Diabetes? Yoga to the Rescue

Know more about the important role of yoga practice in fighting a common condition called diabetes.

Diabetes – a name that is no longer foreign. These days, this condition can happen to anybody, irrespective of age, place, or genetic history. Yet, there’s nothing to fret about because the condition can be controlled with a little awareness and care. Good food, regular exercise, and a few minutes of yoga practice everyday – the three golden rules to remember if you are a diabetic.
But how to first find out whether you do have diabetes or not? Simple. Just look out for these common symptoms:

Are you unusually losing weight?

Do you need to pay frequent visits to the bathroom to urinate?

Do you feel hungry or thirsty too often?

If the answer to these is ‘yes’, it is quite likely that you have high blood sugar, either due to low production of insulin in the body, or lack of response from the blood cells to the insulin produced. In either case, it’s always good to consult a doctor at the earliest.
Diabetes can be classified as Type 1 or type 2 or it can even be gestational - occurring with pregnancy. Whatever the case, the earlier the condition is treated, the better it is for the individual. And for this, yoga and meditation, along with good lifestyle practices, can be your escorts.

How yoga can help fight diabetes

- Regular yoga practice can help reduce the level of sugar in the blood, along with lowering blood pressure, keeping a weight check, reducing the symptoms and slowing the rate of progression of diabetes, as well as lessening the severity of further complications. Let’s see how.

- Like for most lifestyle diseases, stress is one of the major reasons for diabetes.It increases the secretion of glucagon hormones in the body, responsible for increasing blood glucose levels. Consistent practice of yoga asanas (body postures), pranayamas (breathing exercises) and a few minutes of daily meditation can help reduce stress in the mind and body. This, in turn, reduces glucagons and can also help improve insulin action.

- The practice of yoga is also proven to reduce weight as well as control increasing weight, which is particularly important to keep diabetes in check.Sun Salutation and Kapal Bhati pranayama are one of the best ways to weight loss.

- Diabetes can also be worsened with the occurrence of high blood pressure, or hypertension. Yoga asanas, such as the Corpse Pose, Bridge Pose, Child Pose, and Yoga Nidra are all helpful in controlling hypertension.

- Other yoga postures that are helpful in diabetes include Vajrasana (kneeling pose), Shoulder Stand, Plow Pose, Lying-Down Body Twist, Bow Posture, Two-Legged Forward Bend, and Sitting Half-Spinal Twist.

- Nadi Shodhan Pranayama is also good for diabetics. It helps release stress and flush out toxins from the body. Another excellent technique to combat diabetes is a unique breathing technique, Sudarshan Kriya, designed by Sri SriRavi Shankar. It has helped several diabetics across the world reduce blood glucose levels and control their condition from getting worse. You can learn the technique at an Art of Living Part-1 program.

- A few minutes of regular meditation practice also acts as an excellent stress-buster for the mind and body. Interestingly, while stress is the major cause of diabetes, the condition in turn results in patients getting highly stressed about it, which further aggravates the problem. It has also been observed that most diabetics lose self-confidence and end up brooding over their condition. This is where meditation can help – restoring their confidence levels so that they gain the strength to fight the condition and live well.

- Craving for sweets is a common occurrence in diabetes. Regular practice of meditation can help drop such cravings to a large extent.

Regular exercise helps

Diabetes happens because the blood cells do not respond to insulin produced. When you follow a regular exercise regimen, your body starts responding to insulin, helping in reducing blood glucose, and also sometimes the dosage of medication required.

- Exercise helps improve blood circulation in the system, particularly in the arms and legs, where diabetic patients mostly complain of problems.

- It is an excellent way to fight stress, both at the body and mind level, which in turn helps keep glucose levels down.

- Regular exercise patterns can be extremely beneficial to older patients with diabetes. In their case, the condition is partly due to lack of physical activity. A few minutes of brisk walking and joint movements, coupled with some gentle yoga postures – Triangle Pose, Standing Spinal Twist, and Butterfly Pose – followed by relaxation in yoga nidra can help.

Eating right matters

The type of food you eat and how much can be greatly responsible for diabetes and other lifestyle diseases. It is therefore important to:

- Eat at least three meals a day, along with one or two snacks evenly spaced out throughout the day.

- As far as possible, have each meal/snack at about the same time every day.

- Avoid skipping your meals.

- Keep about the same amount of carbohydrate intake in each meal every day.
You may consult a Sri Sri Ayurveda doctor to know the ideal amount of food intake as also the types of food recommended for you.

Bhara Bhindi (Stuffed Okra) for Diabetics

  • Bhindi (Okra) - 250 gms, slit
  • Coconut- 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Pumpkin - 2 tbsp
  • Fresh coriander - 1 tbsp
  • Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Black pepper powder - 1/4tsp
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  • Rock salt - as per taste
  • Anaradana (dry pomegranate seeds) or fresh grated Amla(Indian gooseberry) - 1/2 tsp
  • Garam masala - 1/4 tsp
  • Slit the Bhindi horizontally
  • Mix coconut and all spices to make the stuffing
  • Stuff the Bhindi and steam it for eight minutes
  • Serve hot