Whether you’re diabetic, pre-diabetic, or want to keep your blood sugar under control, a regular yoga practice can help. In order to understand how yoga can work to lower blood sugar, it helps to understand some of the things that raise it in the first place.
Blood sugar rises for a number of reasons, including:
- Stress. Stress raises cortisol and interferes with hormones that control blood sugar metabolism. Stress also increases the production of glucagon, the hormone that responds to the “fight or flight” response by producing glucose to give your body energy to “fight.”
- Eating the “wrong” foods. A diet that is too high in carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates and sugar, will spike blood sugar levels.
- The body’s inability to make or respond to insulin. People with insulin resistance are more likely to become type 2 diabetics. Insulin resistance refers to the body’s inability to use insulin, the hormone responsible for moving sugar out of the blood, efficiently. In type 1 diabetes, the body makes little to no insulin.
- Being overweight. Excess body fat can prevent insulin from being absorbed. When this happens, insulin cannot do its job, and blood sugar levels remain high.
Some studies suggest that diabetics who practice yoga have an easier time controlling blood sugar and fewer complications from the disease.
Yoga can help in the following four important ways.
1. Yoga reduces stress.
Many people turn to yoga because they are under stress, and for good reason. Yoga helps lower stress by relaxing the body, improving breathing and calming the mind, all of which are directly related to the amount of stress you feel.
2. Yoga can help you lose weight.
While weight loss isn’t usually the primary reason that people practice yoga, many do find that they lose weight when they practice more active forms such as vinyasa or power yoga regularly.
3. Yoga builds muscle.
In yoga, you use your own body for resistance; it can be as effective as strength training with free weights in building muscle mass. Do enough chaturangas, arm balances, or chair poses, and you’ll begin to notice muscle where you haven’t seen them before! Since muscle burns fat more efficiently than fat does, the more muscle you have, the easier it will be to keep weight off and, by extension, keep blood sugar from rising.
4. Yoga makes you more likely to take care of yourself in all ways.
The principles of yoga include a set of tenets called yamas and the niyamas, which refer to the way we care for ourselves. A few of these tenets relate to how we care for our health and our bodies. In line with those ideas, yoga can help you stay committed to eating a healthy diet, keeping stress at bay, and exercising regularly. All of these actions will help keep blood sugar levels more stable.
As an overall lifestyle practice, yoga will help you stay in shape physically, mentally, and spiritually. This naturally includes keeping health problems like high blood sugar at bay. Keep practicing and you’ll see the results for yourself. Even if you’ve never done yoga before, you do not need professional skills in order to get results. Watching beginner videos while you try out some of these yoga moves will be a great aid in helping you reach your end goal. Check out these moves you can try at home. Be sure to practice safely and only do poses you know your body can handle.
11 great poses to try
1. Legs-Up-the-Wall. This pose is especially refreshing if you have stress. It also gives blood circulation a gentle boost toward the upper body and head, which helps you to recenter yourself after you have been sitting or standing for a long time.
2. Reclining Bound Angle Pose. This pose helps you reduce stress and stimulate organs in your abdominal area, kidneys, and bladder.
3. Standing Forward Bend. This pose helps you relieve anxiety, headaches, and fatigue.
4. Supported Shoulder Stand. This pose helps you improve circulation, stimulate the thyroid gland, and help calm the mind to relieve stress.
5. Plow Pose. This pose helps to stimulate the thyroid gland, increase circulation, and relieve backaches, headaches, and insomnia.
6. Upward Facing Dog. This pose helps you lower blood pressure, boost circulation, promote weight loss, and stimulate abdominal organs.
7. Bow Pose.This is a great one to help you open up your chest, relieve constipation, and aid in respiratory alignment.
8. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose. This pose helps improve your digestion and boosts your energy levels.
9. Supine Spinal Twist. This pose helps alleviate pain and stiffness in your spine, back, and hips.
10. Child’s Pose. This pose encourages relaxation, promotes the production of insulin-producing beta cells, and relieves back and neck pain, stress, and fatigue.
11. Corpse Pose or Savasana. This pose helps to relieve headaches, fatigue, and insomnia. This is also great to do at the end of your yoga practice.
List of Yoga Poses: A-Z Asana Guide, https://www.yogajournal.com/poses