabetes. Staying physically active is not just important to fight diabetes but also to avoid it.
There are several yoga asanas for diabetes that can help keep you fit, relax your mind and alleviate uncomfortable symptoms as well.
Are there other benefits to yoga for diabetes patients? Let’s find out!
Benefits of Yoga for Diabetes
While yoga is a great lifestyle experience, practising it every day can help you greatly with reducing your diabetes symptoms.
Let us learn in detail about the benefits of yoga for diabetes:
- Performing yoga regularly soothes your joint pain
- It helps you synchronize your breathing with your movement. This helps you activate your internal organs to balance your internal organs
- Helps control your stress and emotions that lowers blood pressure
- Regular yoga can also help reduce diabetes-related risks like heart disease
- Helps attain glycaemic control
- Regulates eating patterns and improves dietary practice
Chapter 3: What Yoga Poses are Good for Diabetes?
As we just learned, asanas for diabetes are great for reducing blood sugar levels in patients with Type 2 Diabetes.
Yoga cannot help cure diabetes but can help reduce its effects. Certain yoga asanas help activate the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin, that can aid optimum metabolism required to maintain blood sugar levels in the body. Let us now learn about yoga asanas for diabetes:
Top 8 Yoga Asanas for Diabetes
1. Marijariasana (Cat pose)
Marijariasana, also known as the Cat pose, helps bring flexibility to the spine, and massages the digestive organs that improve digestion. This asana useful in diabetes is known to improve blood circulation and, in turn, helps maintain blood sugar levels in the body.
How to Perform Marijariasana Yoga Pose
- Come on your all fours like a cat
- Keep your arms perpendicular to the floor and your knees are hip-width apart
- Look straight ahead
- As you inhale, raise your chin and tilt your head back
- Raise your tailbone and push your navel backwards
- Hold the cat pose and take long, deep breaths
- Hold the pose for a few seconds and then return to the table like stage
2. Balasana (Child Pose)
One of the best yoga for diabetes, Balasana, also known as, Child pose, helps relieve stress and fatigue and encourages relaxation that helps in increasing the production of insulin-producing cells.
How to Perform Marijariasana Yoga Pose
- Sit in the kneeling position and ensure that your knees are wide apart at the same width as your hips
- Move a bit backwards and try to touch your heels with your hips
- Lean forward and touch the ground with your forehead
- Stretch your arms forward and feel the pressure on your back
- Hold the pose and relax
3. Bhujangasana (Upward-facing Dog pose)
Bhujangasana or Upward-facing dog pose is a great form of yoga to cure diabetes symptoms as it increases the strength of your muscles which ultimately reduces your blood sugar levels.
How to Perform Bhujangasana Yoga Pose
- Lie on your stomach and keep your legs straight
- Keep your forearms perpendicular to the floor
- Place your arms on the floor, keeping them adjacent to your ribcage
- Press your arms and lift your body
- Do not hold the body on your feet, instead, let your hip muscles feel firm
- Look straight and hold the pose for 10-15 seconds and then let go
4. Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
One of the easiest asanas for diabetes, Corpse pose or Shavasana not only relaxes your body but also calms your mind. It allows your body to take in the benefits of the other yoga poses and helps reduce the stress that helps control symptoms of diabetes.
How to Perform Shavasana Yoga Pose
- To perform this yoga for diabetes, all you need to do is lie down straight on your back
- Relax your body and mind and feel the weightlessness
- Hold this position for at least 15 minutes
- Best performed as a cool-down yoga pose
5. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Tadasana or Mountain pose is known as yoga to cure diabetes as it allows the internal organs to work more efficiently and helps improve blood circulation. This promotes insulin sensitivity to control your blood sugar level.
How to Perform Tadasana Yoga Pose
- Stand straight on the flat ground
- Keep your arms on the side of your body
- Slowly breathe in and extend your arms up and down to the sides of your body
- Hold this pose for 5-10 minutes
6. Mandukasana (Frog Pose)
Mandukasana for diabetes helps in stretching the pancreas to promote the release of insulin. It also promotes digestive health and improves the function of the other glands of the body. This is one of the best yoga for diabetes but you should avoid it if you suffer from backache, migraine, or insomnia.
How to Perform Mandukasana Yoga Pose
- Fold your knees backwards and sit down on the ground
- Make a fist and put your hand on your stomach
- Keep your fist in a way that the joints of your fist come at your navel
- Place your fist firmly and press your stomach
- Bend forward in this position and try to touch the ground with your forehead
- Hold this position for 10-15 seconds
7. Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)
Yet another great asana useful in diabetes is Chakrasana or Wheel pose as it helps stretch and relax your spine. Regularly practising this yoga for diabetes helps reduce stress and calms down your mind. It strengthens the pancreas that stimulates the release of insulin for balancing your blood sugar level.
How to Perform Chakarasana Yoga Pose
- Lie down on your back. Bend your knees and bring your legs close to your hips
- Bring your palms together under your shoulder so that your fingers point towards your shoulders
- Press your palms firmly on the ground and inhale while lifting your shoulders, elbows and hips
- Straighten your arms and legs
- Hold the pose for 10-15 seconds and let go
8. Pranayama (Breath Regulation)
Pranayama for diabetes has tons of benefits as it increases metabolism, regulates insulin secretion, and helps avoid complications of diabetes. Pranayama exercises like kapalbhati and bhastrika are known to stimulate the master gland of the body to affect the pancreas that secretes insulin.
How to Perform Bhastrika Pranayama Yoga Pose
- Sit in a relaxed seated yoga pose
- Straighten your back
- Bend your elbows and make dist with your hands
- Now inhale, and raise your hands slightly up and open the fist
- On exhale, take your hand back to the shoulder level and close the fist again
- Moderately breathe and doit rapidly
How to Perform Kapalbhati Pranayama Yoga Pose
- Sit in a comfortable position
- Place hands over your knee cap and relax
- Take a deep breath through nostrils
- Place your right hand over your belly with little force
- Exhale by pushing the abdominal wall producing a ‘hiss’ sound
- Experience the blow of air through your upper body
Chapter 4: Home Remedies for Diabetes
Now that we know how yoga for diabetes can help you reduce the complications and signs of diabetes, it is important to know that the other aspects of your lifestyle matter just as much.
Let us learn about some home remedies for diabetes that can help control its symptoms:
- Water is your Best Friend: Since most liquids have some kind of sugar in them, your top choice of beverage should be water. This will help you consume less glucose. Drinking enough water can also help flush excess glucose through urine.
- Lose your weight if you are overweight: Excess fat can be one of the causes of your diabetes. While not everyone with diabetes is overweight, if you are, you should look into some weight loss tips to reduce the complications of diabetes
- Quit smoking: While smoking is bad for everyone, it is especially worse for someone with diabetes. Studies have shown that if you smoke, you have 30-40% more chances of getting type 2 diabetes. Nicotine increases your blood sugar level and increases the complications of diabetes
- Alcohol is a big NO: If you have Type 2 diabetes, alcohol should be the last time on your mind. It causes chronic inflammation of the pancreas that reduces its ability to produce insulin.
Foods that Prevent Diabetes
Yoga for diabetes is not the only weapon that Ayurveda has on its sleeve to protect you from the disease. Ayurveda believes that for anyone to lead a healthy life, they should also consume sattvic food.
Sattvic diet is rich in fibre, has low fat and sugar and is high in vitamins and minerals. This makes it great for reducing sugar levels in people with diabetes. So, let us learn about some of the foods that prevent diabetes and are great natural ways for diabetes management.
Try to consume:
- Non-starchy vegetables like leafy green vegetables, broccoli, and cauliflower
- Whole grains like whole-wheat pasta and bread, chapati, whole grain rice, whole oats and quinoa
- Fruits such as tomatoes, peppers, apricots, berries, pears and apples
- Healthy fats like olive, sunflower, canola and cottonseed oils
- Nuts and seeds like almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, cod, and mackerel
Along with these options, there are foods that lower blood sugar as they contain a great source of fibre that slows down the absorption of sugar. These manage risk factors like high blood pressure and inflammation.
Let us learn about some of them:
- Broccoli and broccoli sprouts produce a chemical called Sulforaphane that has blood-sugar-reducing properties
- Seafood is a great option as foods that lower blood sugar as they offer a great source of protein, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins that help regulate blood sugar levels
- Research has shown that nuts can help regulate blood sugar level
- Ochra or ladyfingers are not just tasty vegetables but also have antioxidants that reduce blood sugar level
- Flax seeds are known to be rich in fibre and healthy fats that help reduce blood sugar level
Foods to Avoid with Diabetes
Now that we have learned about some of the foods that prevent diabetes, let us discuss the ones that can be harmful to you!
Your body needs all the nutrients and vitamins to keep you healthy. But there are a few foods that may seem healthy but can increase your already high blood sugar level. And then some foods are just not right!
Some foods to avoid with diabetes include:
- Processed grains like white rice and white flour
- Cereals with less whole grains and more sugar
- Fried foods - We all love french fries, but they may not be the best choice for someone with diabetes
- Canned vegetables with lots of added sodium
- Pickles and Sauerkraut, especially if you have high blood pressure
- Soda, sugary drinks, sweetened tea, energy drinks and flavoured coffee
The right diet is crucial when you are trying to manage your blood sugar level. Through yoga for diabetes and the proper diet, you can surely manage diabetes and regulate your normal blood sugar level.
Chapter 5: Ayurvedic Treatment for Diabetes
The ayurvedic treatment for diabetes is personalised based on your dosha. It is treated using multi-pronged approaches using aahar, vihaar and chikitsa. We just discussed the right aahar to control and reduce your diabetes symptoms. Yoga for diabetes is the best approach for vihaar as we learned earlier.
Now is the time that we learn about the third pillar of this system. Ayurvedic chikitsa revolves around using the right concoction of herbs that are used to avoid the complications of diabetes.
Let us learn in detail about some of these herbs:
- Gudmar- It is famous in Ayurveda for its indispensable medicinal and healing properties. The leaves of gudmar produce gymnemic acid that destroys sugar and hence helps reduce blood sugar levels
- Vjaysar- It is known to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and prevents pancreatic cells against damage and enhances insulin secretion in the body
- Methi- It contains fibre and slows down the digestion process, and hence regulates the absorption of carbohydrates and sugar
- Mamejave- It has anti-inflammatory and helps in reducing blood sugar levels
- Guduchi- It has great ant-oxidant and anti-diabetic properties and helps reduce blood sugar level by enhancing the level of insulin in the body
While you can easily reduce the symptoms of diabetes by taking the aforementioned herbs, it is important that you not just take the right herbs but also the right amount.
So, to help you reduce your blood sugar level, the expert doctors at Dr Vaidya’s have created Diabex capsules, that contain all these herbs for diabetes and more.
The formulation is prepared by expert ayurvedic doctors that help nourish your vital organs, promote glucose metabolism, prevent sugar level fall, and help regulate your blood sugar level.
Consuming 1-2 Diabex capsules, twice a day can help you reduce the symptoms of diabetes.
Buy your Diabex capsules today and kickstart your journey of regulating your blood sugar level for a healthier life.
MyPrash for Diabetes Care
One of the complications of long-standing and uncontrolled diabetes is that it weakens your immune system. The most important thing you can do for maintaining your immune system is to reduce the symptoms of diabetes. If you wonder how to build your immunity power, you can always benefit from natural ways to increase immunity.
Chyawanprash is known in India as one of the most potent solutions for immunity. While chyawanprash benefits you greatly, a regular chyawanprash contains a lot of sugar that can be counterintuitive. At Dr Vaidya’s, we have created a special concoction for people with diabetes.
MyPrash for Diabetes Care is a sugar-free formulation with the goodness of chyawnaprash that’s safe for diabetics. It is created especially to manage your blood sugar level and boost the immunity and energy that you need for yoga for diabetes.
Final Word on Yoga for Diabetes
Diabetes may be incurable but you do not have to live your life wondering about every complication it can bring to you. Ayurvedic treatment for diabetes can help you reverse its symptoms and even reduce the complications caused by it.
With the right diet, ayurvedic herbs and yoga for diabetes, you can fight the disease and live a happy and healthy life.
Chapter 6: FAQs on Yoga for Diabetes
Can diabetes be cured by yoga?
Yoga can help control diabetes when practised regularly. Yoga for diabetes can also help soothe your joint pain and balance your internal organs. It helps relax the pancreas that releases insulin and lowers blood pressure.
Which exercise is good for diabetes?
Yoga is a great form of exercise for diabetes. Some of the top yoga poses include pranayama for diabetes, balasana, marijariasana, and bhujanagasana.
What is normal blood sugar by age?
Normal blood sugar level for adults ranges from 90 to 110 mg/dL.
Which asana is useful in diabetes?
Some of the key asanas for diabetes include balasana, bhujangasana, tadasana, mandukasana for diabetes, chakrasana, and more.
How can I reverse diabetes permanently?
While there is no permanent way to cure diabetes, you can manage Diabetes with the right diet and exercise. You should regularly practice yoga and diabetes can easily be reversed.