Yoga and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus


The number of people with diabetes has reached 4.7 million in the UK and world diabetes cases are expected to jump 55% by 2035.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is often associated with obesity and tends to be diagnosed in older people but potentially everyone is at risk of developing this disease.

Why is everyone at risk potentially of developing T2DM?

T2DM is associated with many imbalances and one of which is a decrease in heart rate variability (HRV) and there is increasing evidence that physiological and psychological stress contributes to a decrease in HRV, regardless of if you are obese or otherwise.

What is HRV?

HRV is the variation between your faster heat beat and your slower heart beat. The faster heart beat is one branch of your autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the slower heart beat is the second branch. We need both and the higher the variation, the higher our HRV indicating a more balanced ANS.  A more balanced ANS meaning our bodies can function better in all respects.

If we have periods of prolonged stress, our heat rate is faster for a more prolonged period, our HRV is lower and the ANS is imbalanced.

Why does low HRV increase our risk of type T2DM?

Studies indicate that a low HRV impairs the body’s ability to process and store glucose. If our HRV is high and our ANS is balanced, the body will reduce the blood glucose levels by releasing insulin from the pancreas. If our HRV is low then there is lower insulin production and higher glucose in the blood as a result.

Practising yoga and the yoga4health programme is proven to increase HRV and therefore help those that are at risk of developing the disease.

How does yoga improve HRV?

Yoga is not only a physical practice.  The physical practice is one aspect and is extremely valuable and effective as the body is the gateway to the mind.  By moving more mindfully and by being aware of our breath as we practice, we are able to better control our mind and alter our state of being.  We still the chatter and get out of the thinking mind.

By focusing on our breath we calm our mind and remain calm despite maybe feeling challenged, thereby strengthening our HRV.  We use different yoga poses and breathing techniques to further strengthen our bodies and our nervous system.  Every yoga includes relaxation which further strengthens the parasympathetic branch of our nervous system (PNS) and slows the heart rate.

We then take this learning from the mat and into our everyday lives.  Changing our perspectives and becoming less reactive resulting in less everyday stress and turmoil.  We have more resilience and self control.  The practice of yoga is compounded, so from using yoga as a tool to re-baseline we then use yoga as a tool to sustain - continuing to ensure our HRV stays high and we remain at optimal health.

Are you ready for another approach to your health and well-being?

Yoga practitioners and those undertaking the Yoga4Health are feeling empowered as they understand more and improve their health and well-being with yoga.

The Yoga4Health protocol's content is all evidence-based and drawn from many randomised control trials and using the expertise of leading yoga for health practitioners including Professor Sat Bir Khalsa from Harvard, Dr Robin Monro and Heather Mason.

The Yoga4Health 10 week programme is available nationally. Find out more about up coming courses in Woking, Guildford and Brighton & Hove by emailling For other courses being run nationally email


The principal and practices of yoga in healthcare - handspring publishing

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