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How does stress affect my blood sugar?

We all know the proverb “Health is wealth”. Another well known golden nugget is “A sound mind in a sound body”. But good health and the happiness it brings is steadily escaping the grasp of every modern person today. The daily turmoil of long work hours and longer commutes make it nearly impossible to enjoy the benefits of physical vitality or attain peace of mind. It is a fact that the speed of modern living itself involves a great deal of stress which creates more anxiety, restlessness, depression and rage. Unrelieved tensions result in both mental disorders and physical ill-health. In the Yoga Sutras the sage Patanjali attributed the causes of mental affliction to the ego, spiritual ignorance, desire, hatred of others and attachment to life. He called these kleshas or “sorrows”.

A right understanding of the problem is the first step towards change. Once we know the source of our malady, we can be on our way to attaining the cure. In order to achieve a balanced lifestyle, we must focus on a healthy diet, regular exercise, positive thinking, unhurried pace of living, and a sublime faith in the divine. Diseases manifest in the body and cause ill health when we get into a cycle of negative thought patterns, squander our precious energies and unbalance our nervous system by consciously or unconsciously coming into conflict with our bio-rhythms and the laws of nature.

Like animals, the human nervous system functions by instinct and is networked to react physically with threats to survival. Stress is a natural default mechanism that enables us to respond to danger, either by fighting or running away. Whenever you experience stress your body immediately receives a boost of energy from glucose. This glucose in the blood stream is the fuel used up by the body, to face the attack whether it is real or imagined. Once the threatening episode is over the nervous system is programmed to refresh itself as we return to our normal routines. But unlike animals, however, humans are likely to remain in a state of arousal, because we go on thinking and feeling anxious about past and future events. We are also apt to linger near our problems and react to present events even while we are in a so called phase of rest. Sources of stress can also be physical, like injury or illness. Or it can be mental, like problems in your marriage, job, health or finances. This is how everyone’s blood glucose goes up and tends to stay suspended at higher levels when they’re under stress.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition when the pancreas in the human body cannot produce insulin. When we eat or drink anything, the hormone called insulin converts the sugar in your food into energy. This energy is carried thru the bloodstream into your cells which either use it or store it. When secretion of insulin by pancreas is not sufficient it results in excessive levels of glucose in the bloodstream. This overload of glucose causes diabetes. When the glucose levels remain constantly high, it eventually starts to adversely affect your body parts.

A person suffering from diabetes displays symptoms like fatigue, hazy vision, excessive thirst, weight loss and an increase in appetite.

Causes of Diabetes:

• Stress

• Overweight

• Lack of exercise

• Genetic factors

A balanced Sattvic diet plays a significant role in managing diabetes and reducing its risks. One should be very selective in preferring healthy home cooked vegetarian food along with fresh fruits and leafy salads. Shun snacks in-between meals, junk food that come out of cans or packets and fizzy sweet drinks as they have a negative impact on the body. Cultivate the habit of regular exercise and yoga to keep diabetes under control. Avoid repeated exposure to stress as it causes blood sugar levels to rise again. The daily practice of meditation helps us in reinforcing the truth about our spiritual destiny and rediscovering our balance and harmony in this world.

Not all stress is bad. It is a normal part of life. In fact a little stress is essential for motivation and effective use of energy and improving concentration. But too much stress and diabetes can be a bad combination. That is why stress management is an important part of coping with diabetes.

Yoga to the Rescue:

India is the home of Yoga and is also today unfortunately the capital of diabetes in the world. Often hopes are raised as to whether our ancient science might be able to find a remedy to the illness. The good news is that Yoga does offer an alternate source of healing for diabetes. Yoga helps to strengthen the immune system, improve blood circulation and the flow of prana or life-force to the internal organs of the body. The practice of Yoga controls the secretion of stress hormones which may get triggered due to a faulty diet, hectic lifestyle or negative thoughts.

Effect of asanas on blood sugar level:

Yogic exercises induce the muscles to absorb the excess glucose in the blood. This causes a remarkable reduction in the blood sugar levels. Further, the pancreas, liver and other bodily organs are rejuvenated and stimulated to function effectively and regulate the sugar levels. Asanas energize the pancreatic cells and coax them into secreting insulin. The stretching of muscles helps to bring down the blood sugar levels. Asanas are known for bringing on a feeling of relaxation, which also plays a vital role in the healthy functioning of the internal organs.

The practice of yoga asanas has a beneficial effect on the whole body. Asanas tone the muscles, tissues, ligaments, joints and nerves. They also enhance metabolism, lymphatic circulation and hormonal secretions restoring the chemical balance in the body and brain. It is perhaps the only natural remedy available to give relief from acute pain. Yoga is the only exercise that does not cause any further stress to the body and brings us close to one’s inner being or the soul. The soul is essentially spiritual in nature. People who practice yoga, pranayama and meditation experience a shift in their attitude toward life. They begin to radiate good health and positive energy once again just as they did at the time of their birth. In this sense yoga is a re-birth.

Yoga helps us to gain a profound understanding of life thru introspection. When attention is turned inwards, it results in a radical change in one’s very being which manifests as inward balance and poise. The peace which fills one’s being enables the bodily organs to function in harmony, which is a self-evident sign of good health, happiness and spiritual bliss.

The results of yogasanas are best obtained when they are executed without exertion, in a non-striving manner and under the expert supervision of a spiritual preceptor or guru. Ideally, the movements should be fluid and harmonious. The ease, with which yoga must be practiced, is perhaps best expressed in the words of Deepak Chopra, a renowned leader in the field of mind-body consciousness, who said,

• Grass doesn’t try to grow, it just grows

• Fishes don’t try to swin, they just swim

• Flowers don’t try to bloom, they simply bloom

• Birds don’t try to fly, they simply fly

The natural poses assumed in yoga practice bring peace to the mind of the practitioner. Asanas can be practiced with any classical music played in the background. They make the practice enjoyable. It is important to be conscious of the movements and understand the limits of one’s own flexibility. Straining beyond one’s own comfort zone is certainly not advised.

Asanas for diabetes:

Paschimotasana

Paschimotasana is a sitting asana also referred to as the 'forward seated bend'. This asana is good for those suffering from diabetes. It is known to stimulate the functioning of the internal organs like liver, pancreas and kidney.

Steps

1. Sit on a yoga mat in a comfortable position with legs outstretched in front.

2. Bend your head to touch your knees and exhale completely.

3. Grasp the toes with your fingers. Maintain this position for a few breaths and inhale when you return to the original position.

4. Repeat this asana 2-3 times.

Mayurasana-The peacock pose

This asana tones up the internal organs like the liver, pancreas and kidney. It also helps to cure stomach disorders, which improves digestion.

Steps

1. Lie on your abdomen.

2. With the support of the palms on the floor, lift the whole body above the ground. The body remains parallel to the ground

Note

This asana may appear daunting to a beginner, but with guidance from a yoga expert and regular practice, the asana becomes child's play.

Shalabhasana- The Locust

This asana helps to cure acidity. It is also known to relieve nervous tension and indigestion.

Steps

1. Lie on the floor with the abdomen touching the mat.

2. Rest your chin on the floor with arms at the sides. The heels and toes must be held together.

3. Inhale and lift both the legs above the floor. While lifting the legs, pressure must be applied on the fists.

4. Maintain this position for a few seconds and come back to the original position.

5. Relax and feel the stretch on the muscles of the back.

Note

Always use a yoga mat for sitting postures.

Yogic Breathing for Diabetes

All life is energy or prana, which descends into the human body in a rhythm. It is this life force that makes our heart beat and energizes the various systems and organs of our body.

Through pranayama, this prana can be controlled. The vital force and life currents within the body are controlled through pranayama. This flow of energy helps to do away with the diseases and toxins in the body.

Bahya Pranayama or External Kumbakha

Kumbakha is the retention of breath. In this pranayama, the breath is retained outside for a longer duration than inhalation and exhalation. The ratio of inhalation, exhalation and retention is 3: 6:12

Steps

1. Sit in a cross-legged position.

2. Inhale through the left nostril, by closing the right to the count of 3.

3. Immediately exhale through the right nostril to the count of 6.

4. Retain the breath outside or in other words remain breathless to the count of 12.

5. Repeat the pranayama with the same count from the right nostril.

Period of Meditation

Steps

1. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes.

2. Mentally chant 'Om' and concentrate on the sound. Thoughts would rush in endlessly, but attention should be focused on the chant.

3. Do this till a feeling of peace envelopes you.
17th October 2013 From India, Hubli

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Dear Vinayak
This is really useful for our members. In our office lifestyle we are unable to even walk and do some exercises to keep our body fit. Surely our members will make use of this Yoga to reduce the Blood sugar level.
Further I would like to ask you one thing. 3 months back I have undergone Surgery in my Lumbar spine with Titanium Implants to stabilize the L4 - L5 vertebral disc. Hence I should not bend forward, sit in floor and lift heavy weight. Now How I can overcome this. Like me there may be many members facing similar challenges. Can you guide us with some suitable Asanas by which we can reduce weight without having any stress/strain to our back.
17th October 2013 From India, Kumbakonam
Dear Bhaskar,
Thank for your valuable post.
As per your previous query.
It is very much possible. We have our own Yoga education and research Institute. We will identify each and every minute thing of body then we will advise the exercise.
If you provide some more details it will be easy for us to suggest. More important if you visit personally most of your query will be cleared.
Now a days so many people are opening a Yoga center and suggesting to do Yoga.
For everyone ask them to do the same asana. It is not like that according our own body strength and weakness we have to do Asana so that it will be effective result.
Regards
Vianyak Nadgir
17th October 2013 From India, Hubli
Dear Vinayak,
The information you have just uploaded on health is certainly very useful and necessary for all executives, professionals who now a days are under more pressure of work. Very simple but very effective suggestions in the article will help to keep sugar in control and thus keep health good.
Just go on contributing such nice articles on all aspects of health for the benefit of us all. Thanks to you.
Adv. K. H. Kulkar
17th October 2013 From India, Kolhapur
Dear Adb.K.H.Kulkar,

Thank you. I will do it. We have some really research oriented article which will help to develop the productivity of company where company can take initiative to develop this kind of Process.

Now a days we are all very much stressed out. How to over come of this. We have some practice technique where they can improve the productivity.

One example I want to share. We are giving service to one Manufacturing industry. We ask them to go for Yoga and Stress management classes for your employees. Initially they not taken so seriously. We keep on stressing them to take a chance. After our classes they realized so much now they are set up a Yoga Center in there own premises and they made it compulsory to all there employees Yoga and Meditation. every morning half an hour class will be there. For new joiners they will conduct 15 to 20 days training program on Yoga then they will put them on board.

After all you might be thinking what is the result!!!

They increase there productivity by 200%. Now they are exporting the products. Employees are very much happy that they will not leave the company.

Employers got two good things by doing this. Productivity, Attrition control.
17th October 2013 From India, Hubli
Shri Vinayak
This is a good article to be in any portal. Before the liberalisation Era our work was not that stressful , still we practiced most of our old sciences of martial arts , Yoga , traditional dances etc ...... post liberalisations and advent of MNC , advent of IT services , we earned money no doubt but we equally earned worries and diseases ..... unstable life , pseudo cultures ....etc etc...
Your article has surely given the glimpse of what we were and reemphasises we not forget them ....it has made me think to restart my yoga work :-)
Good work keep it up
G Murali
20th October 2013 From India, Bangalore
Dear Muruli,
Thank for your valuable reply. It really need of a person who is working in MNC.
Even I worked in MNC for 7 years after that I realize what I lost. Rightly said we earned money. but we lost our important values.
We have to think develop the system in out country.
Being in this organization we get the query from western countries about Yoga. It sad very less person know about Yoga in our country.
We want to start Yoga Tourism for stressed people for week. Let them understand what is Yoga?
Thank you once again
Regards
Vinayak Nadgir
21st October 2013 From India, Hubli
Dear Vinayak Sir,
My respectful appreciations goes to you for posting such a motivational, inspiring and useful article on citeHR.I have been a hardcore morning walker since my childhood and now I have retired since last three years. I have joined yoga classes with the Bhartiya Yoga Sansthan from 22nd June 2013 and have myself noticed a tremendous change in my Stamina,behavior & body shape. The Bhartiya Yoga Sansthan has a programme of all round development which includes Asans,Breathing exercise, Meditation & spirituality inducement. The only thing lacking in us is the PATIENCE.We want FAST result of everything. This is probably the reason that our new generation is tilting towards GYM instead of YOGA.
BS Kalsi
Member since Aug 2011
21st October 2013 From India, Mumbai
Dear Mr.Kalsi,
Thank you for your valuable post.
It is great thing you are doing for your very important health. You should be role model for the younger generation.
Happy to see you such kind of attention for the Yoga.
Regards
Vinayak Nadgir
21st October 2013 From India, Hubli
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