Yoga has been found to have a therapeutic effect on Diabetes and other cardio-metabolic conditions. Most researches have been done in India and a few abroad. There have been some practice related findings which are important to note before we dwell into the benefits of Yoga for the mentioned conditions.
There are certain conditions to be met for Yoga to be very effective as therapy and to reduce or eliminate dependence on drugs and insulin. If these are met, then the results are dramatic. If these conditions are not followed then there is marginal.
- Practice of 45 minutes per day for at least 5 days a week for 45 days and above is essential. The benefits start becoming long lasting after regular practice of 6 months and more. Regularity and sincerity is the key.
- Dietary habits play an important role. One cannot have incorrect diet and lifestyle patterns and expect to benefit much.
- Many patients or participants want a social context to the practice. If they are practicing in a group and allowed to interact, they become more regular. Regularity also improves through interaction and engagement by the Institute and teachers. Once the habit is created, individuals can then practice on their own.
- The premises where you practice should be quiet and more attuned to Yoga practice.
There are multiple scientific studies done and many sources available which have documented the beneficial effects of Yoga. There are also specific scientific studies done which separately show the impact of asanas and pranayama as well. The benefits are summarized as below:
- Visible drop in fasting and post prandial sugar levels withing just 10-15 days of regular Yoga practice.
- Consistent long term drop in sugar levels for those who practice for over a year. Drop in fasting and post prandial sugar levels range from20% to as high as 50%.
- Significant fall in glycosylated hemoglobin and also a significant fall in dosage of drugs.
- Reduction in fasting insulin levels and normalization of I/G ratio suggesting better peripheral utilization of insulin.
- At the end of four weeks of regular practice, there was a significant increase in insulin receptors, indicating better insulin sensitivity and lower insulin resistance.
- Regular practice in many cases has been found to increase insulin production by stimulating the pancreas.
- Reduced incidence of both, Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia.
- Lower incidences of ketoacidosis.
- Lung function improves significantly even compared to exercising.
- Improvement in cell mediated immunity.
- One of the major problems from long term diabetes is nerve damage due to constant high sugar levels in the body. A study conducted at GTB Hospital in Delhi has clearly shown improvement in nerve impulse and nerve function for diabetics practicing Yoga vis-a-vis a deterioration for those who did not practice.
- Significantly better blood sugar control and pulmonary response has also been observed in cases of Type A diabetes and IDDM.
Other Benefits to Individuals
- Reduced BMI, reduced weight to hip ratio and increase in lean body mass.
- Improvement in lipid profile through lowering of LDL, increase in HDL and total lowering of cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Significant drop in co-morbid conditions, especially hypertension.
1) There is a reduction in free fatty acid which reduces lipotoxicity.
2) Significant improvement in beta cell functions and insulin kinetics.
3) Prevents beta cell exhaustion and beta-cell secretory defect.
4) All of the above help prevent Type – II Diabetes.
Yoga definitely helps in controlling and reducing diabetes. In border-line cases, it also can make an individual drug free over a period of time. It is useful in both types of diabetes across all age groups and also helps in reducing or managing co-morbid conditions. It is extremely useful in pre-diabetics and in prevention of Type 2 or Diabetes Mellitus.
The benefits start showing up from between 40 to 90 days of regular practice and long range benefits if practiced for over a year. However, the benefits seem to slow down, if the individual stops practice and reverts to the previous lifestyle.
Sources (Reports and online sources) B.K. Sahay, M.V. Bhole, K.N. Udupa, Journal of Association of Physicians of India, NCHPAD, Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, Delhi, The Yoga Institute, Mumbai, S. Vyasa Institute, Clinical researches of Bihar School of Yoga, Other online resources and reports.