Part II: CLINICAL RESEARCH ON THE BENEFITS
OF YOGA PRACTICE ON DIABETES
Many studies have reported the beneficial effect of the practice
of yoga on diabetes. (10,11,12,13,14, 15,16, 17, 18, 19). Some
studies have mentioned up to 65 percent beneficial effect of
yogic therapy for diabetes. (11,13,15, 19) K.N. Udupa has even
mentioned 5 cases of juvenile diabetes who were completely controlled
by yogic treatment. (17) All of these studies have emphasized
the possible mechanism of the yogic practices as:
1. Direct influence on pancreatic secretion by rejuvenation
of the pancreatic cells, through alternate abdominal contractions
and relaxation, during asanas (yogic postures which produce relaxation)
and breathing exercises.
2. Reduction in blood sugar due to muscular exercise involved
in the asanas.
S.A.A. Ramaiah's study conducted in Washington, D.C. compared
the effects of walking, treadmill, static cycling, Amarantha
Kokkuasana (Sitting crane), Nindra Kokkuasana (Standing crane)
and Vil asana (Bow pose, rocking, especially side to side). The
most effective were found to be the latter. it was concluded
that the direct stimulation of the pancreas by the postures rejuvenated
its capacity to produce insulin.
Several studies have focused upon why the practice of yoga has
been more successful than other forms of exercise. M.V. Bhole
(20) and K.N. Udupa (18) have measured the effects of yoga on
mental stresses. Muhammad (13) has shown the differences between
physical exercises and yoga. He has reported how doing the yogic
practices without exertion has more benefits.
The mechanism of yogic practices and other exercises is very
different. (21) Yogic practices are supposed to change one's
attitude towards the situations of life, by developing mental
relaxation and balance.
One study focused on the practice of the postures in a slow,
smooth and non-exerting manner. (22) The postures were maintained
comfortably and easily for a length of time and the patients
were taught to focus on breathing or on some infinitely vast
object like the sky or the ocean while doing the yoga posture.
Two thirds of the patients were significantly benefited by this
treatment. The others also showed improvement.
A number of institutions in India offer treatment programs for
diabetes. (23,24,25,26) Participants generally stay for between
two to five weeks, and follow a program of instruction and practice
of yoga asanas for at least an hour in the morning and the evening,
dietary control, meditation and breathing exercises. They generally
become subjects in on going research projects.
RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING THE PRACTICE OF YOGA BY DIABETICS
1. The patient must learn to control and his or her self of
diabetes in a wholistic manner, at all levels of your being:
physical, emotional, mental, intellectual and spiritual, recognizing
the effects of stress, emotional imbalance, and dietary and living
habits on the disease condition.
2. Before beginning a program, measure ones exercise toleration.
Start with simple movements and positions before progressing
gradually to complicated postures.
3. Throughout the program, monitor glucose levels and under
the supervision of a physician, and take appropriate medicinal
dosages as and when required. After several weeks one may be
able to reduce such dosages.
4. Practice in the morning and the evening for 40 to 60 minutes
the recommended series of postures according to ones capacity.
Practice before meals, but after consuming glucid liquids.
5. Avoid exertion, that is heavy muscular activity. Perform
the movements slowly and smoothly, stretching the limbs and joints,
and gently compressing the abdomen, without straining. Maintain
the postures for a comfortable length of time. The maintenance
period of postures should be increased gradually from 5 seconds
to one minute, or even longer depending upon the posture and
capacity of the patient.
6. Focus on the breath during the maintenance period of the
posture, with the eyes closed or focused on one point, as a means
of learning to focus the mind and to manage stress and tension
in the body.
7. Perform the Shavasana, or complete peace relax pose on the
back, systematically relaxing all of the parts of the body, at
the end of the session, or after completing several postures,
if one begins to feel fatigued.
8. The following postures have been found to be effective in
the control and cure of diabetes (Sanskrit names; the English
and tamil names are in parentheses): Dhanurasana (Bow pose, Vilasana),
Paschimottanasana (Sitting crane, Amarntha kokkuasana), Padangusthansana
(Standing crane, Nindra kokkuasana), Bhujangasana (Serpent pose,
Paambuasana), Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand), Ardha-matsyendrasana
(Spinal twist), Halasana (Plough pose, Kalapoy asana), Yoga mudrasana
(Yogic Symbol pose), Supta Vajrasana (Sitting pose of Firmness),
Chakrasana (Wheel pose), Shalabhasana (Grasshopper pose, Vittelasana).
9. The practice of Udiyana bandam, or the abdominal squeeze
has also been found to be useful. (22)
10. Regulate the diet throughout the program. Avoid simple sugars
such as white sugar, honey, glucose and sweets. and eat complex
carbohydrates such as wheat, oatmeal, buckwheat, corn, brown
rice and beans. Avoid processed food and eat foods with lots
of fibre and nutrients.
11. Obese patients can start with different asanas, cleansing
processes, bhastrika pranayama and relaxation. Lean and thin
patients should start with relaxation and pranayama, and practice
in a relaxed manner.(20)
12. Meditation practices have been shown to help the endocrine
glands through relaxation of the sympathetic nervous system.
Western medical research has focused
upon diabetes as only a physical disorder, requiring only physical
modalities of intervention.
It has been able to confirm that regular physical exercise does
have some beneficial effects in diabetics of both types, and
that in those who are geneticallyÔ predisposed to type
2, it could prevent its development. Western studies have recommended
exercise of moderate intensity, as a means to adopt a regular
diet and insulin dosage, or to control body weight and improve
Research in India has recognized it as a psychosomatic disorder
with causative factors being sedentary habits, physical, emotional
and mental stress. Many studies there have confirmed that the
practice of the postures can rejuvenate the insulin producing
cells in the pancreas of diabetics of both types, and that doing
the postures in a relaxed manner, without exertion, yogic meditation
and breathing help most patients to control the causes of diabetes.
1. Siscovick, D.S., Laporte, R.E., Newman,
J.M. "The disease-specific
benefits and risks of physical activity and exercise", Public
Health Report, March/April 1985, 100, 2: 180-188.
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Sports Medicine, May/June 1984, 1: 205-233.
3. Campaigne, B.N. et al., "The effect of physical training
on blood lipid profiles in adolescents with insulin-dependent
diabetes mellitus", The Physician and Sportsmedicine, Dec.
1985, 13,12: 83-89.
4. Laporte, R.E. et all, "Pittsburgh insulin-dependent
diabetes mellitus morbidity and mortality study: physical activity
and diabetic complications" Pediatrics, Dec. 1986, 78: 1027-1033.
5. Richter, E.A., Galbo, H., "Diabetes, insulin and exercise",
Sports Medicine, July/august 1986, 3,4: 275-288
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Medical Clinics of North America, Jan. 1985, 69, 1: 145-157.
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American Journal of Medicine", 1981, 70: 201-209
8. Nadeau, Andre "L'activite physicque chez le diabetique",
Federation des medecins omnipraticens du Quebec, Congres "L'omnipraticien
et le sport", Quebec, 15 et 16 mai 1986, 12p.
9. American College of Sports Medicine, "Guidelines
for exercise testing and prescription, 3rd edition, Philadelphia,
Lea and Febiger, 1986, 175 p.
10. Desai, B.P. "Influence of yogic treatment on serum
lipase activity in diabetics". Yoga Mimamsa Vol. XXIII,
No. 3 & 4, p. 1 to 8, Jan. 1985
11. Divekar, M.V. and Bhat "Effect of yoga therapy in diabetes
and obesity", Clinical diabetes update 1981, Diab. Assoc.
12. Koshti et al. "Electrophoretic
pattern of serum proteins in diabetes mellitus as influenced
by physical exercises (Yogasanas),
Journal of the Mysore Medical Assoc. 36; p. 64, July 1972
13. Mohammad U. et al. "glucose tolerance and insulin therapy
after yoga in diabetes mellitus", Dept. of Medicine and
Diabetology, Govt. Stanley Hospital, Madras (unpublished)
14. Patel C. H., "Yoga and Biofeedback in the management
of hypertension", The Lancet Nov. 10, p. 1053-1055, 1973
15. Rugmini, P.S. and Sinha, R.N. "Effect of yoga therapy
in Diabetes mellitus", Seminar on yoga, Science and man,
C.C., R.I. M.Hl, p. 175-189, 1976
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Bajay, J.S. "Diabetes mellitus in developing countries",
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17. Tulpule, T.H. "Yogic exercises
and diabetes Mellitus (Madhumeh), Journal of Diab. Assoc. India
Vol. 17, April 1977.
18. Udupa, K.N. "Stress and its management by yoga",
19. Ramaiah, S.A.A., "Yoga Therapy for Diabetes: Washington,
D.C. Study", International Conference on Traditional Medicine,
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Nadu, Madras, India
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p. 74-96, Ed. 1985 by Kanchan Prakashan Kaivalyadhama, Lonavla.
22. Gore, M.M. "Yogic Treatment for Diabetes", Yoga
Mimamsa Vol. XXVI, no. 3& 4 pp. 130 to 145 Oct. 1987, Jan.
23. Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, Bihar, India under the direction
of Dr. Shankardevananda MBBS
24. Vivekananda Kendra Yogas, Eknath Bhavan, no. 19, Gavipuram
Circle, Bangalore, 560019, India. Tel. 0091-80-6597347 or 660.8645;
fax: 0091-80-66-8645 or 667.3446 or 661.0666 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
25. The Yoga Institute, Prabhat Colony, Santacruz, (East) Bombay
26. Kaivalyadhama Institute, Lonalva,
India 410403 27. Shankardevananda, Dr. Swami, MBBS, "Yogic Management of Asthma and Diabetes",
Bihar School of Yoga", Munger, Bihar, India pg. 76, 163-167
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