The United States population suffers from diseases of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease in numbers much greater than the evening news would have us all believe. The American Diabetes Foundation reports 8.8 million diagnosed cases of the disease just last year, with almost 7 million undiagnosed and 79 million people in pre-Diabetes. This is a disease that needs an answer, and quick. Is yoga an effective way to combat this unnecessary killer?
Although the top three reasons for death in the US are closely tied to a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, the symptoms of diabetes, specifically, can be reduced by incorporating yoga poses into your weekly activities. Just how does yoga help you to resist diseases like Diabetes? The answer may surprise you:
Yoga as Medicine
- B.K.S. Iyengar, in his book, Light on Yoga, gives 28 asana as a prescription for those with diabetes, but this practice alone will not cure a yogi from the disease.
- Diabetes occurs because the pancreas does not function properly. There are bandhas, or neuromuscular locks which help to control and regulate the hormonal secretions of the endocrine glands, and other important internal organs. Many of the asana that are practiced address stretching the thoracic spine (regulating pancreatic secretions), but bhandas and breathing exercises called Pranayama also help to regulate the ‘subtle force’ which helps to control the hormonal secretions of the body. When used in tandem, they crate an overwhelming response similar to that often experienced be Diabetes sufferers who control their blood sugar with insulin injections or pills.
- There are no clinical cases proving a complete eradication of Diabetes, but quite surprisingly, yoga practice along with a more Sattvic diet (a Sanskrit term meaning pure diet) can almost completely eradicate symptoms so that both Diabetes I and II sufferers no longer have to use insulin or other medications to control their diabetes.
Yoga for diabetes can reduce insulin levels to the extent that no outside medications, other than the medicine of yoga needs to be taken.
Starting With Yoga Asanas
Some of the yoga poses (or asanas) that help to regulate pancreatic secretions include:
This seated twisting yoga pose is very good for relieving tension in the spine through an axial compression of the vertebral column. Vakrasana is suitabale for beginners because the lower leg stays bent, which isn’t as much strain on the hips, knees and spine when twisting. It also keep the hip flexors in a more neutral position. This action squeezes old blood out of the internal organs much like wringing out an old washcloth to greatly enhance the functioning of the internal organs, abdomen and pelvis. It also helps to relieve a congested liver and malfunctioning kidneys (some of the organs that advanced Diabetes sufferers start to have issues with).
This yoga pose is often called Half Lord of the Fishes pose, is another seated twist that helps to alleviate both symptoms of Diabetes as well as sciatica. Ardha Matsyendrasna is a more advanced asana as compared to Vakrasana- it usually eventually involves a bind with the hands and both legs are bent, drawing subtle energy back into the vital organs.
Dhanurasana ( Bow Pose )
This yoga pose is practiced by lying on the floor on the belly and grasping the tops of the feet or ankles in order to stretch the entire front and back sides of the body as if in a backbend. The pressure of the abdomen against the floor helps to stimulate the purification of the internal organs as well as to relieve stagnation in all parts of the spine, including the area where the pancreas and liver are housed.
Adding the Final Touches
Although including pranayama (breathing) that will slow the heart rate and generally de-stress the body as a whole are also highly suggested, a seasoned yogi, familiar with bhandas should also be consulted to get the full benefits of a therapeutic yogic treatment. There is another way to combat this rampant disease in our society and it isn’t another insulin shot.