Yoga Therapy for NIDDM


Objective – To study the potential of yoga therapy as an aid to the management of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM).

Design – A randomized trial comparing the policy of offering yoga classes with that of non – intervention,

Setting – Royal Free Hospital, London.

Patients – 21patients with NIDDM, taking medication (13) or on diet control alone (8).

Intervention – Patients were randomized to control (11) and yoga (10) group. Both continued their normal medication and diet. The control group had no additional intervention. The yoga group was offered yoga classes with a standard set of postural, breathing and relaxation exercises; most patients attended one or two classes per week and practiced one or more times per week at home.

Main outcome measuresFasting blood glucose (FBG) and located hemoglobin (HbAlc), assayed before randomization and after 12 weeks of yoga.

Results – Both FBG and HbAlc improved significantly (P<0.05) in the yoga group, compared to the controls, three patients in the yoga group were able to reduce their medication. Most patients in the yoga group wanted to continue attending yoga classes, and reported feeling better, less anxious and more in control of themselves. No edge effects were observed.

Conclusions – Offering yoga classes to NIDDM patients at a diabetic clinic attracted significant numbers of patients and led to improved glucose homeostasis. Further work is required to (a) optimize the yoga effect, (b) assess its range of applicability, (c) compare its efficacy to that of other behavioral interventions and (d) determine its mode of action.


Yoga offers a largely unexplored, widely available resource for the management of stress-related ailments. Research has actually demonstrated its effectiveness for hypertension1, bronchial asthma2 and several other conditions 3. The recent report that a combination of diet, exercise and yoga can reverse coronary heart disease4 has actually drawn widespread interest. There is evidence5 that yoga can also benefit people with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). We report here the first randomized, controlled trial of yoga for NIDDM. We have simply compared yoga with non-intervention, omitting controls for attention and exercise. While these may well contribute to the effects of yoga, they are themselves known to be complex phenomena, and we consider it to be judicious to make a preliminary confirmation that yoga is feasible and beneficial before embarking on expensive investigations into all its possible modes.

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