Improve Type 2 Diabetes with Yoga

Improve Type 2 Diabetes with Yoga


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


If you have type 2 diabetes, it’s likely not news that exercise should be part of your life. But that doesn’t mean you have to limit your physical activity to biking, jogging, or calisthenics. Give yoga a try, for instance. This ancient practice has been found to help lower blood pressure, improve blood glucose (sugar) levels, and more.” – Denise Mann


Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States and nearly 600 million people worldwide have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type II Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia. Diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.


Type 2 diabetes is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Unlike Type I Diabetes, Type II does not require insulin injections. Instead, the treatment and prevention of Type 2 Diabetes focuses on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes. A mindfulness practice that combines mindfulness with exercise is yoga and it has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of Type II Diabetes.


In today’s Research News article “Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: ), Raveendran and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of yoga practice for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. They report that regular yoga practice, particularly of at least 3-month duration has been routinely found to be beneficial for patients with Type 2 Diabetes.


Yoga appears to be beneficial for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes in part because of its ability to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress which in turn improves diabetes control. This includes reductions in sympathetic activation, fasting blood sugar, postprandial blood sugar, haemoglobin A1c, and anti-diabetic drug requirements. All of this suggests that yoga practice improves glycaemic control. It also improves the psychological well-being of the patients including reduced depression, anxiety, and worry.


Yoga practice, additionally, improves dietary practices and exercise, increasing muscle activity, strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance. Improved exercise and dietary practices produced by yoga practice is responsible for reduction in body weight, body mass index, the waist-to-hip ratio, body fat percentage, body fat mass, and skin fold thickness, thereby increasing lean body weight. This is also responsible for reduced levels of triglycerides, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, and free fatty acids, and improved high density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, all of which have beneficial effects on overall health and diabetic glucose control.


Hence, yoga practice appears to be a safe and effective treatment for patients either at-risk for or with active Type 2 Diabetes. It would appear to improve the physical and mental health and well-being of the patients in addition to improving the control of the disease. This all suggests that yoga practice should be routinely included in the treatment plan for Type 2 Diabetes.


So, improve Type 2 Diabetes with yoga.


“For those wondering how to prevent diabetes or even relieve the condition, a number of studies have revealed that yoga can reduce contributing factors and help patients cope with diabetic symptoms. Although regular exercise can help, yoga for diabetes provides unique benefits that can effectively restore the body to a state of natural health and proper function.” – Yoga U


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ and on Twitter @MindfulResearch


Study Summary


Raveendran, A. V., Deshpandae, A., & Joshi, S. R. (2018). Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes. Endocrinology and Metabolism, 33(3), 307–317.



Yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is a means of balancing and harmonizing the body, mind, and emotions. Yoga practice is useful in the management of various lifestyle diseases, including type 2 diabetes. Psycho-neuro-endocrine and immune mechanisms are involved in the beneficial effects of yoga on diabetes. Incorporation of yoga practice in daily life helps to attain glycaemic control and reduces the risk of complications in people with diabetes. In this review, we briefly describe the role of various yoga practices in the management of diabetes based on evidence from various clinical studies.


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