- International Yoga Day is observed on June 21
- Yoga day promotes the benefits of yoga for overall health
- Deep breathing and meditation are beneficial for people with diabetes
The prevalence of diabetes is rising rapidly all over the world and even in India. Indeed, type-2 diabetes is now reaching epidemic proportions. It is known that poor lifestyle contributes to the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Conversely, modifying one's lifestyle can help to reduce the burden of these non-communicable diseases in general and diabetes in particular.
International Yoga Day 2021: Controlling diabetes with yoga and meditation
The effect of healthy diet with reduced carbohydrate intake and increased intake of green leafy vegetables, plant, protein and healthy fats and the role of physical activity in prevention and control of diabetes are well established. However, the effect of other lifestyle modifications, particularly, yoga, pranayama and meditation are less well known. At least in a subset of people with type-2 diabetes, stress plays a very important role in its causation and also in making the diabetes go out of control in those with already established diabetes. There is also a separate entity called 'stress induced diabetes'.
Stress, anxiety and depression are well known to be associated with diabetes. Indeed, depression has a bidirectional relation with diabetes. Thus, depression can produce diabetes and diabetes can produce depression. It is here that the role of yoga, pranayama and meditation plays a big role. There are specific yoga sanas which are believed to help to control and to prevent diabetes. Deep breathing and meditation are also very useful but less studied in relation to diabetes control.
It is worth emphasising the benefits of deep breathing, pranayama and meditation. When one does deep breathing, it brings in a state of deep relaxation. The stress which tends to accumulate in the muscles, particularly in the neck and on one's shoulders, disappears and one becomes relaxed and more cheerful. Happy hormones, known as 'endorphins' are released when you do deep breathing as well as meditation. When you practice pranayama and meditation regularly, the levels of counter regulatory hormones like adrenaline, non-adrenaline and cortisol, which block the action of insulin come down. This makes control diabetes easier.
Even if you devote just 10 - 15 minutes a day to practice deep breathing, you will find beneficial effects, not only in controlling diabetes, but also in reducing blood pressure and preventing heart disease. Moreover, you will find that you are less excitable, calm and stress free. Hence, on the occasion of International Yoga Day, everyone with diabetes should practice pranayama and deep breathing and make it a part of their daily living. You should try it and see the beneficial effects, both on your body and your mind.
(Dr. V Mohan is Head of MDRF-Hinduja Foundation T1D program and also Chairman & Chief of Diabetology, Dr. Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Centre & President, Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, Chennai, India)
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