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Diabetes and Yoga, Asanas and Pranayama

Diabetes afflicts a human when his or her glucose level in blood shoots up. Our organ, pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that breaks down the glucose, allows body cells to absorb it, and in the process, energizes our body. When insufficient insulin is produced due to the deterioration of the beta cells of the Pancreas, the glucose or sugar that is ingested cannot be broken down, resulting in accumulation of glucose in blood. The disease is termed as diabetes or diabetes mellitus. It is mainly of three types: Type 1 is caused due to poor production of insulin, Type 2 is caused due to cell growing inert or non-responsive to insulin and the third type, Gestational diabetes attacks women during pregnancy.

Symptoms of Diabetes

1. Unusual and increased hunger
2. Increased thirst
3. Increased urination
4. Fatigue
5. Loss of weight
6. Irritability
7. Excretion of yellowish, sweet smelling urine
8. Itching around genitals

Role of yogic asanas and pranayama in fighting the disease

The word ‘yoga’ evolves from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’, meaning to unite. The concept of yoga was born in India, 26000 years ago in the Sat yuga or the golden era as referred to in Indian mythology. The union that yoga speaks of is the union between the individual self and cosmic spirit. This union can be achieved through certain asanas and pranayama that keep the Pancha tatwa or five elements constituting a human body, in perfect balance. Yoga has in it, the elements of peace, tranquility and spirituality, and yogic gurus believe that practicing yoga can keep both the body and mind in perfect health by energizing the body from within, and making it less susceptible to the attack of stress, tension and innumerable diseases that have forged their way in to our lives with the advent of modernity.

Yogic asanas can be very helpful for diabetic patients. Regular practice of yogic asanas, meditation, poses and breathing exercises can improve metabolism, stimulate liver and pancreas functioning, thus regulating glucose levels in our blood. The asanas or yogic exercises that can be practiced daily by a diabetic have been listed below:

1. Frog pose or mandukasana – This pose requires sitting of the patient in vajrasana. It is excellent for a diabetic, for it exerts pressure on pancreas, thus stimulating the beta-cells.

2. Yogamudrasana – This is done sitting in padmasana, and this too exerts much pressure on stomach and pancreas.

3. Paschimottasana or forward seated bending posture – The person has to sit on a mat with legs stretched in front. After taking a deep breath, the person has to bend forward, exhaling, touching the knees and reaching for the toes. Once the toes are touched, the person has to hold the position for two or three breaths and then return to sitting position. This asana has to be practiced thrice. It improves functioning of liver, pancreas and kidneys

4. Shalabhasana or locust posture – This asana should be practiced in combination with the other yogic postures. It improves digestion, tones up liver and pancreas and combats the problem of acidity.

5. Ardha matsyendrasana – This is the difficult exercise of spine twisting. It is excellent for recovery of pancreas.

6. Vakrasana – This pose is comparatively easy, and can fetch all the benefits of spine twisting.

7. Pranayama – Pranayama includes simple breathing exercises that can prove highly beneficial. One has to devote at least 30 minutes a day to pranayama. The pranayamas that can be practiced along with asanas for curing diabetes include Bhastrika pranayama, Kapalbhati pranayama, Agnisar Kriya, Bahya pranayama, Anuloma-Viloma pranayama, Udgit pranayama, Bhramari pranayama.

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