Sangita is an example of someone who triumphed over diabetes through dedicated practice of yoga exercise and diet control . Depressed and worried about the side effects of not only diabetes but also of the medicines prescribed for it, she came to my yoga class. Most health issues need insight into the individual’s life as a whole to ferret out the root cause and then given corrective solutions. Doctors usually only go by the symptoms and prescribe medicines.
But in a yoga class people drop their mask and open up about their life. So it was with Sangita. It was obvious that diabetes was an induced and situational problem. A working woman with two children, she was going through a divorce and its attendant problems. Sangita needed de-stressing, emotional and mental cleansing plus balancing. Diabetes disappeared as magically as it appeared within six months of her yoga exercise regime and diet control. She started with cleansing and daily practice of asana, pranayama and meditation. She took recourse immediately to re-arranging the world, which was under her control to face the world, which was beyond her control.
Diabetes is a disease of high blood sugar brought on by bad dietary habits, sedentary life, pollution in addition to stresses of a fast-paced existence. The estimates in 2019 showed that 77 million individuals had diabetes in India, which is expected to rise to over 134 million by 2045. Approximately 57 per cent of these individuals remain undiagnosed. These are disquieting figures because diabetes is a debilitating illness which can affect the heart, lungs, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, bone, nervous system, thyroid gland, eyes, skin. It can also induce depression.
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Type 1 diabetes is genetic and not much is known why it occurs. Type 2 diabetes, however , has been traced to stress, imbalanced diet with high calorie foods like carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol and fried foods. Consumption of these foods over a period result in obesity and even increased levels of glucose in the body. Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas to carry the glucose to the cells for producing energy or storing it for later use. With excess glucose in the body due to faulty diet, pancreas releases extra insulin to manage high glucose levels in the blood and finally there is breakdown in its functioning. From the above, it is obvious that diet and exercise are the only way to revitalise pancreas and overcome diabetes.
A complete package associated with asanas, pranayama, meditation and some body-cleansing practices has proven to be beneficial in controlling diabetic. The best is to first start along with body cleansing practices of Hatha Yoga. If this is not possible, then one must get expert advice to get on to a healthy diet and take some safe Ayurvedic laxatives for having clean bowel movements every morning for at least six months.
Hatha Yoga cleaning practices
Shankhaprakshalana and Laghu Shankhaprakshalana are both highly recommended hydro-cleansing yogic practices for diabetics. However , both these kriyas must be performed under the guidance of a trained yoga instructor and must be administered in the right climatic conditions.
Asanas you should follow
The most effective asanas in managing and controlling diabetes are twisting asanas as they massage and stimulate the pancreas. You may continue to practise any other fitness regime or yoga that you follow but see that you include the following twisting asanas too.
Meruvakrasna/Matsyendra asana : This is a spine-twisting asana which, besides activating the pancreas, also regulates the entire digestive system and helps burn the excess fat around the belly. You can start with Meruvakrasana, which is a simpler twisting asana together with progress to Matsyendra asana, which requires greater flexibility.
Practice : Sit with your legs stretched out. Relax the whole body, keeping the spine straight. Fold your right leg and place the right foot on the other side of the left knee. Inhale deep and as you exhale, place both palms just behind your left hip, thus twisting your spine and additionally stomach area. Maintain this position in exhalation as long as you can. When you inhale, come back to the particular starting position. You may after some practice, in the final position, do rapid inhalation and exhalation, rendering a good massage to the stomach area. Repeat the same with the left leg folded and twisting to the right side from the body. Both sides make one round. Do five rounds.
Triyak-bhujang asana : Most people are familiar with Bhujang asana, cobra pose. Here we couple Bhutan girls asana together with body-twisting. Besides manipulating typically the spine, nervous system, this asana again twists the stomach area thus working on this pancreas.
Practice : Lie down on your stomach. Place your feet about two feet apart, resting on your toes. Place your palms flat, a little away from the body along the shoulders using elbows close to the body. Take a deep breath and raise your body up to your navel, keeping your head straight and not thrown back as in Bhutan’s asana. Then with exhalation, twist your body to the right so that you can see your left heel over your own shoulder. Inhale, come back to often the centre and do the same rotating on the left side of the body, looking over your shoulder at the right heel. This administers a full body twist. This is 1 round. Do five models.
Supta Udarkarkarshasana : Lie down on the back. See that head not to mention spine are in a straight line and your whole body is relaxed. Join your feet and knees and place your feet nearest to the buttocks. Interlock fingers make the palms under your head with elbows flat on the floor. Relax, inhale deeply. After that, as you exhale, move your knees to the right towards the floor, keeping ankles and legs together as far as possible. At the same time, move your head and upper part of the body to the left. Remain in the full twisted position as long as possible, then inhale and come back to the center. Do the same to the left side. This makes one round. Do five rounds.
Variation of Supta Udarkarshasana : Lie down on the mat, relax your body having feet and knees together. Inhale deeply and lift your right leg till it is perpendicular to your entire body. With exhalation, drop your current right leg across the waist to the left side while simultaneously moving the head and also neck to the right side. Remain in this position for some time. And then raise your leg back to 90 degrees to the physique, drop it to the starting position. Repeat with your remaining leg. This makes one circular. Do five rounds. Initially, you may not be able to lift it to 90 degrees but with practice it will happen. Besides activating the pancreas, this also tightens the stomach muscles.
Shashank asana : Sit in Vajrasana. Take a deep breath and stretch your hands over your head, keeping elbows straight. With exhalation, bend forward from the waist so that finally your hands are in front of you, stretched out straight. Inhale, exhale and inhale again to come back to the beginning position. Do five times.
Suryanamaskar : Add this to your daily practice. If it is a challenge initially, then practise the other asanas for a few weeks. Then as your body frees up, you will be able to start with a single round of Suryanamaskar and build it up to 10 units.
Follow this up with yoga nidra, pranayama and chanting of “Om. ”
I would also make Sangita do some meditational practices. Simple, basic meditation practice helps tremendously in removing the stresses of life and empowers you to face all external challenges. Just a simple breathing practice with mantra chanting of “So” with every breathing and “Hum” with every exhalation helps in not only controlling aberrations like diabetes but also BP and cardiac problems.
(Kamini Bobde is a Kundalini practitioner who follows the Swami Satyananda Saraswati tradition of yoga exercises. She is the author of Kundalini Yoga for All: Unlock the Power of Your Body and Brain. Published by Penguin)