The benefits of deep breathing and meditation for people with diabetes
- International Yoga Day is celebrated on June 21
- Yoga Day Promotes Yoga Benefits for Overall Health
- Deep breathing and meditation are beneficial for people with diabetes
The prevalence of diabetes is increasing rapidly all over the world and even in India. In fact, type 2 diabetes is now reaching epidemic proportions. It is known that a poor lifestyle contributes to the increase of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Conversely, lifestyle changes can help reduce the burden of these noncommunicable diseases in general and diabetes in particular.
International Yoga Day 2021: controlling diabetes with yoga and meditation
The effect of a healthy diet with reduced carbohydrate intake and increased intake of green leafy vegetables, plants, protein and healthy fats and the role of physical activity in the prevention and control of diabetes are well established. However, the effect of other lifestyle modifications, especially yoga, pranayama and meditation, is less well known. At least in a subset of people with type 2 diabetes, stress plays a very important role in its cause and also in the loss of diabetes control in people who already have diabetes. There is also a separate entity called “stress-induced diabetes”.
Stress, anxiety and depression are well known to be associated with diabetes. Indeed, depression has a two-way relationship with diabetes. So, depression can produce diabetes, and diabetes can produce depression. It is here that the role of yoga, pranayama and meditation plays a big role. There are specific yoga sanas that are believed to help control and prevent diabetes. Deep breathing and meditation are also very useful but less studied in relation to diabetes control.
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It is worth emphasizing the benefits of deep breathing, pranayama and meditation. When you do a deep breath, it brings about a state of deep relaxation. The stress that tends to accumulate in the muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders, disappears and you become relaxed and more cheerful. The hormones for happiness, called “endorphins”, are released when you do deep breathing as well as meditation. When you regularly practice pranayama and meditation, the levels of counter-regulatory hormones like epinephrine, non-adrenaline, and cortisol, which block the action of insulin, decrease. This makes it easier to control diabetes.
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Even if you only spend 10 to 15 minutes a day practicing deep breathing, you will find beneficial effects not only in controlling diabetes, but also in lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease. Additionally, you will find that you are less excitable, calm and stress free. So, on International Yoga Day, all people with diabetes should practice pranayama and deep breathing and make it a part of their daily life. You should try it and see the beneficial effects, both on your body and your mind.
(Dr V Mohan is MDRF-Hinduja Foundation T1D Program Leader and also Chairman and Head of Diabetes, Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialties Center and Chairman, Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, Chennai, India)
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