Yoga: A Natural Way to Managing Diabetes

Regular practice of yoga can bring about remarkable benefits to the body, extending beyond mere physical strength and toning. It has the potential to safeguard the body against diseases, ensuring a state of wellness. Research suggests that yoga holds significant potential as a therapeutic approach for lifestyle diseases, particularly diabetes. In this context, Juhi Kapoor, a renowned Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher, delves into the nature of diabetes, its underlying causes, and the specific yoga postures that can effectively manage it.

Did you know, in 2021, there were over 131 million people diagnosed with diabetes in India? That’s a lot! What is this deadly epidemic that India suffers from?

Diabetes Mellitus or as we call it Diabetes more commonly, is a disease wherein the body is not able to break down and regulate its glucose levels, which results in higher sugar levels in the blood. This can lead to serious problems like high cholesterol, poor cardiovascular health, and weaker bones over time. High blood sugar levels are said to be slow poison to the body.

But, why does this happen? Why is the body not able to break that glucose? Glucose comes from the food we eat, moreover, the body is capable of producing it on its own as well. The pancreas is responsible for secreting insulin, a hormone that breaks the glucose into energy required for us to function. However, when the pancreas cannot make enough insulin or when the body can not absorb it, the glucose doesn’t become energy, it becomes unutilised sugar.

What causes the insulin production or utilisation to fail?

While diabetes can be genetic, it is primarily a lifestyle disease. A sedentary lifestyle is the biggest culprit. Poor eating habits – eating foods rich in sugar such as sweets, fatty, oily junk foods. Obesity can trigger diabetes and diabetes can further make weight loss difficult for patients. People who do not move their bodies regularly or exercise less are further restraining their body from consuming sugar and producing energy.

What causes it?: lifestyle, poor eating habits, genetic, obesity, sedentary

How to control diabetes

1. Control diet: While eating less is a way to tackle diabetes, instead of reducing the potion size, we can also increase the amount of fiber and simpler carbohydrates in our diet. Items such as millet contain complex starch which takes longer to digest, in turn, giving your body more time to produce the insulin and break the glucose down. Furthermore, you should include fiber-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains to your staples. While many people believe fructose is a form of sugar and hence a No-no for diabetics, you can actually have most fruits you like, the only condition is to not have them with your meals. That will be an overdose of glucose! Bitter items like bitter gourd, cacao, and coffee are beneficial in diabetes.

2. Daily physical activity: Exercise breaks sugar, produces energy. The theory is simple! The more intense the exercise, the more sugar you’ll burn. However, you don’t have to resort to benching 150 kgs or doing a thousand push-ups.

Exercise done 45 minutes to an hour a day at least 5 times a week is good to go. You can also pick up light cardio like walking and stretching to control diabetes.

3. Yoga:

Don’t like the gym? Don’t like exercise at all? Don’t worry, Yoga got you covered! There are certain aasanas and pranayama to help you control and even prevent diabetes.

The good part about picking up Yoga for diabetes is that you’re doing more than just that. Yoga is a holistic science of keeping the body and the mind fit at the same time. The aasanas don’t just work on one thing, but, many. You’ll see!

Best Yoga Poses for Diabetes Management

Ardhmatsyendra aasana: The half-fish pose. You sit flat on the ground, legs folded at your knee – the Indian style, and slowly start turning to your right, with your left body along with your left leg going as far to the right as possible. It’s a twist at the hip. You repeat it in both the directions. This particularly works out your pancreas as it squeezes the abdomen. This posture also improves flexibility, posture, and digestion.

Manduka aasana: The frog pose. 

For this, you’ll first need to sit with your legs folded towards your back and rest your weight on your ankles. You start by joining your closed fists at your navel, and bend forward, squeezing your pancreas again. You hold the posture for a count of 10 and slowly rise up, before doing a rep of 5. Apart from activating your abdomen to digest better, this posture helps with relaxing your back, relieving stress, and sciatica pain.

Malaasana: The garland pose. 

You start with a squat, with your knees far apart. Join your hands in a namaskar mudra, in front of you, so that the elbows of both the hands touch the respective knees as the joined palms press against your belly. Hold it for 20-30 seconds. This aasana particularly helps relieve constipation, regulate bowel movements, and smoothen digestive processes.

Vajrasana: The thunder bold pose. 

All you have to do is sit with a straight back, put all of your weight on your ankles, as your legs are bent at the knee, extending behind you. This one is simple and if done right after your meals, it will ensure that the fat circulates evenly around your body. It directs all the blood flow to your stomach to digest better. It also helps with your posture and spine issues.

Heel raises: 

Another simple yoga posture! We start with a chair, sit down, spread your legs, and now start by moving your heels up and down. That’s it! Your calf muscles will be strengthened as they get more blood, however, did you know, a research suggests the soleus muscles in the leg utilise glucose more than other muscles? Doing them for 15-30 minutes after a meal can help reduce sugar levels.


While the aasanas above directly target digestion, did you know any malfunctioning is more than just one organ’s malfunctioning! The body has 3 types of doshas – vata, pitta and kapha. Increases kapha in the body leads to diabetes. To ensure, the doshas are always balanced, one must do Naadi shodhana or cleansing of Naadis (invisible nerve-like system carrying praana in us). You breathe in from one nostril, hold it for 5-10 seconds, and breathe out. That’s it. Doing so will over time balance your doshas and help regulate the flow of s, the vital life force, in your body.

Bhramari – This pranayama gets its name from the buzzing sound of bhramara, the word for Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa) in Sanskrit. You inhale deep , and as you exhale you make a buzzing sound. This activates your vagus nerve, which is responsible for calming us down, reducing our stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, directly increases the blood sugar levels. Bhramari reduces cortisol and increases the flow of healthier hormones in our body.

These Yoga practices will help you not just regulate your diabetes, but, if someone in your family has a disposition to it, getting them started earlier on might even avoid diabetes entirely.

Prevention is better than cure, and lifestyle plays an important role in handling and even mitigating diabetes.

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