Yoga for Diabetes Management: A Holistic Approach

an image of a man writing the word 'diabetes'

Can Yoga Help with Diabetes Management?

The percentage of diabetic patients worldwide is on the rise, making diabetes the third most prevalent and serious disease after heart disease and cancer. According to the IDF (International Diabetes Federation), there are currently 365 million diabetics globally, accounting for approximately 8.5% of the world’s population.

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder where most of the food we consume is converted into glucose, or sugar, for energy. The pancreas, located near the stomach, produces insulin, a hormone that helps glucose enter our body’s cells. However, in diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t use it effectively, leading to elevated sugar levels in the blood.

Diabetes can result in severe health complications, including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. Despite clear symptoms, diabetes often goes undiagnosed. The three primary symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, increased need to urinate, and increased appetite.

Types of Diabetes

There are two major types of diabetes:

  1. Type 1 Diabetes (insulin-dependent): Typically develops in childhood or early adulthood, requires insulin treatment, and involves the destruction of pancreatic cells, leading to no insulin production.
  2. Type 2 Diabetes (non-insulin dependent): More common and typically affects individuals over the age of 45, often associated with overweight. People with type 2 diabetes cannot produce enough insulin, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels.

Managing Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes is managed with insulin, while Type 2 Diabetes can be controlled through diet and exercise.

Yoga: A Natural Ally for Diabetes Management

Regular yoga practice has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, blood pressure, body weight, progression to complications, and the severity of complications. It also alleviates symptoms significantly. These benefits are consistent for everyone exploring the impact of yoga on diabetes.

A recent study conducted jointly by an Indian Yoga Research organization and Yoga Biomedical Trust, founded by Biochemist Dr. Robin Monro, demonstrated remarkable results. Diabetes patients participated in half-hour yoga sessions two or three times per week, with daily at-home practice. The regimen included spinal twists, breathing exercises, and bows. After 12 weeks, the patients exhibited significantly reduced blood sugar levels. In contrast, those who didn’t participate in yoga sessions experienced little change. The study concluded that just 30 minutes of daily yoga practice can substantially lower blood glucose levels.

According to Dr. Sujit Chandratreya (MD, DM, DNB, Endocrinologist, Diabetologist), here’s how yoga works for diabetes management:

  • Stress reduction: Yoga reduces stress, lowering the release of stress hormones like glucagon, possibly improving insulin action.
  • Weight loss: Yoga helps with weight management, a key factor in diabetes control.
  • Muscular relaxation: Yoga enhances blood supply to muscles, improving insulin receptor expression and glucose uptake.
  • Blood pressure and cholesterol: Yoga effectively manages blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications.
  • Hormone regulation: Yoga reduces stress hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol, improving insulin action.
  • Pancreatic stimulation: Certain yogic postures stretch the pancreas, potentially stimulating its function.

Yoga Practices for Diabetes Management


Specific asanas, such as those activating abdominal muscles and organs, can strengthen the pancreas and improve insulin administration by increasing blood supply to various body parts.

Ardha Matsyendrasana

The Yog Circle | Ardha Matsyendrasana Pose for Diabetes Management

Pavanamukta Asana

The Yog Circle | Pavanamukta Asana for Diabetes Management

Paschimothan Asana

The Yog Circle | Paschimothan Asana for Diabetes Management.

Bhujanga Asana

The Yog Circle | Bhujanga Asana for Diabetes Management.


The Yog Circle | Dhanurasana for Diabetes Management.

Yog Mudra

The Yog Circle | Yog Mudra for Diabetes Management.


The Yog Circle | Matsyasana for Diabetes Management.


Pranayamas like Kapalbhati, Bhramari, and Nadishodhan (Alternate nostril breathing) are valuable for diabetes control. It’s crucial to learn these techniques correctly and practice under guidance for safety and effectiveness.

Meditation and Relaxation

In addition to asanas and pranayama, meditation plays a vital role. Visualizing the proper functioning of the pancreas and focusing on it during meditation has shown positive effects on sugar levels.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *