The Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes Management

Exercise is an important part of diabetes management, and the role of yoga in type 2 diabetes management is to help getting exercise into your daily routine easier. Regular exercise helps regulate blood sugar levels, improve weight control, and boost good feelings. Many diabetics may choose to skip exercise for reasons like; low blood sugar issues with exercise, lack of time, and health issues. Getting in exercise daily will help your overall condition and yoga is a good way to gently give your body what it needs overall. This article explains how yoga can help you manage your diabetes, yoga positions that are helpful for diabetics, and other diabetic exercise tips to help you get started. Remember to always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

The Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes Management: How it Works

The Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes Management

 There are yoga positions that can help increase the function of your pancreas to help improve it release insulin at the appropriate times. Yoga works specifically by helping improve blood flow and get needed oxygen to the cells in the pancreas. Yoga can also increase blood flow to the; hands, fingers, legs, and feet reducing the risk of diabetic complications due to poor blood flow to the nerves and blood vessels in these areas. You will also have an increased sense of well-being, better sleep, and more energy throughout your day. This gentle form of exercise will also help your body move glucose into your cells where it is needed instead of remaining in the bloodstream where it causes damage.

What is Yoga?

What is Yoga

Yoga is a form of exercise that began in India in ancient times. It is designed to bring together the body, mind, and the spirit. Yoga is actually practiced as part of the Hindu faith in order to reach higher spiritual awareness, but also found in many other religions.

Yoga is a series of controlled movements and stretching to increase balance, body posture, and blood flow. Meditative breathing also helps connect the mind and bring peace. The sessions are started by sitting cross legged on the floor and going into breathing patterns to relax you. The routine then takes you into the positions that are held for certain amounts of time. The role of yoga in type 2 diabetes management helps:

  • Improve Blood Sugar Control
  • Improve Circulation
  • Relaxation
  • Reduced Stress (Helps lower stress hormones that raise blood sugar)
  • Better Flexibility
  • Increase in Energy Levels
  • Reduced Pain
  • Lowered Blood Pressure

These are just a few of the many benefits yoga has on your body. It can be a safe and effective exercise routine and many yoga studios specialize in “gentle yoga” or “beginner yoga” classes that help you work into your new routine.

Starting a Yoga Program for Diabetes

It is important to check with your doctor and let him or her know that you wish to use yoga for exercise. You can also ask your diabetic educator for recommendations on studios in your area that specialize in working with diabetics or people with chronic health conditions. When you start yoga, you will need to start with the simple postures and go easy at first. You won’t want to overstretch or over exert yourself with this type of exercise. It is better to do easy and smooth movements, only staying as far into the posture as long as you are comfortable. You can increase the time as tolerated.

It is important to always check your blood sugar before starting your yoga routine. Eat a snack before you begin if your blood sugar is lower than normal. The best time for yoga is in the morning before you eat breakfast, when blood sugars tend to be higher.

Good “Asanas” Positions for Diabetics

  1. Yoga Breathing or Pranayama

Yoga begins with breathing, continues through the breathing, and ends with breathing. This is because the breath gives us our life energy or Prana. You will be doing very controlled breathing that goes deep down. It helps to purify your body and nourish it with oxygen during your yoga routine and can be continued throughout your day.

Here is a good breathing exercise to start with:

Sohum or Ocean Wave

Sit crossed legged in a comfortable position. Place one hand on your abdomen and one on your chest. Take in a long and deep breath through your nose, inflating your diaphragm until it stretches as far as it can.

Hold the breath for 2 to 3 seconds, and then exhale. Do this slowly 8 to 10 times before beginning your poses.

  1. Tree Pose or Vrikshasana

The tree pose can help stimulate the pancreas to help it secrete insulin better. It stretches the entire body from root to crown and helps you learn balance.

Get on your floor mat and stand up. Try to be as straight as possible and feet together. Place your hands together in a prayer position and bring your left foot up and rest it on your right inner thigh. Keep your knee out to the side as much as possible. If possible your left toe should be pointing down to the floor.

Take your hands while still in prayer position and stretch them up to the ceiling over your head. Keep your elbows slightly bent. Keep standing straight, but in a relaxed manner. Hold the pose for 3 to 5 seconds. Bring hands back down to center chest.

Remember to keep breathing through the position. Take your left leg and slowly bring it back down to the floor. Bring your right foot up and rest it on your left inner thigh, toe pointing down to the floor. Take your hands and stretch them up over your head with elbows slightly bent. Keep breathing and hold pose 3 to 5 seconds. Lower hands to center chest position, then lower foot to the floor.

  1. Plough Pose or Halasana

The plough pose is very good for bringing blood flow to the pancreas. The muscle action in this pose gives a type of massage to your kidneys, liver, spleen and pancreas. It gives your abdominal muscles needed strength and can help clear the mind.

Get on your back and lie flat, arms next to you. Keep your palms flat on the floor. Inhale deeply and bend your knees and lift your feet and legs up off the floor. Stretch your legs straight and push down with your hands, while lifting your hips up off the floor.

Continue your breathing while bringing your legs up over your head and toes down to the floor behind your head. Try to keep your back as straight as possible. Hold the pose, relax into the position and breath.

After a count to 5, raise your legs back to a normal position while exhaling. Rest for a few seconds, then repeat if you can.


 The role of yoga in type 2 diabetes management is to help you connect your mind, body, and spirit in gentle exercise. It can help stimulate your pancreas and increase the blood sugar into your cells for increased vitality.



Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.

Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.

Dr Kethu is a practicing Gastroenterologist. He is a healthcare and real estate entrepreneur. He writes frequently on topics related to health care, healthy living, and physical fitness. He is the author of Amazon’s best-selling book, “The IBS Guide”. He is an avid marathon runner and is on track to finish his 100th marathon in 2024.

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