(Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes. A V Raveendran et al. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018 Sep; 33(3): 307–317. )
Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disorder that is becoming increasingly common. It is characterised by insulin resistance with relative or absolute insulin deficiency. This can result in devastating vascular complications such as kidney damage, heart attack, stroke and blindness.
The prevalence of diabetes is increasing in Singapore. The National Health Survey conducted in 2010 revealed that 11.3% of Singaporeans aged 18 to 69 year of age had T2D and 14.4% had pre-diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance). Faced with these alarming statistics, the Ministry of Health declared a “War on Diabetes” in 2016.
I chanced upon an interesting article that very gracefully weaves the role of Yoga in the management of diabetes.
Dietary management of diabetes with Yoga
- The regulation of eating patterns, the practice of mindful eating of clean and pure food, and the advocation of greater awareness are beneficial not only in improving dietary practices but also adherence to medication.
- Meditation and heightened mindfulness may help curb binge-eating patterns.
Beneficial effects of Yoga practices
These have been postulated to have beneficial effects through various mechanisms.
- Stimulates insulin production through brain signalling
- Massages the pancreas, stimulating insulin secretion
- Boost metabolic rate, promote weight loss, reduce sugar levels, reduce body fat
- Improves digestion and stimulates peristalsis
- Improve blood circulation
- Improves cardiorespiratory endurance
- Enhances insulin receptor expression in muscles, causing increased glucose uptake
- Positive effects on glucose utilisation and fat redistribution
- Soothing and calming effect on the mind, improves mental and physical health
- Lowers blood pressure
- Better sleep
Go ahead and read the full article for further details.
Remember to share your practice with someone you know who is battling with Diabetes!
As my YTT experience draws to a close, here are takeaways and lighthearted reflections on the past 10 whole weekends.
- I was never late for class
I am occasionally late for work, often late when meeting friends, and almost always unable to get out of bed to voluntarily exercise when I’m off work.
But I never rushed, and was never late for YTT classes. My priorities…
- Daily practice
When I started YTT, I thought that it was already a major achievement spending 12 hours every weekend on Yoga. That would be the most intensively I have ever practiced Yoga and I got complacent and didn’t place much importance on the need for daily practice.
But as the weeks flew by, the significance of regular or daily practice dawned on me. The subtle progress in my practice was addictive. The high I got post-exercise was uplifting. I got hooked. I felt that something was missing when I skipped just a day of practice. Even in the midst of a busy day, I now try to squeeze in at least half an hour of stretching.
- Diversity in class
Our class was diverse. We had people of different nationalities – Singaporean, Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, Australian etc; and of different races in our class. But week after week, our mats were placed close to each other, we shared laughs, we exercised and meditated together. During our breaks, we ate meals together and shared our Yoga experiences and exchanged tips. I think this would be the part of YTT I would miss most.
- Tip of the iceberg
I started YTT thinking that I would be “good” at Yoga at the end of it. I realised now at the end of the course, that what I have uncovered or achieved is barely the tip of the iceberg. I’m excited at the lifelong journey of discovering Yoga that lies ahead, equipped with the tools and techniques imparted by Paalu and Wei ling.
“Do your practice and all is coming” is a famous quote from Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois (also affectionately known as Guruji) that is often used by Yogis around the world.
My relationship with yoga has been a fairly complicated one. Funny enough, it was my mother-in-law who first got me interested in yoga and invited me to her studio 3 years ago. Initially I was excited, and got hooked, attending about 3 classes a week despite just starting work. Then work got the better of me and I stopped for almost an entire year. When I went back, I felt like my practice was stagnating and thought to myself – perhaps I needed a change of environment?
I tried another yoga studio, then suddenly found myself toying with the idea of signing up for YTT in order to take my practice one step further.
As a participant of the weekend YTT programme, the importance of daily and consistent practice in order to improve was emphasised. Initially, I was skeptical and thought to myself – “Who hast time to do Yoga every single day?” Week after week, I would sheepishly admit that I far from practiced daily.
But I started scrutinising my daily life and realised it was filled with unproductive activities. Gradually I got hooked on regular practice. If due to extenuating circumstances that I am home late and missed a day of practice, I would have an uneasy feeling and was determined to clock in some practice the next day. Subconsciously, my schedule started to revolve around YTT, home practice and some studio classes.
With regular conditioning, I was pleasantly surprised every time I noticed its benefits.
- Firstly, I saw gradual sustained improvements in my flexibility.
- Secondly, I could easy get into poses previously known to me without directly practising that particular pose.
- Thirdly, with a general improvement in strength and flexibility, I could surprise myself with new poses that I previously was unable to do out of the blue.
To me, my greatest takeaway from YTT is finally being able to inculcate the importance of daily practice in my own life.
Yoga intrigues me because of its all encompassing nature. In order to successfully practice it, harmony is required between body and mind.
Embracing it means the desire to embrace increased flexibility, balance and strength, in not just the physical, but also mental state.
To me, the term arm balances is a misnomer. It’s not only a test of balance, but also strength and often flexibility as well.
Across all arm balances, some useful tips include:
- Warm up your wrists
- Keep working on building strength – arm and core.
Aim to be able to do several decent Chaturanga push ups.
Feel the squeeze in your core as you hold the pose.
- Try to break down each pose into smaller steps.
- Always focus you gaze upwards and forwards, not down onto your mat.
The variations in arm balances are endless! Here’s to a never ending journey of discovery.