Yoga Exercises for Diabetes - Manage Blood Sugars
- Publish Date: 2009/02/12 - (Rev. 2012/09/17)
- Author: Bradley Kapture
Outline: Explains how yoga exercises assist people with diabetes via the mind body connection of yoga.
Main DigestThe most effective way to deal with diabetes is via the mind body connection and there are no techniques more powerful to nourish that connection than the several thousand-year-old practices of yoga. Asana or yoga postures are what most people are familiar with and use to define yoga as a whole today. The definition of asana is "comfortable seat" as it originally referred to sitting in meditation.
Explains how yoga exercises assist people with diabetes via the mind body connection of yoga.
Diabetes is the body's inability to properly utilize glucose. Glucose is the basic fuel that our cells use for energy. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 usually shows up early in life and is caused from a lack of insulin production due to the destruction of insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas and is linked to an unbalanced autoimmune function. Type 1 diabetes requires insulin dependence. Insulin is the hormone that helps to move glucose from the blood into the cells.
In up to 95% of cases type 2 diabetes often times referred to as "adult onset" is not caused from a lack of insulin production but from "insulin resistance", the body's inability to properly utilize the insulin it produces. In fact the body of the average type 2 diabetic produces three time the amount of insulin as that of a "healthy" non-diabetic.
Diabetes is a leading cause in increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications that include heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and non-traumatic lower-limb amputations.
The bad news is diabetes and pre-diabetes are reaching near pandemic numbers in this country. 24 million adults and children have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes or heightened insulin resistance, the precursor to the disease. These numbers represent a 90 percent increase in the last decade! Of these cases 95% or more are type 2 or adult onset. So what's going on here? Can you catch it? Is it being spread? No, type 2 diabetes is first and foremost a disease of lifestyle brought on by stress, lack of exercise and a poor diet. Really? Yes! And that's the good news, because you can choose to do something about it!
The most effective way to deal with diabetes is via the mind body connection and there are no techniques more powerful to nourish that connection than the several thousand-year-old practices of yoga. Let's start with the first action!
ASANA: The physical postures or "exercise" of yoga.
Exercise Acts Like Insulin!
Asana or yoga postures are what most people are familiar with and use to define yoga as a whole today. The definition of asana is "comfortable seat" as it originally referred to sitting in meditation. Over the last several hundred years it has grown into the diverse physical practice it is today.
Contrary to popular belief yoga is not about flexibility! Yoga is defined as "union" and connecting to where you are at any given moment in time. As it relates to asana it means accepting and working within the current restrictions you may have in the physical body and that includes diabetes. If you haven't practiced yoga asana before, you'll be amazed to find what a complete form of exercise it is and yoga postures can be adapted to any fitness level.
Exercise is essential to maintain a healthy body and if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes it is compulsory. Why
Because exercise acts like insulin! Exercise reduces blood glucose levels. There are many theories as to what happens, but in essence during exercise glucose is more effectively driven into the muscles and used as fuel. With continued moderate exercise muscles can take in 20 times the glucose they normally do. In addition exercise improves ongoing insulin sensitivity, promotes weight loss and helps remove fatty acids from the blood. As exercise builds more muscle mass it becomes a spiral of good getting better as there is more muscle to take in the glucose and less fat to impede the process. Exercise also improves blood flow, which is very important as many of the complications of diabetes are related to impaired blood flow in the extremities. Blood pressure is reduced, LDL (bad) cholesterol is reduced and HDL (good) cholesterol is increased. But remember, yoga asana is very different than traditional exercise. Because of the concentrated attention to the union of breath and body movement, the practice eventually becomes a "moving meditation". If you want to have healthy well-managed blood sugars and avoid excessive or even any drug therapy this is action one. A little time on the mat each day will help to better utilize glucose and decrease insulin resistance. In addition it's an amazing stress buster and will work in synergy with the other three yoga actions in my method!
Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program!
Type 1 diabetics or any diabetic taking insulin or oral medication must monitor their blood sugar levels before during and after exercise and adjust your insulin/medication doses accordingly. Blood sugars can drop to dangerously low levels if you are taking insulin or oral medication during exercise or for hours afterwards! It is generally recommended that you do not exercise if your blood sugars are over 240. If you have high blood pressure, proliferative retinopathy or peripheral neuropathy, consult your doctor. Work with a yoga professional who has knowledge of diabetes.
Reference: Bradley Kapture, author, "The Sounds of Silence" and lecturer, is the founder of yoga4diabetes . Kapture is an expert in asana, mantra and meditation practices. In 2004 a turn in life circumstances forced him to close his yoga studios, leave his yoga practice and go to work in the world of corporate sales. After just 3 years he found himself overweight, filled with anxiety and with type 2 diabetes. He refused standard drug treatment and instead returned to yoga and developed a yoga method to address the causes of type 2 diabetes and to heal his body.
Within just three months his blood sugars had returned to normal levels. His doctor responded, "I agree with you on your diabetes control; the HGA1C is well below target at 6.5 so keep doing what you're doing. It's really a tremendous achievement to go from 7.7 to 6.5 in such a short time period without medication." These results inspired him to share his yoga method and help others with diabetes reduce or eliminate dependence on medication and help those with pre-diabetes from developing the disease.
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