THE BLOG

3 Ways Yoga and Meditation Can Help Diabetes

04/13/2015 02:37 pm ET | Updated Jun 13, 2015

The recent "Egg Crack Challenge" has gone viral to raise money and awareness for juvenile diabetes research. Another way to help prevent and reduce diabetes symptoms is to practice yoga and meditation.

Here are three ways research suggests yoga can benefit people with diabetes.

Yoga Lowers Diabetes Risk

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, administered either a yoga program or educational program to 23 adults at high risk for diabetes for 12 weeks. The participants did not exercise the previous year, had a family history of diabetes and had one or more risk factors including overweight or obese, impaired insulin, high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol levels.

The yoga group participated in twice weekly yoga one-hour sessions and regular home yoga practice. The vinyasa style yoga program was destined and led by a certified yoga instructor and Ph.D. certified nurse. Vinyasa yoga is a flow style of yoga in which participants move continuously through yoga poses.

The control group received health educational materials including diabetes prevention information every two weeks. Questionnaires, blood tests and BMI (body mass index) were obtained from the participants at the beginning and end of the study.

The researchers found that yoga participants had improved weight, blood pressure, insulin, cholesterol and exercise self-efficacy, compared to the education group. Exercise self-efficacy is a measure of self-confidence to engage in exercise. An increased exercise self-efficacy suggests an improvement in healthy exercise habits.

"This preliminary study indicates that a yoga program would be a possible risk reduction option for adults at high risk for Type 2 diabetes," the study authors write. "In addition, yoga holds promise as an approach to reducing cardiometabolic risk factors and increasing exercise self-efficacy for this group.

Yoga Nidra Improves Diabetes Symptoms

A study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found yoga nidra may reduce the symptoms of diabetes and help control blood glucose levels. Yoga nidra, also known as yogic sleep, is a meditative practice that brings calmness and deep relaxation.

Researchers at S.S. Medical College in India, administered either a yoga nidra program and oral hypoglycemic drugs or oral hypoglycemic drugs alone to 41 diabetics for 90 days.

The yoga group participated in yoga nidra practice for 30 minutes daily. Blood tests were obtained from the participants every 30 days.

The researchers found that the yoga group had improved diabetes symptoms, compared to the drug-only group. Furthermore, blood glucose levels were significantly improved in the yoga group.

"Results of this study suggest that subjects on Yoga-nidra with drug regimen had better control in their fluctuating blood glucose and symptoms associated with diabetes, compared to those were on oral hypoglycaemics alone," the study authors write.

Mindfulness Meditation Can Benefits Diabetics

A pilot study presented at the American Diabetes Association Conference suggests mindfulness meditation may benefit diabetics. Mindfulness meditation is a non-judgmental awareness of thoughts and actions in the present moment.

The researchers investigated mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in diabetics. The participants practiced self-calming skills and seven mindfulness attitudes including non-judgment, patience, beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance and let go.

The researchers found that MBSR practice lowered the participants' blood pressure levels and reduced stress and anxiety.

"There is little research on this process when it comes to this treatment of diabetes," says researcher Joseph B. Nelson, MA, LP, CST. "Mindfulness is not meditation; it's a way to live." 

Elaine Gavalas book "YOGA WEIGHT LOSS GUIDE & COOKBOOK SET: The Yoga Minibook for Weight Loss and Yogi in the Kitchen" features yoga for weight management as well as yoga-inspired foods, cooking and recipes.

Elaine's the author of over one thousand health articles and ten books including "Yogi in the Kitchen," "The Yoga Minibook for Weight Loss," "The Yoga Minibook for Longevity," "The Yoga Minibook for Energy and Strength," "The Yoga Minibook for Stress Relief" and "Secrets of Fat-Free Greek Cooking."

You can buy Elaine Gavalas' books here.
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Elaine Gavalas is co-founder of Simply Centered and an exercise physiologist, nutritionist, yoga therapist, weight management specialist, and healthy recipe developer. Visit SimplyCentered.com for more of Elaine's articles, recipes and videos.

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