Finding out that you have Diabetes can cause anxiety and restlessness. One might start feeling that there is no going back and that life ahead will be filled with medications and giving up on favourite food. Also known as the silent killer, it takes away a lot from people with diabetes in terms of how one leads their life and the number of restrictions labelled upon them.
‘What should I consume for breakfast? Should I start walking every day?’ - even the simplest questions seem difficult to answer. This is where Kumbhaka Pranayama can help you relieve mental anguish and maintain your health.
A form of breath retention, Kumbhaka, is considered the most impactful aspect of pranayama. It is a type of yogic breathing technique where the human body is compared to a pot with two openings and is a practice that needs serious investment in terms of effort and punctuality.
Yes, you read that correctly - Kumbhaka can be performed in two different ways - Antara and Bahya, which translates to interior and exterior in Sanskrit. The most common type of Kumbhaka is the Antara or Interior Retention Technique, which is practised in different stages based on one’s comfort level.
Beginners can start with a 1-1-2 ratio. In simpler words, whatever you inhale, is then retained for the same duration. The exhalation, however, is double the duration. As you get more comfortable, you move on to stage two, where the ratio is 1-2-2. Stage 3 involves a ratio of inhalation-retention-exhalation as 1-3-2. The final stage or the stage where one can reap the maximum benefit is when you can practice a ratio of 1-4-2.
The Bahya Kumbhaka or the External Retention Technique involves keeping all three steps, i.e. inhalation, retention, and exhalation at the same duration.
You may ask which type is more suitable for people with diabetes. Even though both kinds of Kumbhaka have shown significant gains in people with diabetes, the Antara Kumbhaka has shown superior benefits in controlling blood sugar. The biggest reason is that Antara Kumbhaka has a better possibility of recreating a situation of intermittent hypoxia, which is a situation where the body lacks enough oxygen but for a short period.
One must note that Kumbhaka is practised with a relaxed mindset. When this form of Pranayama is practised, it strengthens the diaphragm and increases the lung capacity. What generally happens during the retention of breath is an increase in carbon dioxide.
What! More Carbon Dioxide!? and that instantly triggers the parts of the brain that keep a watch on the respiratory pathway. They demand the brain for better oxygen retention and interchange in return, thereby increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood.
This increase in oxygen concentration rewards the body with improved health, clears the mind of stress and anxiety, and reduces a possible strain on the circulatory pathway.
This situation of intermittent hypoxia increases the enzymatic activity and helps in the breakdown of sugar in a more efficient manner. This directly impacts insulin sensitivity as studies have shown that insulin resistance markers were at a better and refined state during a stage of intermittent hypoxia compared to any form of regular breathing.
Yoga is a broad path to healthy living, and Kumbhaka Pranayama comes along with several other benefits.
It is common for people with diabetes to feel the stress of managing the disease. A smart choice one can make when it comes to tackling Diabetes is to incorporate Yoga and Pranayama into your routine. Breathing exercises under Pranayama have a potent influence on lowering blood sugar. Once you switch to Yoga, you can finally win over the conflict of side effects and sidelining one’s body by infusing it with an unending supply of medications. While it is not easy to master and takes time to learn, they are not hard to grasp either and help build a positive outlook on life.
Kumbhaka is a method of Pranayama, that includes retention of breath, with inhalation of air, retention and exhalation done in a particular ratio. It is highly beneficial for people with diabetes as it helps in lowering blood sugar and improves oxygen concentration in blood.
Deep breathing, along with breath retention, can help in lowering blood sugar. When done together, it increases the demand for higher oxygen retention, leading to a higher concentration of oxygen in the blood. This triggers certain enzymatic activities that help break down sugar in a better manner and improve insulin sensitivity.
Breathing exercises help relieve your mental stress, keep you healthier, improve the circulatory pathway, and raise the oxygen concentration in the blood. These factors help refine insulin sensitivity and enhance the breakdown of glucose in the blood, something that highly benefits people with diabetes.
Breath retention has a multitude of benefits. It boosts lung capacity and
strengthens the diaphragm. It reduces stress and anxiety, improving longevity.
It also clears the respiratory channels, and helps with asthma and allergies.
Retention of breath, also has gastric benefits and alleviates acidity and constipation.