Yoga Helps Combat Diabetes & Heart Disease

Yoga was developed in India at least 5,000 years ago, but some people believe it’s even older than that. The basic tenet of yoga addresses teaching calmer ways to breathe, move, act, and think. The foundation of yoga practice relies on postures, breathing, and quiet reflection or meditation.

Research has shown that the stretching, relaxation, and meditation in yoga can result in many health benefits, including:

  • improved control of blood glucose levels
  • reduced high blood pressure
  • relief from headaches and asthma
  • reduced lower back pain
  • lower incidence of depression

Diabetes and high blood pressure are two of the most prevalent and deadly illnesses in the African-American community. According to current statistics, 14.7% of African-Americans over the age of 20 have diabetes; this number increases to 25% for individuals within the 65-74-age bracket. When it comes to high blood pressure (or hypertension), the numbers just get worse: 35% of African-Americans have high blood pressure. It’s the silent killer that is responsible for 20% of deaths in our community.

The Effects of Diabetes and High Blood Pressure

There are numerous complications associated with diabetes and high blood pressure, including blindness, heart disease, poor circulation, heart attack, kidney disease and stroke. Common methods prescribed by physicians to control these diseases include medication, maintaining a healthy weight, proper diet, and exercise. But there is another effective method (widely touted among holistic and naturopathic doctors) that is slowly but quickly picking up steam in mainstream western medicine: yoga.

How Yoga Works to Control High Blood Pressure and Diabetes

When it comes to diabetes, most African-Americans suffer from Type 2, which affects the pancreas. Certain yoga postures or “asanas” work to stimulate the endocrine system, giving your pancreas a nice kick-start if you will.

“Yoga reduces blood sugar levels, effectuates weight loss, and lowers blood pressure and the overall rate of progression of diabetic complications. Yoga works because it relaxes and improves the blood supply to muscles. This actually enhances insulin receptor expression and lowers the body’s blood sugar,” says Dr. Scott Whitaker, Board Certified Naturopathic doctor and author of the book Medisin.

Yoga is also a great way to stimulate circulation in the lower extremities; pain in these areas is a common complaint among those suffering from diabetes.

Read the full article by Shannon C. Johnson