Managing Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes with Yoga

Snehaa Midha 6 minute read

In Chronic Illnesses, Yoga


In this post, we take a look at some of the common signs and symptoms of diabetes, the rise in worldwide incidents of the condition in recent decades, and how it can be damaging to both our physical as well as mental health. More importantly, we will also discuss how a well curated yoga routine can be a very effective treatment for diabetes, and a way to help you better manage the symptoms of the condition.

The rise and impact of diabetes

For the last 3 or 4 decades, diabetes has steadily been on the rise. The number of patients worldwide spiked dramatically from 108 million in 1980, to around 463 million in 2019.

Experts believe that there are a number of potential lifestyle contributors to this rise, from obesity and smoking, to our increasingly sedentary way of life. The long-term impact of diabetes can lead to a number of restrictions in our lives. They affect not only our physical health, but our mental health as well – patients can develop “diabetes distress”, a condition with similar traits to stress, anxiety and depression.

Despite all these potential problems, adopting a lifestyle centred around a healthy diet and regular exercise can help people manage this condition more effectively. Regular exercises for diabetes relief, coupled with meditation, can prove to be especially useful tools to help control the symptoms of the condition, and allow people to live long and healthy lives in the process.


Different types of diabetes

While the technical term diabetes mellitus is broadly used to describe the chronic condition, there are 3 very distinct types of diabetes which present different symptoms, and different challenges to patients.



  • Type-1 Diabetes: This variant of the condition is a direct result of issues within the immune system. In the process of fighting infection, the body also damages the ß-cells in the pancreas, which are responsible for producing insulin. As a result of the improper secretion of insulin within the body, patients typically need to take insulin via injections to help regulate their blood sugar levels. This variant is typically prevalent in young children.
  • Type-2 Diabetes: This condition more commonly develops in adults, and may often be caused by lifestyle habits among other factors. The variant is characterized by the body’s inability to properly use the insulin that is secreted by the pancreas. While adopting a healthier diet and exercise routine provide an option for how to control diabetes naturally to a degree, patients may eventually need to also supplement this with medication.
  • Gestational Diabetes: This form of diabetes is specific to women, and comes about as a result of high levels of glucose in the blood during pregnancy. The condition typically goes away after childbirth, both mother and child may be more susceptible to developing Type-2 diabetes later in life.



Common Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Before one starts on the path to managing the condition, it’s important to know what the signs and symptoms of diabetes can be, in order to curate an effective treatment plan. These symptoms may vary from patient to patient, but can often include the following:


  • Excessive thirst
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Numbness in the hands and feet
  • High levels of fatigue


Aside from these, some signs and symptoms of diabetes may be more specific to different variants. For instance, Type-1 patients may experience vomiting, feelings of nausea, as well as assorted stomach troubles. On the other hand, signs and symptoms of diabetes Type-2 may not surface very readily, so it’s important to ensure you are following a healthy lifestyle and diet to limit the risk of developing it.  


Yoga as an effective treatment for diabetes

At its core, diabetes is the body’s inability to regulate levels of sugar in the blood, due to the improper secretion, or the improper utilization of insulin in the body. Encouragingly, research has shown that yoga can provide a clear direction on how to control diabetes naturally. Regular practice of yoga for diabetes patients can help improve the regulation of blood glucose levels, and act as an effective supplement to prescription medication.


Improving insulin secretion

Beta cells (or ß-cells), responsible for the manufacture of insulin, are affected by diabetes, with the cells either being mistakenly damaged by the body’s immune system, or gradually losing their ability to produce insulin. Specific abdominal stretches, as a part of yoga for the treatment of diabetes, can help to stimulate and regenerate these cells in the pancreas, leading to improved insulin release in the body.


Enhancing circulation

Over time, diabetes can contribute to poor circulation. High levels of glucose in the bloodstream can lead to plaque forming on smaller blood vessels, damaging them, and affecting their supply to neighbouring cells. Rhythmic breathing sequences can help to oxygenate the blood, and improve blood supply to different key muscle groups and organs.


Lowering stress levels

High levels of stress and anxiety can also contribute to elevated levels of glucose in the body. When the body is stressed, it ensures that there’s enough sugar or energy available to deal with the potential problem, by releasing more glucose from the liver. This can exacerbate any existing condition of diabetes that a person may already be suffering from. Guided meditation can be an effective way to combat this. Specific meditative techniques which supplement a routine of yoga for diabetes patients, can help to lower the heart rate, and induce a calmer state of mind. This helps to better moderate the body’s response to stress, leading to lowered glucose levels in the blood, and lower insulin resistance.


Preventing the contraction of diabetes

Ultimately, our diets and lifestyles do contribute significantly to our chances of contracting diabetes. Ensuring we eat a balanced diet and get sufficient exercise are good ways to reduce the risk of developing the condition. From a preventive standpoint, incorporating exercise and meditation into a daily wellness regime can make people more mindful of their dietary habits, and help people avoid foods that may contribute to the onset of diabetes.


With different types of diabetes on the rise, yoga and meditation can be very effective tools to help people manage and prevent the onset of this illness. Carefully curated yoga for diabetes patients, in conjunction with dietary adjustments and possible medicinal interventions, can go a long way towards helping people with diabetes live long and healthy lives.


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