Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes

  • Raveendran, Arkiath Veettil (Department of General Medicine, Government Medical College) ;
  • Deshpandae, Anjali (Padma Yog Sadhana, A Unit of Terna Public Charitable Trust) ;
  • Joshi, Shashank R. (Joshi Clinic, Lilavati Hospital and Bhatia Hospital)
  • Received : 2018.02.13
  • Accepted : 2018.05.09
  • Published : 2018.09.30


Yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is a means of balancing and harmonizing the body, mind, and emotions. Yoga practice is useful in the management of various lifestyle diseases, including type 2 diabetes. Psycho-neuro-endocrine and immune mechanisms are involved in the beneficial effects of yoga on diabetes. Incorporation of yoga practice in daily life helps to attain glycaemic control and reduces the risk of complications in people with diabetes. In this review, we briefly describe the role of various yoga practices in the management of diabetes based on evidence from various clinical studies.


  1. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas. 8th ed. Brussels: International Diabetes Federation; 2017. Chapter 3, The global picture; p. 40-59.
  2. Thangasami SR, Chandani AL, Thangasami S. Emphasis of yoga in the management of diabetes. J Diabetes Metab 2015;6:613.
  3. Liu XC, Pan L, Hu Q, Dong WP, Yan JH, Dong L. Effects of yoga training in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Thorac Dis 2014;6:795-802.
  4. Jyotsna VP. Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus: evidence for effect of yoga. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 2014;18:745-9.
  5. Youngwanichsetha S, Phumdoung S, Ingkathawornwong T. The effects of mindfulness eating and yoga exercise on blood sugar levels of pregnant women with gestational diabetes mellitus. Appl Nurs Res 2014;27:227-30.
  6. Miller CK, Kristeller JL, Headings A, Nagaraja H, Miser WF. Comparative effectiveness of a mindful eating intervention to a diabetes self-management intervention among adults with type 2 diabetes: a pilot study. J Acad Nutr Diet 2012;112:1835-42.
  7. Jindal N, Joshi NP. Comparative study of Vamana and Virechanakarma in controlling blood sugar levels in diabetes mellitus. Ayu 2013;34:263-9.
  8. Shalinee, Mishra D, Kamal K, Gupta AK, Sharma KK. Shankhaprakshalana: a yogic karma for purification. Int J Ayurvedic Herb Med 2012;2:578-81.
  9. Skoro-Kondza L, Tai SS, Gadelrab R, Drincevic D, Greenhalgh T. Community based yoga classes for type 2 diabetes: an exploratory randomised controlled trial. BMC Health Serv Res 2009;9:33.
  10. Sreedevi A, Gopalakrishnan UA, Karimassery Ramaiyer S, Kamalamma L. A randomized controlled trial of the effect of yoga and peer support on glycaemic outcomes in women with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a feasibility study. BMC Complement Altern Med 2017;17:100.
  11. Malhotra V, Singh S, Tandon OP, Sharma SB. The beneficial effect of yoga in diabetes. Nepal Med Coll J 2005;7:145-7.
  12. Madhavi S, Raju PS, Reddy MV, Annapurna N, Sahay BK, Kumari DG, et al. Effect of yogic exercises on lean body mass. J Assoc Physicians India 1985;33:465-6.
  13. Manjunatha S, Vempati RP, Ghosh D, Bijlani RL. An investigation into the acute and long-term effects of selected yogic postures on fasting and postprandial glycemia and insulinemia in healthy young subjects. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2005;49:319-24.
  14. Mullur RS, Ames D. Impact of a 10 minute seated yoga practice in the management of diabetes. J Yoga Phys Ther 2016;6:1000224.
  15. Pal GK. Effects of pranayama on cardiovascular health. Int J Clin Exp Physiol 2016;3:57-8.
  16. Bal BS. Effects of short term practice of Anuloma Viloma Pranayama on components of health-related fitness. Educ Prac Innov 2015;2:10-8.
  17. Srivastava S, Goyal P, Tiwari SK, Patel AK. Interventional effect of Bhramari Pranayama on mental health among college students. Int J Ind Psychol 2017;4:29-33.
  18. Nivethitha L, Mooventhan A, Manjunath NK. Effects of various Pranayama on cardiovascular and autonomic variables. Anc Sci Life 2016;36:72-7.
  19. Singh RB, Wilczynska-Kwiatek A, Fedacko J, Pella D, De Meester F. Pranayama: the power of breath. Int J Disabil Hum Dev 2009;8:141-53.
  20. Gurjar AA, Ladhake SA, Thakare AP. Analysis of acoustic of “OM” chant to study it's effect on nervous system. Int J Comput Sci Netw Secur 2009;9:363-7.
  21. Bhavanani AB, Madanmohan, Sanjay Z, Vithiyalakshmi SL. Immediate cardiovascular effects of pranava relaxation in patients with hypertension and diabetes. Biomed Hum Kinet 2012;4:66-9.
  22. Mohanty S, Metri K, Nagaratna R, Nagendra HR. Immediate effect of mind sound resonance technique (MSRT-A yogic relaxation technique) on cognitive functions in type 2 diabetes. Voice Res 2015;4:44-5.
  23. Jyotsna VP, Joshi A, Ambekar S, Kumar N, Dhawan A, Sreenivas V. Comprehensive yogic breathing program improves quality of life in patients with diabetes. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 2012;16:423-8.
  24. Ricard M, Lutz A, Davidson RJ. Mind of the meditator. Sci Am 2014;311:38-45.
  25. Chung SC, Brooks MM, Rai M, Balk JL, Rai S. Effect of Sahaja yoga meditation on quality of life, anxiety, and blood pressure control. J Altern Complement Med 2012;18:589-96.
  26. Keyworth C, Knopp J, Roughley K, Dickens C, Bold S, Coventry P. A mixed-methods pilot study of the acceptability and effectiveness of a brief meditation and mindfulness intervention for people with diabetes and coronary heart disease. Behav Med 2014;40:53-64.
  27. Amita S, Prabhakar S, Manoj I, Harminder S, Pavan T. Effect of yoga-nidra on blood glucose level in diabetic patients. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2009;53:97-101.
  28. Singh K. Hasta Mudra's and respiratory system. Int J Phys Educ Sports Health 2015;1:83-6.
  29. Vaishali K, Kumar KV, Adhikari P, UnniKrishnan B. Effects of yoga-based program on glycosylated hemoglobin level serum lipid profile in community dwelling elderly subjects with chronic type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial. Phys Occup Ther Geriatr 2012;30:22-30.
  30. Habibi N, Farsani ZH, Yazdani B, Arianshakib R, Noruozi P. The influence of yoga-on risk profiles programs in women with diabetes type II. Adv Environ Biol 2013;2013:550-6.
  31. Subramaniyan TG, Subramaniyan N, Chidambaram M. Brisk walking and yoga as adjuvant therapy in management of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Int J Student Res 2012;2:43-6.
  32. Angadi P, Jagannathan A, Thulasi A, Kumar V, Umamaheshwar K, Raghuram N. Adherence to yoga and its resultant effects on blood glucose in type 2 diabetes: a community-based follow-up study. Int J Yoga 2017;10:29-36.
  33. Shah NJ, Shah UN. Central retinal vein occlusion following Sirsasana (headstand posture). Indian J Ophthalmol 2009;57:69-70.
  34. Innes KE, Vincent HK. The influence of yoga-based programs on risk profiles in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2007;4:469-86.
  35. Aswathy S, Unnikrishnan AG, Kalra S. Effective management of type 2 DM in India: looking at low-cost adjunctive therapy. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 2013;17:149-52.
  36. Bystritsky A, Danial J, Kronemyer D. Interactions between diabetes and anxiety and depression: implications for treatment. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am 2014;43:269-83.
  37. Mahajan AS. Role of yoga in hormonal homeostasis. Int J Clin Exp Physiol 2014;1:173-8.
  38. Innes KE, Bourguignon C, Taylor AG. Risk indices associated with the insulin resistance syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and possible protection with yoga: a systematic review. J Am Board Fam Pract 2005;18:491-519.
  39. Kosuri M, Sridhar GR. Yoga practice in diabetes improves physical and psychological outcomes. Metab Syndr Relat Disord 2009;7:515-7.
  40. Brown RP, Gerbarg PL. Sudarshan Kriya yogic breathing in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression. Part II: clinical applications and guidelines. J Altern Complement Med 2005;11:711-7.
  41. Gangadhar BN, Naveen GH, Rao MG, Thirthalli J, Varambally S. Positive antidepressant effects of generic yoga in depressive out-patients: a comparative study. Indian J Psychiatry 2013;55(Suppl 3):S369-73.
  42. Agrawal RP, Aradhana SH, Beniwal R, Sabir M, Kochar DK. Influence of yogic treatment on quality of life outcomes, glycaemic control and risk factors in diabetes mellitus. Int J Diab Dev Countries 2003;23:130-4.
  43. Ross A, Thomas S. The health benefits of yoga and exercise: a review of comparison studies. J Altern Complement Med 2010;16:3-12.
  44. Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Christian LM, Andridge R, Hwang BS, Malarkey WB, Belury MA, et al. Adiponectin, leptin, and yoga practice. Physiol Behav 2012;107:809-13.
  45. Newberg AB, Iversen J. The neural basis of the complex mental task of meditation: neurotransmitter and neurochemical considerations. Med Hypotheses 2003;61:282-91.
  46. Shree N, Bhonde RR. Can yoga therapy stimulate stem cell trafficking from bone marrow? J Ayurveda Integr Med 2016;7:181-4.
  47. Dusek JA, Otu HH, Wohlhueter AL, Bhasin M, Zerbini LF, Joseph MG, et al. Genomic counter-stress changes induced by the relaxation response. PLoS One 2008;3:e2576.
  48. Hegde SV, Adhikari P, Kotian S, Pinto VJ, D'Souza S, D'Souza V. Effect of 3-month yoga on oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes with or without complications: a controlled clinical trial. Diabetes Care 2011;34:2208-10.
  49. Gordon L, Morrison EY, McGrowder D, Penas YF, Zamoraz EM, Garwood D, et al. Effect of yoga and traditional physical exercise on hormones and percentage insulin binding receptor in patients with type 2 diabetes. Am J Biochem Biotechnol 2008;4:35-42.
  50. Sahay BK. Yoga and diabetes. J Assoc Physicians India 1986;34:645-8.
  51. Bhaskaracharyulu C, Raju PS, Madhavi S. The effect of yoga on lipoprotein profile in diabetics. J Diabet Assoc India 1986;XXVI:120-2.
  52. Sahay BK. Role of yoga in diabetes. J Assoc Physicians India 2007;55:121-6.
  53. Kapur A. Yoga and diabetes. Bombay: Publ. Health Care Communications; 1994. Chapter, Proceedings of novo nordisk diabetes update; p. 159-67.
  54. McDermott KA, Rao MR, Nagarathna R, Murphy EJ, Burke A, Nagendra RH, et al. A yoga intervention for type 2 diabetes risk reduction: a pilot randomized controlled trial. BMC Complement Altern Med 2014;14:212.
  55. Vaibhavi B, Satyam T, Sanjibkumar P, Raghuram N, Ramarao NH. Effect of holistic module of yoga and Ayurvedic Panchakarma in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a pilot study. Open J Endocr Metab Dis 2013;3:90-8.
  56. Cui J, Yan JH, Yan LM, Pan L, Le JJ, Guo YZ. Effects of yoga in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis. J Diabetes Investig 2017;8:201-9.
  57. Sahay BK, Murthy KJR, Raju PS, Madhavi S. Effect of yogic practices on exercises tolerance in diabetes. Diabetes 1991;40 Suppl 1:398.
  58. Hagins M, States R, Selfe T, Innes K. Effectiveness of yoga for hypertension: systematic review and meta-analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2013;2013:649836.
  59. Cramer H, Lauche R, Haller H, Steckhan N, Michalsen A, Dobos G. Effects of yoga on cardiovascular disease risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Cardiol 2014;173:170-83.
  60. Chohan IS, Nayar HS, Thomas P, Geetha NS. Influence of yoga on blood coagulation. Thromb Haemost 1984;51:196-7.
  61. Patwardhan AR. Yoga research and public health: is research aligned with the stakeholders' needs? J Prim Care Community Health 2016 Aug 11 [Epub].