Treatment for Diabetes Millitus through Yoga

A growing number of today’s population develops Diabetes Millitus, or are born with it, it being hereditary. Based on the Population Health Survey of 2003/04, 3.8% of people aged 15 and above reported that they had doctor-diagnosed diabetes, resulting in 0.8% of recorded deaths in Hong Kong. In 2014 Diabetes Militus has ranked tenth on the death cause table, claiming 388 lives.

Although western medicine is favoured, more and more patients seek the help of Yoga Therapists to help treat and manage the symptoms of Diabetes.

It is important to understand the type of Diabetes Militus in the patient, before combining a series of asanas, pranayamas & mantras for your patient.

Diabetes Militus are devided into three types:

a) Type 1 Diabetes (IDDM): The body’s immune system distroys the beta cells which produce insulin, which leads to the pancreas not producing insulin at all. Insulin is needed in the body in order to absorb glucose and release energy.

Type 1 diabetessymptoms starts in childhood with sudden signs of high blood sugar and sudden episodes of low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia). The cause of IDDM is undefined and in many cases are believed to be hereditary.

b) Type 2 Diabetes NIDDM): The body is not able to use the insulin in the right way and therefor has an insulin resistance, which may cause the pancreas to develop a deficiency by producing less and less insulin. Type 2 Diabetes is usually discovered during early adulthood and can be prevented and managed by a healthy lifestyle, -diet and sufficient exercise. NIDDM causes includes poor lifestyle like high sugar and carbohydrate diets, no exercise regimes and obesity is a direct culprit.

c) Gastational Diabetes: This type occurs in pregnant women and like the other types of diabetes it affects how the body cells use glucose. High blood sugar can affect the pregnancy and baby negatively and lead to still borns.

We now understand that Diabetes Militus is a metabolic disorder, therefore a Pitta Dosha disorder, and can be managed through a healthy lifestyle, combining the right food and exercise. As a metabolic disorder symptoms like polyuria (frequent urination), increase in thirst and an increase in hunger may develop.

Type 1 Treatment & Management:

The goal is to stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin and therefore we use forward bending and twisting postures, mainly. Inhale before and exhale into each posture, hold each posture for about 20-30 seconds with normal breathing, inhale deeply and come back to a neutral position the exhale slowly.

a) Phadastasana (Legs parrallel to hips, bend forward with hands interlaced behind the back)

b) Yoga Mudra (Sit in lotus and bend forward and over the left leg, with hands in prayer behind the back)
Yoga Mudra

c) Maha Mudra (Sit in diamond pose and bend forward, hands in fists pressing into the abdomen, elbow relax down to the floor)
Maha Mudra
Maha Mudra

d) Ardha Matsyndrasana (In sitting position, cross left leg over the right leg, both legs bent, then twist)
Ardha Matsyndrasana

e) Reverse Triangle (Both legs facing right, keep the hips square, bent forward, twist and hold the right leg with the left hand, raise right arm in the air)
Reverse Triangle

f) Lateral stretches (standing or sitting)
Lateral stretch Standing
Lateral stretch Sitting

g) Plow Pose or Globe Pose (Lay on back and bring legs over the head, hold the back or interlock the fingers behind the back)
Plow Pose

h) Sarvangasana (From laying on the back, inhale and bring the legs up into the air, rest on the shoulders by holding your back to stimulate the thyroid, glands and nervous system)

h) Nadi Shudi especially Surya – Chandra (alternating nostril breathing) should be practised
Nadi Shudi

Type 2 Treatment & Management:

If the patient is overweight we need to start with some cardio like Surya Namaskara and then practise certain asanas with a bandha (energy lock), as our goal here is to loose weight and then concentrate the oxygen and energy on our body’s cells to use the insulin sufficiently and absorb glucose.

a) Surya Namaskara with breathing patterns or mantras

1. Tadasana – neutral breathing – mantra “Om mitraya namaha”

2. Urdhva Hastasana – inhale – mantra” Om ravayae namaha”

3. Uttanasana – exhale – mantra “m sryaya namaha”

4. Anjaneyyasana – inhale – mantra “Om bhanavae namaha”

5. Adho Mukha Svanasana – exhale- “Om khagianya namaha”

6. Ashtanga Pranam – Normal Breathing – mantra “Om pushne namaha”

7. Urdva Mukha Svasana – inhale- mantra “Om hiranya gharbaya namaha”

8. Ardho Mukha Svasana – exhale – mantra “Om marichayae namaha”

9. Anjaneyasana- inhale -mantra “Om adyiya namaha”

10. Uttasana -exhale- mantra “Om savit namaha”

11. Urdva Hastasana – inhale – mantra “Om arkaya namaha”

12. Tadasana – exhale – mantra “Om bhaskaraya namaha”

b) Maha Mudra with bandha (Inhale- chin lock- bend forwards with an exhale-abdoment and anus lock – inhale and come up- exhale)

Maha Mudra with band Inhale
Maha Mudra with band Exhale

c) Bow Pose with bandha (Lay on the stomach and hold ankles your ankles- inhale and pull up- exhale- chin lock- inhale and come back to neutral position- exhale) The picture below shows the inhale process, please proceed with an exhale and chin lock, by dropping the chin downwards to touch the clavicle.

Bow Pose with bandha

d) Cobra Pose / Camel Pose / Bridge Pose with a chin lock & Sarvangasana with soles of feet touching can all be done with a chin-abdomenal-anal lock.

Cobra Pose
Camel Pose
Bridge Pose

e) Brahmari & Ujjayi breathing techniques followed by Cooling Pranayamas are all very helpful in patients with Diabetes Type 2.

Cobra Pose
Cobra Pose

Treatment and Management for Type 3 Diabetes:

As most of the sufferers of gastational diabetes will be too fatigued yoga sequences and asanas are very difficult to do. Patients suffer from severe tiredness, hyperventilation, headaches and acid tone smell on the breathe. The most helpful yoga treatments would be bramari pranayama and cooling pranayamas. Below are different cooling pranayama. Brahmari, also known as monkey breathing is performed by expanding and compressing the belly, with fast breaths, in and out rapidly. Brahmari should be done first and then followed by the cooling pranayama.

cooling pranayamas
cooling pranayamas
cooling pranayamas

Very easy postures like child pose (knees open), half butterfly & full butterfly with forward bending and/or semi twists, bridge pose also can be done if the patient has enough energy. The shoulder stand can be done by pressing the feet against the wall.

half butterfly
half butterfly
full butterfly
semi twist
semi twist
bridge pose
shoulder stand