Science of yoga is an ancient form of doing exercises in India and is said to be useful for both the mind and body. Yoga has also been projected as a therapeutic tool both to maintain positive health and cure chronic diseases like diabetes.
Obese persons manage to loose weight which is a requirement for good diabetes control. Yoga is associated with metabolic improvement in the form of reduced blood glucose and fatty acid levels.
I would like to mention some yogic exercises which are useful for diabetic patients. These exercises are very simple, need no money or any resources and can be done at home.
Only condition is, they have to be done on an empty stomach, either in the morning before breakfast or two hours after any meal.
“Dhanurasana” (position like a bow) - One is supposed to lie on a mat, face down. Flex the legs at knees and hold the ankles with both hands.
Then while keeping legs stretched, inhale and slowly pull the feet up as much as possible. Simultaneously, lift the face and chest up as much as possible.
Hold the breath on reaching the last position for few seconds, then exhale and come back slowly to normal position.
This exercise can be done for at least 3 to 5 times. Young persons can do this exercise very well and they are the ones who really need to do it regularly if they suffer from Type I diabetes.
Because it is them who have a long life ahead and they need to avoid complications of diabetes and its treatment. Those with hernias or peptic ulcer should avoid this exercise.
“Bhujangasana” (position of a snake) - One has to lie straight prone on a mat. Keep the hands on the mat below the shoulders.
Let the forehead touch the ground. Let all muscles of the body relax. Gradually, lift the face and shoulders up from the ground and take the head back as far as possible.
Keeping the hands on the ground, try to lift the portion of the body above the umbilicus slowly till the hands and arms become straight. Stay in this position for few seconds and then come back to normal.
“Naukasana” (position resembling a boat) - Sit straight with legs spread in front. Then while keeping the legs straight, move arms in the side mimicking the rowing of a boat. Movements should be both in a clockwise and anticlockwise direction.
“Sarvangasana”- (exercise of all parts of the body) - Lie down straight on the ground on the mat. Keep hands on the side with fingers open. With support of hands lift the legs gradually up.
Straighten the back while folding arms. Body and legs should be at right angles to the body. After remaining in this position for few seconds, come back to the pre – exercise position.
“Halasana”- (This is a variant of the above exercise). One should try to touch the ground with feet, bringing them above the head.
“Pranayama”- (breathing exercises) - These help to rejuvenate the body and improve lung functions; improve metabolic functions of the body including diabetic control.
They also help to improve mental concentration. There are about 5 or 6 types of pranayama. But, I would mention the simple ones. One needs to sit straight, cross legged.
Then with the ears closed with thumbs, spread fingers over the forehead. Close your nostril with thumb of one hand with fingers spread on the forehead. Inhale breath from the other nostril and then occluding this nostril, remove thumb and exhale from the other one.
“Shavasana”- (position of a dead body) - This exercise is great for relieving stress and total relaxation of mind and body. Lie down straight on the back with open hands and fingers. Legs should also be spread apart. Keep the eyes closed. Breathing should be slow and deep.
About 10 to 15 minutes of relaxation in this position is as good as a deep sleep of 3 to 4 hours. Because of the total relaxation achieved in this position, stress is removed from the body and mind. This regulates the functioning of the internal organs and also helps in controlling diseases like hypertension and diabetes which are aggravated by stress.
All the above exercises need to be done for about 5 to 10 times. Relaxation for minimum 5 to 10 minutes is much better than not doing it at all. Apart from improving all aspects of diabetes, these exercises provide several other benefits.
Regulating breathing while performing the exercise, i.e. inhaling while starting and exhaling while finishing the movement, adds to the benefits obtained. A rest for few seconds should be taken in between each exercise to make the metabolism smooth.
For achieving maximum benefit, regularity is the key word. Doing all these exercises very well would not take more than 30 minutes in the schedule of a person.
Caution: The movements should be smooth, not jerky. The elderly with stiff joints or very obese persons should do the movements only as much as possible comfortably.
Somebody suffering from hernias in the abdomen, pepticulcers or any acute abdominal or spinal condition should not do any kind of exercise until they are told that it is safe by their doctor.