Yoga and Diabetes
Yoga is an excellent addition to any diabetes management program, whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Not only are yoga poses a generally safe way to stretch, but yoga can help connect your body and mind and promote overall health.
Unlike any other exercise, yoga involves a unique set of poses (called asanas), breathing exercises (called pranayama), and meditation techniques that can help you deal with diabetes.
Below are some of yoga's many benefits:
- Decreases stress, which may help make blood glucose levels more manageable in people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes
- Decreases your risk of injury from daily activities
- Helps promote relaxation and a feeling of wellness
- Improves balance, strength, and coordination
- Increases range of motion
- Keeps your joints flexible and healthy
Yoga also teaches you how to cope with your condition because it gives you the tools to put you in greater control of your diabetes. Breathing and meditation techniques can be especially powerful in helping you maintain a positive attitude.
Finding a Yoga Class Near You
Yoga has become such a popular form of exercise that you can attend a yoga class at your local gym, yoga studio, or community college.
Something to keep in mind when you're in a group yoga class, though, is that there's no need to pay attention to the person on the mat next to you—just concentrate on what your body and mind are telling you.
If you aren't comfortable attending a yoga class, you can work with a yoga instructor who can give you private lessons. He or she can coach you through yoga poses that are beneficial for people with diabetes.
Look for a certified or registered yoga teacher that has at least 200 hours of yoga training. Some yoga teachers also specialize in teaching people with certain conditions, such as diabetes.
Another way to learn yoga is by renting or buying yoga DVDs. There are so many options available, but stick with the basics. Try a beginner yoga DVD, which will break down yoga poses. When you're more familiar with the poses, you can try more advanced DVDs.
Beginning a Yoga Program
What's great about yoga is that it can be modified to fit your needs, your lifestyle, and your fitness level. You'll learn that in yoga, there's absolutely no need to rush to learn the poses, breathing, or meditation techniques. Go at your own pace.
Because yoga is a form of exercise, have a conversation with your doctor before beginning a yoga program. Yoga isn't meant to replace aerobic exercise or a weight lifting routine. Instead, you should try to incorporate yoga into a well-rounded exercise program that can help you manage diabetes.