Yoga More Effective Than Other Forms of Exercise in Treating Diabetes
November 04, 2008 by: Sheryl Walters

Diabetes is an increasingly common problem in society associated with insulin problems. Insulin causes the body's cells to take up glucose from the blood. Because of the standard Western diet that is high in sugar and dead carbohydrates that turn to sugar, the pancreas becomes exhausted and the cells are overworked. Type 1 diabetes occurs when there is a diminished production of insulin, and type 2 diabetes occurs when the cells become resistant to sugar. In addition to a transformation in diet, many studies show that the regular practice of yoga can have a dramatic effect on this lethal condition.

It is well established that exercise is vital for treating diabetes naturally. It is essential to lowering blood sugar levels naturally and maintaining optimum weight levels. Exercise is also an important natural treatment for heart disease, which is another common problem for people with diabetes. But there is something special about the ancient art of yoga. These postures have been used for millennia to treat a wide range of illnesses, and the effects seem to be as relevant today as ever. Performing yoga postures can help most people to control the causes of diabetes.

Two reasons that yoga is particularly great for diabetes:

  • Rejuvenates pancreatic cells, through alternate abdominal contractions and relaxation, during asanas (yogic postures which produce relaxation) and breathing exercises.
  • Reduces blood sugar due to muscular exercise involved in the asanas.

Researchers at the Laboratory Division, Central Research Institute for Yoga, Delhi, India studied the effects of yoga on 149 non-insulin-dependent diabetics. Sixty-nine percent of the respondents showed a fair to good response. The researchers concluded that yoga was a simple and economical therapy useful for non-insulin dependent diabetics.

Another study at the Department of Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi attempted to discover whether yoga postures could help diabetics release insulin from the pancreas. Twenty healthy young volunteers were given four sets of yoga postures to perform. The asanas given were:

  1.  Dhanurasana (bow pose)
  2. Matsyendrasana (seated twist)
  3.  Halasana (plow pose)
  4. Vajrasana (thunderbolt pose)
  5.  Naukasana (boat pose)
  6. Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
  7.  Setubandhasana (bridge pose)
  8. Pavanamuktasana (wind relieving pose)

Each volunteer practiced the above sets in random order for five days with a two day interval between consecutive sets of asanas. Blood tests showed that the cumulative effect of yoga led to improved "sensitivity of the b-Cells of the pancreas to the glucose signal."

A study published in the Nepal Medical College Journal put 20 diabetics on a 40 day yoga routine taught by an expert yoga teacher. The postures performed were:

  • Surya Namaskar (sun salutation)
  • Trikonasana (triangle pose)
  • Tadasana (mountain pose)
  • Sukhasana (easy pose)
  • Padmasana (lotus pose)
  • Bhastrika Pranayama (breathing exercise)
  • Pashimottanasana (posterior stretch)
  • Ardhmatsyendrasana (half spinal twist)
  • Pawanmuktasana (joint freeing series)
  • Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
  • Vajrasana (thunderbolt pose)
  • Dhanurasana (bow pose)
  • Shavasana (corpse pose)

At the end of 40 days of yoga, most of the participants had a decrease in fasting glucose levels, a significant decrease in waist-hip ratio and beneficial changes in insulin levels.

Several studies have focused on why yoga is more profoundly successful in treating diabetes than other forms of exercise. One of the keys seems to come down to stress. Stress plays an important role in diabetes because it elevates blood glucose levels and increases the odds of developing certain complications, such as heart disease, stroke and infections. Yoga and meditation are undoubtedly two of the best practices for reducing stress.

M.V. Bhole and K.N. Udupa, two scientists who research yoga in India, have measured the effects of yoga on mental stresses. They have shown that yoga is more powerful in beneficial in treating stress than regular exercise because it begins to change one's attitude towards the situations of life by developing mental relaxation and balance.

In other studies, yoga dramatically lowers cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in the body.

About the author

Sheryl is a kinesiologist, nutritionist and holistic practitioner.
Her website provides the latest research on preventing disease, looking naturally gorgeous, and feeling emotionally and physically fabulous.
And her latest website offers a vast quantity of information on how to increase sex drive and enjoy a vibrant sex life.

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