‘Sugar’, ‘Diabetes Mellitus’, ‘Madhumeh’ or ‘Excessive Urine Problem’ are the varied names for this dangerous disease that nearly 30 million children and adults suffer from in the United States according to the American Diabetes Association. Of these 30 million , approximately 95% have Type 2 diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the count was at 415 million people worldwide suffering from diabetes in 2015. This number is expected to rise to 642 million people by year 2040 when 1 in 10 adults will have diabetes. Year 2015 saw 5 million deaths across the world due to diabetes. Today 12% of global health expenditure is spent on diabetes. That translates to $673 billion each year and growing.
Prevent or control diabetes with Yoga
When glucose goes out through urine in excess it is called ‘Mellitus’ and if only there is excessive urination, it is ‘Udaka Meh’ (Insipidus). Diabetes is of two types – Insulin-dependent and Insulin-independent. The first type is very common. The doctors prescribe insulin injections. This problem of Sugar affects people of all ages. Its cure is ruled out through injections or pills but it can be controlled or prevented through Yoga. We say, Yoga because it is a physical stretch synchronized with pranic control. It is common knowledge that Yoga need not be done thrice a day (but your Allopathy medicines need to be popped thrice a day). Yoga is best, done with the greatest advantage in the mornings.
Diet management to control diabetes
But Yoga alone does not suffice. Our food should be selective. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats produce sugar and pass it on into blood through small intestines on a regular basis. Insulin as a hormone controls the sugar level in the blood. Further, it transfers the excess sugar to the liver and muscles. This insulin is produced by the beta cells in the pancreas which is a part of our digestive system. On the one hand, pancreas reduce the sugar in the blood and on the other, sugar levels are increased by the hormones secreted by the pitutary, thyroid, adrenal glands. In this way if one gland does good, the other does some harm. But for a healthy person, there is no harm for there is a perfect balance of hormones secreted form different glands as health is perfectly maintained in as much as the sugar absolutely required is retained. If there is a depletion of insulin, body cells cannot absorb sugar, and sugar level increases in blood and is imported into urine. Clinical tests of urine and blood determine the sugar level and that of the intensity of the disease. Symptomatically, the sugar patient becomes nervous easily, has reeling sensations, suffers from the problem of lack of immunity due to which even small injuries do not heal easily, experience unusual hunger, suffer irritation, dimness of eyes, thirst, numbness in the feet, loss of weight etc.
Diabetes is among eight mega diseases
From the Ayurveda stand point, Shushruta had included Diabetes among the eight mega diseases. As the saying goes: “Vaatha Vyaadhi Pramehascha”, it is because of ‘vaata’ and it results in ‘prameha’. Founder fathers of Ayurveda, Charaka and Shushruta dealt with diabetes at length. Of the three defects (Thri Doshas) Vaata, Pitta and Kapha, the last gets into ‘amaasaya’ and weakens the pancreas. In that way, secretion of insulin depletes to a considerable extent. Devoid of sugar, the cell bodies lose energy. The result is that the internal parts such as the kidneys and heart are subject to great pressure. If the parts of the machine like the body do not function properly we become prey to the problem of ‘vaata’. Ayurveda accepts that a certain percentage of the causes of the disease is hereditary and to a great extent due to negligence in the selection of food called ‘apathyam’.
Forbidden foods: All types of sweet, milled rice, meat, alcohol, cold drinks, bananas, chikoo, root vegetables, unhealthy fats, yellow of egg.
Beneficial foods are wheat with an extra layer, jowar, raw vegetables like bitter gourd (or bitter melon), leafy vegetables of all types and particularly fenugreek (methi) and fruits like ‘jamun’ (also called java plum or black plum) and sour pomegranate. Maintenance of 60% water in the body by consuming as much as 6 liters a day is ideal for sugar patients though this is contrary to Ayurvedic prescription.
Physical exercise is vital for diabetics
Diabetes rarely occurs in people who do a lot of manual labor. People who do not indulge in some physical exercise and who let themselves become prone to mental stress are more prone to becoming affected by this disease. Yoga is useful in controlling and preventing diabetes as it includes breathing exercises as well as physical ones. Thousands of years experience of the ‘rishis’ has scientifically proven its efficacy. Once Yoga ushers in mental peace, it amounts to having cured the malady half way through. If the exercise does not subject one to strain and drain of internal energy, peace results and this is called ‘Bio feedback’ technique.
Running, brisk walking, aerobics and some outdoor games and sports do put extra pressure on the internal parts of the body and this could lead to higher blood pressure. Some exercises do cause fatigue. But yoga, if the ‘asan’ is equipoised gives the feel of relaxation, freshness and renewed vigour. As with several other diseases, diabetes can also be tackled with Yoga. This means, without medicine and without the risk of side effects or chemical reactions.
Benefits of yoga
According to scientific researche, yoga works directly on the central nervous system and improves the blood circulation and metabolism. It helps strike a balance not only in the pancreas but also in the rest of the glandular system. The part of Central Nervous System in the ‘balancing act’ is very significant. Yoga, rejuvenates the pitutary, endocrinal, suprarenal, pancreas etc. in a very significant way. It is the result of Aasan-Praanaayaam blend. The results are reduction in body weight, dissolution of blood sugar and increase of blood circulation. What else does anyone who wishes to be healthy want?
Yoga Aasanas for diabetes management
Now let us analyse the useful Aasanas (yoga poses). In the first instance, one should be in a fulfilled state mentally and physically. The stretch of the physical limbs and the stress on the muscle and nerve release the bio energy which becomes possible with systematic and regulated breathing.
In the ‘asana’ packages, Surya Namaskaras come first which pave the way for successfully controlling diabetes. The Surya Namaskara ‘asanas’ have 12 postures with 12 salutations to the Sun chanted with resonance and timber to a vibrant effect. The present speed age demands economy of time and doing 12 postures 12 times systematically runs contrary to that. The Jeevantatva Yoga Samstha, Hyderabad has evolved a pattern with which three rounds of Surya namaskaras have yielded the same impact. It could be experimented upon by the other schools to find out the results for themselves.
In each postural asana there are three stages of stretching the limb with inhalation, keening in the still position with retention and returning to the original position in exhalation in the ratio of 1:4:2. In the still position and the retention of breath, one should necessarily feel quite comfortable conforming to Maharshi Patanjali’s saying: “Sthira Sukhamasanam”.
The other important asanas for the malady under discussion are:
- Yoga Mudrasan (Bending forward in padmasan with hands wrist locked on the back in exhalation)
- Paschimottanasan (First on one leg and then on both legs, bending forward and touching the knees with chin holding the toes with both hands in exhalation)
- Bhujengasan (Raising the torso with hand on either side of hip in inhalation)
- Ardhamatsy-endrasan (Sitting with one knee raised and the other kept flat and folded, entwined with one hand turning the head perpendicular to shoulder in retention)
- Matsyasa (Lying down in Padmasan with face upward, raising the torso with inhalation and retention)
- Taadasan (Walking on the toes with stretched out hands and locked and turned upward fingers in normal breath and bending sidewards as in Tiryak Baada and Parivritta Taada)
- Dhanur (Lying on the belly and raising the torso with the hands clutching the ankles in inhalation and retention)
- Chakra (Raising the torso with face upwards on the strength of hands)
- Sarvang (Raising the whole body clutching the trunk with both hands in inhalation)