Yoga for Type 1 Diabetes? Try the Best Poses 

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

Yoga for Type 1 Diabetes
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Yoga is an ancient Indian spiritual practice, now gaining worldwide popularity for promoting physical and mental well-being. There are specific yoga poses for several ailments, including Diabetes. So, what are the benefits of yoga for Type 1 Diabetes specifically? We tell you all about it, and also provide a list of simple yoga poses for Type 1 Diabetics.

Contents:
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    How Can Yoga Help in Type 1 Diabetes?
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    Yoga Poses for Type 1 Diabetes
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    Which Yoga Poses Should be Avoided in Type 1 Diabetes?
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    What is the Best Time to do Yoga for Type 1 Diabetes?
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    What Safety Measures to Follow While Performing Yoga for Type 1 Diabetes?
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    Don’t Have Time To Read?
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    FAQs
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How Can Yoga Help in Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which your pancreas produces little to no insulin. In the absence of insulin, your body is incapable of facilitating the transport of blood sugar (glucose) into your cells. This elevates the level of sugar in the blood and results in various symptoms and complications.

Type 1 Diabetes cannot be preventedor cured. It is a chronic disease that has to be managed with insulin and healthy lifestyle habits. 

You may find managing diabetes on top of your life’s normal ups and downs to be a cause of stress. Both emotional and physical stress can be detrimental to your body in many ways. In order to counteract stressful situations, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol as part of the fight-or-flight response. 

This hormone triggers your liver to release the stored glucose to fuel the body, thus increasing free blood glucose (sugar) levels in Type 1 Diabetics. Elevated blood sugar levels increase the chances of serious complications such as heart disease.

So what are the benefits of yoga for Type 1 Diabetics? Yoga can be an effective adjuvant in the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes. Several studies have now shown that regular practice of yoga can help you manage stress, and have a positive impact on Type 1 Diabetes.

  • According to a study, yoga stretches reduce the release of cortisol levels and have a positive effect on your parasympathetic nerve activity (nerves that control your body’s ability to relax), which causes relaxation. 
  • Yoga poses help release the physical tension in your muscles, thus encouraging physical relaxation. 
  • Yoga also promotes the release of mood-elevating endorphins, which reduce stress and improve your sense of well-being.

Thus, yoga can be a part of your healthy daily routine and help in the management of Type 1 Diabetes. 

Yoga Poses for Type 1 Diabetes

Here are a few very easy yoga poses for Type 1 Diabetics:

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Mountain pose or Tadasana is considered the foundation of all standing yoga poses. It boosts energy, improves breathing, and relieves stress.

How to do it:

  • Gently stand straight with your feet slightly apart balancing your weight. 
  • Your hands should be alongside your body. 
  • Inhale, raise your arms above your head and interlock your fingers. 
  • Slowly raise your heels and stand on your toes. 
  • Place your body weight on your toes and stretch out your shoulders, arms, and chest, looking upward. 
  • Hold this pose for a few moments. 
  • Exhale and return to the initial position.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Child’s pose or Balasana helps to stretch your back and muscles around your hips. It helps release any form of tension in your body and supports mental and physical relaxation.

How to do it:

  • Kneel and sit comfortably on your knees. 
  • Keeping your buttocks on your heels, slowly bend forward by lowering your forehead to touch the floor, exhaling as you do so. 
  • Move your arms next to your legs, palms facing downward. 
  • Gently press your chest on the thighs. 
  • Inhale and exhale slowly for at least 8 breaths and focus on relaxing your body.
  • Hold this pose for up to 5 minutes

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

Bow Pose or Dhanurasana has been named after the bow pose the body takes while performing it. It strengthens your back and abdominal muscles and also relieves stress and fatigue. 

How to do it:

  • Lie down on the ground on your stomach, with a soft pillow under your pelvis if needed.
  • Keep your arms by the side of your body. 
  • Breathe in and gently fold your knees and arms backwards and hold your ankles with your hands. Slowly breathe in and lift your chest off the ground.
  • Pull your legs up and towards your back. 
  • Look straight and keep the pose stable while focussing on your breathing. Your body will now be curved like a bow.
  • Bend only as much as your body permits. Stay in the position for a few breaths, breathing into your chest and ribs.

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

“Half Lord of the Fishes” pose, is also known as “Seated Twist” pose or Ardha Matsyendrasana. Research suggests that the pose stimulates the pancreas and spleen and improves kidney and liver function. 

It calms the mind and helps alleviate stress and anxiety. It is an excellent way to unwind tension from the spine and boost immunity.

How to do it:

  • Sit on a mat with your legs stretched out in front of you.
  • Place your right foot outside the left knee.
  • Bend your left knee and bring your left foot around the right hip.
  • Inhale and raise your left arm as you twist your torso. 
  • Pass your left arm around your right knee.
  • Hold your right foot with your left hand, bringing your right knee closer to your left armpit.
  • Inhale, keep your back straight and raise your right arm in the front while looking ahead. 
  • Exhale and continue twisting towards the right. 
  • Look past your right shoulder and hold the pose for 30-40 seconds.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply when reverting to the normal position.
  • Repeat the pose on the left side.

Twisted Pose (Vakrasana)

Twisted Pose or Vakrasana (vakra means twisted and asana means posture) stimulates the pancreas, making it beneficial for those with diabetes. The pose is beneficial for various body organs including the liver, kidney, pancreas, ovary, testis, stomach, and intestine.

How to do it:

  • Sit comfortably on the ground with legs stretched out and your hands resting on either side of your body.
  • Slightly bend your left leg while keeping your right leg straight on the ground.
  • Gently twist your torso towards the left and bring in your right hand over the left leg.
  • Place your right hand on the left toe or hold your left ankle with your right hand.
  • Position your left hand behind to support the body. Your neck should be in a twisted position, in line with the torso. 
  • Keep your breathing normal and maintain the pose for at least 30 seconds.
  • Release the pose by slowly releasing your hands.
  • Gently twist towards your right and assume the normal forward-looking position.
  • Bring your hands to the side of the body, resting on the ground.
  • Lower your left leg and rest it on the ground.
  • Repeat the same steps on the right side. 

The Hare Pose (Shashankasana)

The hare pose or Shashankasana relieves stress and anxiety and provides a good upper body stretch. It has a calming effect on the mind and body.

How to do it:

  • Gently kneel and sit on the floor. 
  • Keep your upper body straight and relaxed.
  • Place your hands on your thighs.
  • Inhaling slowly, lift both your arms above the head with your palms facing outward.
  • Bend the upper body and arms forward from the hips, till your arms and forehead touch the floor. Exhale slowly during this step. 
  • Let your buttocks rest on your heels. Remain in this position as long as you are comfortable.
  • Relax your whole body, especially the shoulders, neck and back while breathing slowly and rhythmically.
  • Return to the initial position while exhaling slowly. 
  • Repeat the steps 2 to 3 times based on your comfort.

Action for Stimulating the Digestive Fire (Agnisara Kriya)

Agnisara kriya is a breathing exercise which is stated to boost metabolism and facilitate the proper functioning of the abdominal organs. The vacuum effect of the action increases blood flow to your internal organs and improves the function of the adrenal and pancreatic glands.

How to do it:

  • Stand straight with your feet wider than shoulder width. 
  • Bend your knees slightly and bend forward, while placing your hands on the thighs just above the knees. 
  • Keep your back straight, your head upright, and relax the abdominal muscles.
  • Inhale slowly, and draw your navel inwards and upwards back to the spine. 
  • Hold your breath and begin to snap the abdomen backwards and forwards 10-15 times.
  • Breathe out before it becomes too uncomfortable. This completes one round.
  • Try to perform 3 rounds with brief pauses to breathe normally in between. 
  • Practise every day and increase the number of repetitions gradually.
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Which Yoga Poses Should be Avoided for Type 1 Diabetes?

Although certain yoga asanas are highly recommended for managing Type 1 Diabetes, there are a few asanas that should be avoided by diabetics, including:

  • Shirsasana: Commonly known as a headstand, this asana increases the blood flow to your head. A common complication of diabetes is the hardening of the small blood vessels in the eyes. This makes diabetics more susceptible to eye damage from an increase in blood pressure in the head. Therefore, it is better to avoid inversion poses in diabetes.
  • Chakrasana: Chakrasana or the wheel pose is a vigorous pose that can increase your heart rate. In diabetics, an increased heart rate is associated with the risk of complications such as heart problems or stroke. Therefore, it is better to avoid chakrasana if you have diabetes.
  • Pincha Mayurasana: Pincha Mayurasana or the “feathered peacock” pose is another inverted asana that should be avoided by diabetics. It can increase the blood pressure in your head and increase the risk of damage to the small blood vessels supplying your eyes.

What is the Best Time to do Yoga for Type 1 Diabetes?

It is advisable to perform yoga to manage Type 1 Diabetes early in the morning. Performing yoga asanas and breathing exercises early in the morning on an empty stomach is beneficial in managing diabetes. 

What Safety Measures to Follow While Performing Yoga for Type 1 Diabetes?

Yoga is generally considered safe for a majority of the population. However, there are a few things you must keep in mind. 

  • Educate yourself: Consult a doctor and certified yoga professional about the best yoga poses for Type 1 Diabetes and which ones are beneficial and contraindicated for your health condition. Learn how to do the poses correctly from the professional. 
  • Listen to your body: Be aware of how your body feels while practising the yoga poses. Start slowly and increase the intensity of the poses carefully. Do not overstretch and cause pain to your body. If it does not feel right, you feel weak or shaky in a pose, always remember it is ok to slowly exit the pose.
  • Consult your doctor: Consult your doctor before you start yoga if you are pregnant or have any kind of medical ailment. Do not ignore if you have, or had any injuries in the past that may have an untoward effect on your body while practising yoga.

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that cannot be cured but can be effectively managed with insulin therapy, proper diet, and physical activities like yoga.
  • Stress causes elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels. Several studies have shown that regular practice of yoga can help you manage stress and have a positive impact on Type 1 Diabetes.
  • Few suitable yoga poses for Type 1 Diabetes are Mountain Pose (Tadasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana), Bow Pose (Dhanurasana), Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana), Twisted Pose (Vakrasana), The Hare Pose (Shashankasana), and the Action for Stimulating the Digestive Fire (Agnisara Kriya).
  • Yoga poses that are not suitable for Type 1 Diabetics are Shirsasana, Chakrasana, and Pincha Mayurasana.
  • Practising yoga early in the early morning on an empty stomach is stated to provide the maximum benefits for Type 1 Diabetics.
  • Consult a doctor and certified yoga professional before starting with yoga. Educate yourself about the asanas you perform and be aware of how your body feels during yoga. Do not ignore any injuries and seek medical attention for them. 
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.

Frequently Asked Questions

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes yet. It is an autoimmune condition in which your pancreatic beta cells are destroyed and your body does not produce insulin. Thus, yoga cannot cure Type 1 Diabetes. Yoga can, however, help in the management of Type 1 Diabetes. It can counteract the effect of stress, which elevates blood sugar levels in Type 1 Diabetes. 

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, which cannot be cured or permanently reversed. This condition can be effectively managed by stabilising blood sugar levels with insulin therapy, diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.

Yes, Type 1 Diabetics can and must be active. If you have Type 1 Diabetes, staying active can help manage the condition and lower your chances of developing complications like high blood pressure, heart disease, nerve damage, and vision loss. However, physical activity can affect your blood sugar levels in Type 1 Diabetes. Thus, you should consult a doctor and take necessary precautions before you start regular activity in Type 1 Diabetes. 

Both yoga and walking have a positive effect on your blood sugar levels in Type 1 Diabetes. They are both beneficial activities for physical and mental health in Type 1 Diabetes.

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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