Diabetes is a growing global epidemic according to the International Diabetes Federation (www.idf.org). The organization’s numbers state that China is the world leader in diabetes with 92 million diabetics, followed by India with 80 million. Almost 9 percent of the US population, about 26 million people, have diabetes. The global cost of diabetes runs in hundreds of billions of dollars.
As more people around the world are integrating complementary and alternative therapies in the management of diabetes, I looked at the yoga therapy details that are being used or recommended. You can see examples of two routines below.
The Art of Living is a popular organization and the website http://www.artofliving.org/yoga-diabetes lists the following recommendation for diabetes. It does state: The following asanas and pranayamas are effective for diabetes. They should be learned with proper guidance, before putting them into practice:
- Mandukasan (the version with fists in stomach region)
- Supta Vajrasan
- Viprit karni – Sarvangasan – Halasan – Sarvangasan
- Lie down and relax for a minute
- Natrajasan (both legs on one side)
- Purna Shalabhasan
- Triyak Bhujangasan
- Upward facing dog (Udharmukh swan asan)
- Child pose
- Udiyan Bandh
- Parvatasan-Yog Mudra
- Kapalbhati Nadisodhan pranayam
The following table was cited in the blog post Yoga Therapy For Peri and Post-Menopausal Diabetes:
Table 1: Sequence and duration of yoga techniques practiced by our subjects
Source: Madanmohan, Bhavanani AB, Dayanidy G, Sanjay Z, Basavaraddi IV. “Effect of yoga therapy on reaction time, biochemical parameters and wellness score of peri and post-menopausal diabetic patients”. Int J Yoga [serial online] 2012 [cited 2012 Feb 27];5:10-5. Available from: http://www.ijoy.org.in/text.asp?2012/5/1/10/91696
My concern is that these routines can only be used for a limited number of people–those who are quite fit to begin with. Anyone who is overweight, has high blood pressure, kidney problems, eye issues and high retinal pressures, arthritis, osteoporosis, and other medical conditions, simply cannot do most of these asanas and pranayamas. So many of these medical issues go hand-in-hand with diabetes. A knowledgeable and experienced yoga therapist is critical. There are numerous modifications that can be made.
For people with physical limitations, a gentler routine may be more appropriate. I suggest looking at the movements described in detail on www.mahasriyoga.com/asana. The routines described there are for chair yoga and standing yoga. Chair sun salutation is included. The upper and lower body movements are a good way to gently stretch, contract, and relax the abdominal area that includes the pancreas. The movements tone and massage the internal organs for better circulation and possibly improved function (studies are unclear about any yoga asanas effect on specific organ functions). Even though these movements are very gentle and may be effective, it is important to talk to your medical provider before starting any physical activity. For gentle breathing and paranayamas, try www.mahasriyoga.com/pranayama (for abdominal breathing, diaphragm breathing, and more). The website also has several low-carb vegetarian and vegan recipes that may appeal particularly to Indians. See www.mahasriyoga.com/recipes.
For information about diabetes, try:
American Diabetes Association
The United States Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Library
http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=4&tax_level=2&tax_subject=278&topic_id=1382 (wonderful resource for diet, nutrition, food preparation, and much more)
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine