Does yoga breathing exercises really lower blood sugar?
Yoga, a good ally against diabetes
It is well known that yoga is a discipline that gives good benefits in the prevention and control of many diseases, and diabetes is no exception .
The inclusion of yoga in the treatment of diabetes patients began in India more than three decades ago, after excellent results obtained in studies conducted by various yoga centers. One of them was the Center for Research and Yoga Therapy in Jaipur , which after submitting 641 diabetics to the practice of yoga between 1961 and 1984 (for 30 minutes a day for 60 to 90 days), found that most had reduced the blood glucose levels.
And while yoga does not cure diabetes, “it gives wonderful benefits to diabetics in different ways,” says registered dietitian Annie Kay, co-author of the book ” Yoga & Diabetes, ” with Dr. Lisa Nelson.
The book, published in English under the patronage of the American Diabetes Association, is a guide to the safe practice of yoga in people with diabetes.
How it helps
Several studies have found the following benefits in diabetics who practice yoga regularly:
Body weight control After the tension of all the muscles involved in a position of this discipline, fat is burned.
Improvement of toning and muscular functioning. Strong and toned muscles are advantageous for the diabetic, since studies have found that more muscle mass burns more calories when performing any movement.
Improvement in metabolism. After the daily exercise of yoga the excess of calories in the body is eliminated and, therefore, the metabolic process is improved, which is one of the main objectives in diabetics.
Improvement in behavior and mood. “Yoga focused on meditation and breathing, particularly known as Mindfulness, improves the behavior and mood of patients and this results in a control of sugar levels after the mental and physical well-being reached by the patient “Explains nutritionist Kay, who also serves as a certified yoga instructor at The Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Some types of diabetes are caused by stress and insufficiency of the pancreas. “The increase in stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol increase the level of sugar in the blood. High levels of cortisol promote the accumulation of fat in the abdominal region and this helps the body to become resistant to insulin, and there is no such thing as the practice of yoga to help counteractthis “, explains Sofía Puerta-Webber. , certified yoga instructor for more than a decade in Southern California.
And to reduce that stress that causes so much damage in diabetic people or not, Puerta-Webber explains that the first thing to put into practice is abdominal breathing (or pranayama, essential in yoga), which is done as follows:
1. Take a long, deep breath through your nose and feel your stomach expand.
2 . Exhale slowly and deeply through your nose and feel your stomach contract.
“In this type of breathing, it is not the chest that expands, it is the abdominal region. It’s the lower part of your lungs. When we breathe we must feel that the stomach is a balloon that inflates and deflates, “says the instructor and author of a video of yoga practice with chair. “This type of breathing is very beneficial for the good health of the body and the mind.”
Some essential postures for diabetics
Yoga instructor Sofia Puerta-Webber describes two yoga postures that are recommended for diabetics “because they are excellent for maintaining the health of the internal organs of the body, strengthen the nervous system and regulate the functions of the pancreas, intestine and tract digestive”.
The clamp (paschimothanasana)
- Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out.
- Raise your arms. Lean forward.
- Drop your arms as far as they can reach. If you can not reach the feet, use a towel.
- Lower your chest and head. Try to bring your forehead as close as possible to your knees.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath 10 times.
The bow (dhanurasana)
- Lie down in the stomach.
- Bend one knee and hold the leg.
- Stretch the other arm. Take a deep breath
- Change your leg
- Do the same with both legs. If it is not possible, do it again with one leg at a time.
As in any exercise, before starting to practice yoga, diabetics should consult their doctor beforehand if it is favorable or not according to their medical condition.
And, to obtain medical approval, to prevent the problem of hypoglycemia (common in these patients) during exercise, it is recommended to eat something light one hour before the yoga class.