The role of Yoga in lifestyle modification is now getting widespread acceptance. It is now getting mainstreamed as an active lifestyle modification exercise form. Ancient Yoga literature claims it helps bring harmony between the mind and body. The earliest historical evidence of Yoga goes back to the Indus valley civilization (c 1600 BC to 2200 BC). Yoga stresses on holistic management of both the mind and body.

Modern diabetes control and management put great emphasis on exercise. It is typical for diabetologists to urge their patients to follow an exercise regime along with prescribed medicines. In ancient medicine practices, too, there is great emphasis on lifestyle changes to reverse and manage diabetes.

A systematic review of articles and studies on the health impact of Yoga shows that its’ practice helps in weight control and reduction of blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood sugar. (Yang, K., 2007; Youngwanichsetha, S. et al., 2014)

Yoga and standard physical training exercises both have a positive impact on individuals who have diabetes. It helps reduce oxidative stress and bring about improvements in antioxidant profiles. (Gordon, L.A., et al., 2008)

In addition to breathing exercises, eight forms of physical activities – (Yoga asana)- have been observed to benefit diabetic patients. These exercises were practiced daily for 45 minutes, followed by relaxation exercises like Shavasana (Deadman pose) and Makrasana (Crocodile pose).

The Yoga asana practiced were Dhanurasana (Bow pose), and Ardha matsayendrasana (half spinal twist) helped control diabetes optimally. Halasana (plow pose), Vajrasana (sitting posture with feet under your hips, Bhujangasana (Cobra pose), and Naukasana (boat pose) were effective.

Yoga mudra (sitting with one finger of the hand touching the thumb) and Shalabasana (locust pose) adversely affected people with diabetes and worsened their diabetes status. It is an interesting observation and indicates that the nature of the exercise is also vital in diabetes management. Dhanurasana (Bow pose) was most effective in diabetes control. Yoga was useful for people with diabetes of all ages. (Sahay, B.K., 2007)

A one-month practice of meditation on people with diabetes shows a reduction in HbA1c (glycosylated hemoglobin) values and arterial pressure of individuals. All major psychological parameters like depression, anxiety, and general psychological distress decreased by 43%, 37%, and 35%, respectively. (Rosenzweig, S. et al., 2007Whitebird, R.R., et al., 2009)

Sixty adult patients with an HbA1c value between 6.0 and 8.0 were subjected to an Ayurvedic diet, meditation training instruction, and an Ayurvedic herb supplement. HbA1c values in these patients dropped. (Elder, C. et al., 2006)

In addition to these supporting studies, I did come across a few studies whose findings indicated that the impact of meditation on diabetes management was not as straightforward and positive as the discourse hitherto may suggest.

Divergence in scientific views is standard in science. These do get resolved over time with more studies and trials. I will, though, based on this scientific review, say that the practice of pranayama, yoga asana, and meditation, all three interventions of yoga, will benefit diabetes patients.


Additional reading:
Natural Solutions for Diabetes, cancer, and obesity – a tri-series

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