Yoga Poses to Ease Diabetes Symptoms and Promote Healthy Eating

Did you know a few daily yoga poses can do wonders to help you manage stress and diabetes?

Diabetes continues to rise which is why scientists are seeking out new ways to treat the disease. One of the most profound findings is that you can control your blood sugar through holistic exercise. Yoga is one of the best alternatives for exercise because it’s good for the body and the mind. You not only keep diabetes under control at a cellular level through the exercises but yoga promotes healthier eating choices.

Yoga Poses

Photos courtesy of Meera Watts

A controlled clinical study on yoga for those with Type 2 Diabetes tested anthropometry, blood pressure, glycemic control, and oxidative stress in 123 type 2 diabetic patients. When compared to standard care on its own, yoga was a good addition in significantly reducing BMI, glycemic control, and malondialdehyde and increase in glutathione and vitamin C. The study concluded that yoga can be used as effective therapy in the reduction of oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes. Yoga reduces stress and improve the overall function of your internal organs which minimizes effects of the disease.

Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes depends on the development of insulin resistance. The causes of Type 2 are often unknown but have been linked to being overweight and inactive.

Reasons to Do Yoga

Autoimmune destruction within the islet cells of the pancreas is what occurs when you have Type 1 diabetes. The pancreas is what manufactures the hormone which regulates your blood sugar (insulin).

Yoga helps control the stress that your body experiences through outward events. Reducing stress helps because stress impacts the stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline which raise your blood sugar levels.

The practice of yoga will also improve how your abdominal organs function. There are poses in yoga that nourish, massage, and stimulate organs which in turn makes them perform better. You improve metabolic activity within the body which can help regulate insulin use. Additionally, the endocrine glands are stimulated, which allows the body to utilize insulin in a more efficient way.

Yoga has also been proven to help you lose weight and slow down fat accumulation. As obesity is one of the highest contributing factors in diabetes, keeping weight off with gentle poses can be essential.

Just as important as the yoga poses is the breathing. Techniques such as Nadi Shodhan (Alternate Nostril Breathing) and Kapalabhati (Skull-Shining Breath) are beneficial. Alternate Nostril Breathing will calm your nervous system, help reduce stress, and balance bodily systems. Skull-Shining Breath stimulates the pancreas which releases insulin.

Yoga Poses

While not all yoga poses will be helpful for all people, you may find some of them beneficial. As you start utilizing these poses, start off gently and work your way up to more complex versions.

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Yoga Pose - Tree

Photo courtesy of Meera Watts

This balancing pose can be done more easily when you are next to a wall. The pose will help stimulate the pancreas and involves stretching your groin deeply.

Half Twist Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Yoga Pose - Half Twist

Photo courtesy of Meera Watts

When you do twists, you massage your organs and stimulate the digestive system while squeezing out toxins. This simple twist compresses the pancreas and other digestive organs and once released, nourishes them with a blast of fresh, oxygenated blood. Half Twist Pose stimulates your insulin production.

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

Yoga Pose - Bow

Photo courtesy of Meera Watts

Bow Pose is a back bend pose that massages and improves the function of your pancreas and intestines. This in turn, controls blood sugar levels more effectively.

Forward Bend Pose (Paschimottanasana)

Yoga Pose - forward bend

Photo courtesy of Meera Watts

This forward bend pose helps relieve stress and tension in the body which may contribute to diabetic complications. It also massages your abdominal organs which allow them to work more effectively.

Plow Pose (Halasana)

Yoga Pose - Plow

Photo courtesy of Meera Watts

This inversion brings the heart over the head and allows blood to change its flow. You nourish and improve the function of your thyroid which helps normalize hormone levels. It deeply compresses the abdomen, detoxifying upon release. The pancreas, kidney and liver functions are improved. Your mind also becomes very relaxed in this pose which reduces stress and tension that are not good for people with diabetes.

Yoga & Diet

For those who are not helping their condition through unhealthy diet choices, it’s important to note that yoga really can help you eat better. Many times, our emotional response to stress, anxiety, depression is to comfort eat. Being ill with diabetes for someone who is already fighting with their weight can be a challenging fight. Yoga teaches you to go into your mind and become centered and when you practice that enough, you’ll become mindful about all things.

When you reach for the fridge door with ice cream in mind, you may instead choose to at least attempt to stop yourself. Through the breathing exercises or poses described here, promise yourself a 1-minute yoga practice. One pose and a little bit of breathing may bring you back to a relaxed frame of mind where you can then make a healthier choice. If you do reach for the ice cream, at least you won’t beat yourself up over it, which of course can cause you to overeat.

You have a dual help system to help you with your diabetes when it comes to yoga. Not only can the yoga poses relax you while promoting the organs to work optimally but you can emotionally prevent further problems. If you practice daily, studies have shown that before long, you’ll have less problems at a cellular level and your diabetes symptoms will be greatly reduced.


Meera WattsMeera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes, and other publications. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International. Find her on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Always discuss any dietary or lifestyle changes with your doctor first.


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