12 Yoga Poses For Defeating Diabetes

12 yoga poses defeating diabetes

12 Yoga Poses Defeating Diabetes

Stand up. Really, stand up. Inhale deeply and reach for the sky as high as you can. Next, slowly blow your breath out, sweeping your arms past your sides and bending toward the floor as you empty your lungs. Draw fresh air into your lungs and slowly roll back up to a standing position, arms by your sides. Feels good, doesn’t it?

What you did was just a sample of the art of yoga, stretching and invigorating your body and at the same time clearing your mind to nurture a peaceful, happy attitude.

Developed 5,000 years ago in India, yoga reached American shores with immigrants back in the 1800s. Only in recent decades, though, has our faster-moving, increasingly stressed population embraced this exercise that’s more serene than sweat, more meditative than muscle. Today in the United States more than 15 million people include yoga in their regular fitness routines. Its advocates range from rock stars to Supreme Court justices, from NFL running backs to CEOs.

Although some people focus their practice more, um, behind –striving for the coveted firm “yoga butt”—-than inward, scientific evidence from the past 15 years shows that this mind-body form of exercise can relieve symptoms of chronic diseases such as cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and yes, diabetes. Even hospitals are getting in on the act. At New York Presbyterian Hospital and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, cardiologists routinely steer patients into programs that offer yoga as part of their preventive and rehabilitative care.

Healing Powers

No doctor will tell you that yoga should be used as the primary remedy for a major disease like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. But without question, what research exists shows that yoga can improve your condition. And like eating an organic apple, you can’t point to a single negative aspect about yoga. When it comes to yoga, it’s all good.

Take the simple pleasures, for example. Yoga is calming for your mind and great fitness for your body. You will carefully stretch and strengthen your muscles, loosen your joints, and align your posture. At the same time, you’ll deepen and improve your breathing, slow your heart rate, and improve blood flow throughout your body. All this slows your sense of aging and helps make chronic pain go away—both physical and mental! And it can be done simply, without special gear or training, in the comfort of your own home.

Then there are the medical benefits. A 2011 University of Pittsburgh pilot study showed that when middle-aged sedentary people at high risk for type 2 diabetes took twice-weekly yoga classes for three months, they experienced improvements in weight, blood pressure, insulin, and triglycerides compared to people in a control group who didn’t take yoga. Those results are echoed in studies that have shown that yoga can assist in weight loss, lower blood pressure, and even cleanse arteries. The reasons are often ascribed to the relaxing effect of yoga; the practice calms mind and body and releases feel-good hormones beneficial to your health.

Although a comprehensive study has yet to be done on the effect of a yoga practice on blood sugar, smaller studies done overseas are uniformly positive: They suggest that a regular yoga practice will help regulate blood-sugar levels and improve insulin receptivity.

Want an example? During a 2003 study, a research team in India tested 113 men and women, ages 35 to 70, with documented coronary artery disease. They placed 71 in a yoga lifestyle program, which included stress management, exercise, and a plant-based diet, while the remaining volunteers took heart medications and followed a more typical Western medicine prescription of diet and lifestyle tweaks. One year later, the yoga group had fared much better, averaging a 23 percent drop in cholesterol levels compared with only a 4 percent reduction among the med taking volunteers. What’s more, 44 percent of the yoga participants showed reversals of their heart disease, and artery hardening was stopped in its tracks for 47 percent significantly greater improvements than those in the control group.

Here’s a yoga routine you can easily try at home.

The Sun Salutation Yoga Routine

What will really convince you to take up yoga is its calming joys. There’s no better place to start than with the Sun Salutations. A series of 12 graceful, flowing postures, they are considered the core of yoga practice. Each position counteracts the one before, stretching and strengthening the body in a different way so that by the time you’re finished, you feel limber and energized from head to toe.

So give it a try. Take five minutes or so, and slowly do the following program. One round of Sun Salutations consists of two sequences, the first leading with the right foot (during stepping poses) and the second leading with the left. See how it goes. See how wonderful you feel afterward. And if you like it, repeat as often as you wish. Yoga lovers sometimes do 12 routines a day, but you can calm stress, increase flexibility, and improve your general well-being by doing them as little as once a week.

If you’re new to yoga, some of these poses may be challenging at first, do what you can without taxing yourself. Over time, as your body begins to stretch and strengthen, the moves will come easily. Remember to breathe evenly and fluidly throughout, inhaling and exhaling as you initiate each move. With practice the 12 steps of the Sun Salutations will flow together as one continuous exercise. Finally, be sure to perform the routine on a comfortably cushioned surface, such as a mat or carpeted floor.

STEP 1 Mountain Pose

STEP 1 Mountain Pose
  1. Stand straight with your feet about hip-width apart and your hands either at your sides or in prayer position in front of your chest.
  2. Raise your toes and spread them wide, then place them back on the floor. Your weight should be distributed evenly across the bottom of each foot so you feel grounded, not leaning forward or back.
  3. Exhale

STEP 2 Overhead Reach

STEP2 Overhead Reach
  1. Inhale as you sweeps your arms out to the sides and high overhead until your palms are together.
  2. Stretch upward, allowing the fullest expansion of your chest, then arch backward and look up at your hands.
  3. Hold the position for a few seconds with your body in pose, holding your breath and keeping your eyes focused and your mind silent.

STEP 3 Forward Fold

STEP 3 Forward Fold
  1. Exhale as you gently bend forward from the waist, keeping your palms together, tucking your head and keeping your back straight and long.
  2. When you’ve bent as far forward as comfortably possible, grasp the backs of your legs (anywhere from the ankles to the thighs), bend your elbows, and very gently tuck your chin to your chest and move your upper body toward your legs.
  3. Hold for a few breaths.

STEP 4 High Lunge

  1. Step back with your right foot into a lunge, bending your left knee and keeping it directly over your left ankle (you may need to slide you right foot back farther).
  2. Lean forward and press your fingertips or palms into the floor in line with your forward foot.
  3. Roll your shoulders back and down and press your chest forward while looking straight ahead.
  4. Relax your hips and let them sink toward the floor while straightening your back leg as much as comfortably possible.
  5. Hold for a few breaths. If it’s difficult to reach the floor with your hands in this position, place I books on either side of you so you can support your weight with your hands on the books. You may also rest your back leg on the floor if necessary.

STEP 5 Plank

  1. Move your left foot back next to your right foot and straighten your body into the plank position.
  2. Spread your fingers so that your middle fingers are pointing forward. Your hands should be on the floor beneath your shoulders, as if you’re doing a push-up.
  3. Tuck in your tailbone so your legs, hips, and torso form a straight line.
  4. Press the crowns of your head forward, tuck your toes, and press your heels back, stretching down the entire length of the back of your body.
  5. Hold for a few breaths. If this is too difficult, perform the move while resting on your knees instead of your toes.

STEP 6 Gates

  1. Bend both knees to the floor (if they’re not already there), then slowly lower your chin and chest straight down to the floor.
  2. Keep your elbows close to your body as you lower your chest between your palms and lift your tailbone toward the ceiling.
  3. Hold for a breath.

STEP 7 Cobras

  1. Drop your hips to the floor.
  2. Raise your head and chest so your torso is supported on your forearms (if you’re very flexible, you can extend your arms.
  3. Keep your shoulders down and back, pressing your chest forward and reaching toward the ceiling with the crown of your head.
  4. Hold for a few breaths.

STEP 8 Downward-Facing Dogs

  1. Press your palms into the floor, straighten your arms and legs, and press your hips up so your body forms an inverted V.
  2. Let your head and neck hang freely from your shoulders or tuck your chin to your chest.
  3. Press your heels toward the floor while pressing your hips toward the ceiling for a full stretch. To make this position easier, keep your knees bent. You can also place your hands on a low step.
  4. Hold for a few breaths.

STEP 9 High Lunge 2

  1. Step forward with your left foot. Position yourself so your left knee is directly over your left ankle and your right leg is extended behind you.
  2. Support your weight by placing your palms or fingertips on the floor in line with your left foot.
  3. Roll your shoulders down and back and press your chest forward, looking straight ahead.
  4. Relax your hips and let them sink toward the floor while straightening your back leg as much as comfortably possible (if flexibility is a problem, keep your back leg resting on the floor.
  5. Hold for a few breaths.

STEP 10 Forward Roll 2

STEP 10 Forward Roll 2
  1. Bring your right foot forward to meet your left.
  2. Gently straighten your legs as much as comfortably possible, letting your hands rise off the floor as necessary.
  3. Grasp the backs of your legs (anywhere from your ankles to your thighs, bend your elbows, and very gently tuck your chin to your chest and move your upper body toward your legs.
  4. Hold for a few breaths.

STEP 11 Upward Sweep

  1. Sweep your arms out to the sides and overhead, stretching them up and back as you expand your chest.
  2. Place your palms together and look up toward your hands.
  3. Press your feet into the floor and contract your thighs to gently pull your kneecaps up (without locking your knees.
  4. Hold for a few breaths.

STEP 12 Mountain Returns

  1. Sweep your arms out to the sides and down, bringing your palms together in front of your chest, and as in Step 1, stand straight with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Raise your toes and spread them wide, then place them back on the floor so your weight is evenly distributed.
  3. Contract your thighs, pulling your kneecaps up and tucking your tailbone so it points straight toward the floor.
  4. List the crown of your head toward the ceiling, feeling your spine grow long and straight.
  5. Drop your shoulders down and back, pressing your chest forward.
  6. Hold for a few breaths; repeat the cycle, starting with your left leg.

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