Yoga & Insulin

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, a gland located behind your stomach.

What does it do?

  • Insulin helps your body turn blood sugar (glucose) into energy.
  • Insulin helps balance your blood glucose levels, by
  • Signaling your body to store the excess glucose in your liver and release when your blood glucose levels decrease.

How does it work?

  • Regulate blood sugar levels. After you eat, your blood sugar rises, which triggers your pancreas to release insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin travels through the blood to your body’s cell and causes the cells throughout your body to absorb the glucose. Thereafter, the cells convert glucose into energy.
  • Store excess glucose for energy. After you eat, when the insulin levels are high, the excess glucose is stored in the liver in the form of glycogen. Between meals, when insulin levels are low, the liver releases glycogen into the bloodstream in the form of glucose. This keeps blood sugar levels within a narrow range.
  • Without insulin, your body can’t use or store glucose for energy. Instead, the glucose stays in your blood -> cause diabetes

Understanding diabetes

Type I

Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM)

Type II

(Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM)

Usually occurs during childhood

Usually occurs during adulthood

Body does not produce sufficient insulin

Body does not respond to insulin production

Caused by the destruction of β-cells (autoimmune)

Caused by the down-regulation of insulin receptors

Requires insulin injection to regulate blood glucose

Controlled by managing diet and lifestyle

How we can manage?

Through Yoga Asanas

  • Rejuvenating pancreatic cells. Yoga postures that aid relaxation stretch the pancreas, which can stimulate the production of insulin-producing beta cells. E.g. Paschimattanasana, Halasana, Parivritta Utkatasana
  • Exercising the muscles. Yoga increases glucose uptake by muscular cells, which in turn helps to lower blood sugar levels, improve circulation and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. E.g. Surya Namaskara A, Surya Namaskara B
  • Increasing blood flow. Yoga practice helps to increase the blood supply to parts of the body, allowing the body to better absorb insulin (at the injection site for Type I) E.g. Salamaba Sarvangasana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Through Yoga Mudras

  • Surya Mudra. Gesture to improve insulin secretion
  • Apana Mudra. Gesture of detoxification
  • Prana Mudra. Gesture to strengthen immunity
  • Linga Mudra. Gesture to lower blood sugar level
  • Gyan Mudra. Gesture of relaxation


Through Pranayama & Meditation

  • Stress management is one of the keys of diabetes treatment. When we’re stressed, our blood sugar levels increase and elevated blood sugar levels increase the chances of diabetes and even serious complications such as heart disease. Studies show that yoga can reduce stress-related hyperglycemia and have a positive effect on blood glucose control.
  • E.g. Anuloma Viloma breathing (alternate nostril breathing) A deep breathing technique to increase the circulation of oxygenated blood to the brain.