Yoga Poses For People With Diabetes

The body postures and breathing techniques of yoga help people with type 1 or 2 diabetes experience increased well-being, and help those with type 2 manage blood glucose levels.

Yoga practice invokes our body’s relaxation response. This helps regulate the stress hormones that can raise both blood pressure and blood sugar.

Some yoga postures massage the pancreas, stimulating the production of insulin-manufacturing beta cells, and many of them increase glucose absorption by muscle cells. Regular practice facilitates weight loss and mental clarity as well.

Three Helpful Yoga Poses

All yoga poses, or asanas, can benefit people with diabetes, but those that stimulate the abdominal organs are especially helpful. Here are three that massage the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, and/or improve digestion. They can be done on a yoga mat or rug.

Move slowly with unfamiliar poses, do what you can—never push yourself to the point of pain. If you have any back, neck, muscle, or joint injuries, check with your doctor before attempting yoga.

Seated Forward Bend

  1. Sit tall with legs outstretched in front, toes pointing up.
  2. As you exhale, bend forward at the waist, head toward your knees.
  3. Grasp the toes with your fingers, or rest your hands as far down your legs as possible.
  4. Hold the pose while taking two or three complete breaths, then inhale and return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat 3 or 4 times.

The Half Plow

  1. Lie on your back, legs extended straight, toes pointing up, arms at your sides, palms down.
  2. Breath in as you press down with your palms and raise one of your legs slowly until it is perpendicular to the floor, sole of the foot facing the ceiling.
  3. Hold this position and your breath as long as you comfortably can.
  4. Then, slowly lower your leg (keeping it straight) back to the floor as you exhale.
  5. Repeat, lifting the other leg, to complete one cycle. Do three more cycles.

The Bridge (spinal lift)

  1. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor a few inches apart, arms at your sides, palms down.
  2. Exhale and push your hips up and off the floor; push down with your palms for added support.
  3. Your head, neck, arms and soles of the feet remain flat on the floor.
  4. Continue breathing while holding the position as long as you comfortably can.
  5. Exhale as you lower your back and hips to the floor.

There are many yoga “how-to” videos on YouTube, or for a few dollars per month join gaiamtv.com and enjoy their instructional videos.

Sources: diabetes; healthy ojas; yogawiz; art of living
Photo credit: Eli Christman

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