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December 2022

How Yoga Can Help with Blood Sugar Management

 Yoga is a popular wellness practice that combines physical poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. About 1 in 7 American adults have practiced yoga within the past year. Research shows that doing yoga may help:

  • Reduce stress

  • Boost mental well-being

  • Improve strength, flexibility, and balance

Now, a new analysis of the data from 28 previous studies has shown that doing yoga may help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels, too.

What the analysis found

The studies focused on people with type 2 diabetes. Along with taking diabetes medicine—mainly metformin—some also began a mind-body practice such as yoga. Adding yoga to their routine led to greater improvements in blood sugar control than medicine alone did.

What’s the connection? Hormones made by the body in response to stress can raise blood sugar levels directly. Plus, it’s harder to focus on healthy habits and good self-care when you’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. Yoga helps keep stress in check.

Getting started with yoga

Yoga can be done by people of all ages and abilities. But if you have health issues, you may need to avoid or modify certain poses. Talk with your health care provider if you are pregnant or an older adult, or if you have a condition such as:

  • Bone or joint issues

  • Severe high blood pressure

  • Glaucoma

Taking a class with a qualified instructor is the best way to learn safe, correct form. Be sure to let the teacher know about any health concerns.

Pick a class that matches your skill level. As a beginner:

  • Start slowly and learn the basics.

  • Avoid advanced poses, such as headstands and the lotus position.

  • Be cautious about trying “hot yoga.” It’s done in a hot room, which raises the risk for overheating and dehydration.

If you have diabetes, yoga can be a great addition to your wellness routine. Just be aware that it’s no substitute for your regular diabetes treatment.

Find a credentialed teacher

Instructors with the Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) credential have met a widely recognized standard for training and experience. Search for a teacher near you.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2022
© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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