Fitness Magazine

False Claims Harm Yoga

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Nina

False Claims Harm Yoga

Spectacled Caiman with a False Coral Snake by Maria Sibylla Merian

Just a little rant today. Someone who shall remain nameless shared a link on Facebook to an article titled 6 Yoga Asanas for Healing Diabetes Naturally. The comments on the post were all positive. Isn’t this wonderful!
Are you kidding me? First of all, they don’t distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. If you have Type 1, you will die without insulin. So while you can use yoga to help manage the stress of living with this chronic disease, there is no “healing” from that disease, not with yoga nor with western medicine. See Aging, Yoga and Diabetes: Stereotypes That Are Truly Dangerous for information about someone who suffered as a result of the confusion between these Type 1 diabetes (which is what she really had) and Type 2 (which is what she was initially diagnosed as having, just because of her age). 
The far more common type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn't make enough insulin, often as a result of obesity. It is possible that yoga could help with this form of diabetes by helping you reduce stress, change your diet, and lose weight, but going off your medication to use yoga for healing “naturally” instead would be a really bad idea.
Still, I gritted my teeth and went to check out the article itself, just to see what it was they were claiming and what those magical six asanas were. After a very short intro that defined what diabetes is (without making the important distinction between the two types), the article claimed:  
“A newly diagnosed diabetic has excellent prospects of completely controlling and correcting his/her condition if he/she adopts yogic practices and lifestyle under expert guidance. The yogic treatment of diabetes is directed to the underlying causes of the disease as well as to its symptoms.”
Well, that’s pretty scary as far as I’m concerned because it seems to imply you should forgo western medicine if you have diabetes (type 2 we can only assume) and that you should just do yoga instead. And, although they mention “expert guidance,” they never say what kind of expert (I hope they don’t mean a yoga teacher).

This is followed by information on a program:
"The “Go Yogic” diabetes management programme will at least require one month for the initial period of training. However with proper medical collaboration this objective can be safely achieved. The “Go Yogic” diabetes management programme and progress will wary for each individual. This programme should be considered absolute for all the diabetics’ patients."

Well, at least they’re mentioning “medical collaboration,” whatever that is. But the claim that the program should be considered “absolute” for all diabetics is, again, extremely misleading and irresponsible. Finally, the article ends with instructions for doing six poses, with no explanation of what effects those poses (and practices) would actually have on a person with diabetes (or an anyone for that matter). Cause I know you want to see it, here's the list:
  • Shashank Asana (Hare Pose)
  • Yoga Mudra Asana (Psyhic Union Pose)
  • Ardhamatsendr Asana (Half Spinal Twist)
  • Pachimottan Asana (Posterior Stretching Pose)
  • Bhujang Asana (Cobra Pose)
  • Suryabheda Pranayama (Vital stimulating break)
So that’s what is making me angry this morning. Because the truth is, we do think that yoga is a powerful tool for helping with almost any medical conditions, including diabetes (see 5 Ways Yoga Can Affect Your Health). But false claims about “six poses that heal” like this—and, boy, we see them everywhere—are not only dangerous for people reading the article, as they might be led to seriously compromise their health, but these false claims are doing yoga a huge disservice. Click bait about yoga that simplifies, misleads, and downright lies is only going to make people distrust yoga's legitimate benefits. 
(Yes, I did leave some explanatory comments on the Facebook post.)
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