Yoga and Blood Sugar

Yoga and Blood Sugar
The number of people in the United States living with diabetes has reached epic levels, and many more have been diagnosed with “pre diabetes,” a condition where blood sugar is elevated enough to cause concern. If unchecked, high blood sugar can damage nearly every bodily system, including the cardiovascular organs, the nerves, the kidneys, eyes, ears, and brain. It’s obviously important to take early signs seriously, and to head off problems before they occur. While yoga is not a cure all, the practice has been shown to benefit those living with diabetes and pre diabetes.

Any form of consistent exercise will help the body move sugar out of the blood and to its appropriate destinations, but certain yoga poses offer a potential double or triple whammy. Inverted poses, for example, improve blood circulation and help promote the relaxation response, which in turn helps to regulate the production of cortisol, a hormone implicated in both the creation of “belly fat” and in metabolic regulation. Forward folds also encourage repose. Any kind of stretching feels wonderful, which encourages one to return to class.

Yoga is a powerful entree into physical activity because it can be done at so many different levels. A beginner may start with gentle yoga classes and easy walking. As muscles and fascia become more limber, more intense forms of yoga may be appropriate. The confidence gained from a yoga practice can provide a path into other forms of movement as well. Greater activity leads to a healthier lifestyle. It is no wonder that yoga is often recommended by doctors for their diabetic or pre diabetic patients!

The road to wellness has many steps, and yoga can be used to enhance each one. A regular asana practice can improve the quality of one’s sleep, which then has a positive impact on the metabolism. With greater concentration comes the ability to focus on dietary and other changes; the development of discipline furthers the ability to keep going after the ‘thrill’ of a new lifestyle begins to wear off.

Yoga is of course more than asana, and a full yogic lifestyle promotes wellness. A yogi/ni studying the yamas and niyamas will reflect on concepts such as avoiding greed, developing self-restraint, and learning to live with contentment; each of these can be helpful in revising one’s food intake. Pranayama techniques can further one’s control over emotions, giving a tool to help regulate emotional eating. Meditation, looking within, and self-study are other valuable implements for changing one’s lifestyle.

It’s always important to check with one’s doctor before starting a new exercise regime. Keep in mind that yoga teachers are not medically qualified to diagnose or treat illnesses. Yoga is complementary medicine, so be sure to follow the doctor’s advice in addition to taking that class.

A diabetes or pre-diabetes diagnosis is frightening, but there are ways to take care of the body. Yoga can help. Find a class online, at the gym, or at a studio, and get going!

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This content was written by Korie Beth Brown. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Korie Beth Brown for details.