For those who live with Type 2 diabetes—often occurring as a result of aging, weight gain and a lack of exercise—help may be on the way.
Practicing yoga may be an effective method that allows sufferers to alleviate symptoms and control the disease. It can also alleviate stress, give a sufferer a way to make a difference in living with the disease—and actually stimulate the pancreas. It increases circulation and produces positive energy. All of this makes the disease much easier to live with and gives the patient a focus—and a way to alter the course of their diabetes.
The yoga poses that diabetes sufferers should concentrate on are those that stimulate the areas of the body that are affected, says Linda Hanes, a registered nurse and certified yoga instructor at Community Hospital's Fitness Pointe in Munster. That means those poses that affect the pancreas and the adrenal glands, those that create movement all the way from the hip area to the sternum.
Forward bends (including "downward dogs") cleanse organs and activate circulation, Hanes explains, which makes better use of glucose in the pancreas. "Stimulation is the key," she says.
Hanes says yoga can even help those suffering from Type 1 diabetes—which often strikes younger individuals and has nothing to do with age or lifestyle issues. "Type 1 diabetes often results in low energy and poor circulation," Hanes says. "Forward bends and twists—even holding knees against the chest—all things which involve squeezing and then releasing really increase blood flow in the long run. Asanas [types of yoga poses] that cause a squeezing and then an opening up of the area so that blood rushes in and flows into the area perks up circulation," she explains.
By stimulating the circulation in this way, Hanes says, a Type 1 diabetic can feel much better. And a Type 2 diabetic can actually stimulate the sluggish pancreas to work more efficiently.
Hanes often asks her yoga clients exactly what they are looking for regarding their yoga practice. Many of them are cardiac patients, along with having diabetes. "Yoga is a also a form of meditation," she says. "And meditation lowers stress levels and also blood sugar levels."