The 3-minute yoga flow to slash your diabetes risk, lower your stress levels – and tone up!

Scientists have found that doing simple yoga stretches for just three minutes every hour can lower diabetes risk by up to a quarter.

And it gets better — some exercises don’t even require you to stand up.

Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University asked 15 young adults to sit at a desk for eight hours and either remain sedentary or do 180 seconds of yoga or tai chi every hour.

Tai chi had no significant effect. But those who did yoga poses such as downward dog, cobra, warrior and mountain, lowered their blood sugar levels by around 10 per cent.

Let’s not forget the broader benefits of yoga — it strengthens and lengthens muscles (making you more taut and toned), and increases stamina, balance and flexibility, which is great if you want to supercharge your sex life, remain physically robust in middle age and beyond or nurture your mental health.

Yoga poses such as downward dog (pictured), cobra, warrior and mountain, have been show to lower blood sugar levels by around 10 per cent when repeated throughout the day (stock image)

The study’s findings come as no surprise to leading yoga instructor Marianne O’Neill, who teaches with AMP at the Corinthia hotel, frequented by celebrities such as Catherine Zeta-Jones, Daniel Craig and Jennifer Lawrence. 

‘Yoga has so many benefits — not just for diabetes, but for anxiety, stress and weight. And it doesn’t need to take a long time,’ she says.

Set a timer on your phone and complete as many sun salutations as you can in three minutes. Or perform a spinal twist, holding for one and a half minutes on each side.

Or you could do a cobra, then a downward dog, each for one and a half minutes. Repeat your micro-session of yoga al desko eight times a day, just three minutes each hour, and get all the benefits without missing a single work deadline…

Seated stretch

Beginners can sit on a chair. Alternatively, sit cross-legged on the floor and breathe in slowly through your nose. Hold your breath for a count of four, then relax, and slowly exhale, dropping your shoulders. Repeat three times.

Inhale as you raise your arms above your head, then interlock your fingers and push your palms upwards. Lengthen your torso, draw in your core, and hold. Then as you breathe out, lean to your left, pushing your palms, stretching your arms, and lengthening along the right side of the body. Then raise your arms over your head, and lean to the right, lengthening along your left side.

Spinal twist

Sit cross-legged on the floor — or, if this causes discomfort, sit on a chair, knees together, feet flat on the ground. Open your arms wide and twist from the base of your spine, place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind you, fingertips touching the floor or the chair seat.

Breathe slowly and deeply. Sit tall and roll your right shoulder back. Repeat on your opposite side. Any twist helps with digestion as it gets your system moving. It’s also great for hip flexibility, and stretches the chest, shoulders and back.

Ozempic, which has received a lot of media attention for aiding weight loss, is primarily used to treat diabetes

Ozempic, which has received a lot of media attention for aiding weight loss, is primarily used to treat diabetes 

Sphinx pose or cobra

The cobra pose — you lie flat on your stomach, arms by your sides, and rear up from the waist like a snake — strengthens the abs, core and spine, and even the glutes if you engage them. Some people say this stretch also compresses their lower back.

I recommend a beginner’s variation — the sphinx pose. Place your elbows on the floor in line with your chest, with your forearms flat in front of you. Keep looking towards the mat and remain low. Raise your upper body to where it’s comfortable, pushing your chest forward and keep your shoulders back. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

Downward dog

Start on all fours, hands on the mat shoulder-width apart. Lift your knees off the mat and, keeping your hands flat, raise your hips and press your heels to the floor until you’re making a triangular shape. Straightening your legs can hurt, so bend the knees if necessary.

Push away from your hands so you’re stretching your arms and keep your bottom high in the air. Hold for a few moments. This releases tension and gets the blood pumping.

Warrior II

Stand upright, feet hip-width apart. Step your right foot back, and turn it outward at 90 degrees, bend your left knee — aligning with your left ankle. Stretch your arms out horizontally either side of you — left arm in line with your left leg, right arm over right leg. Turn your head so your gaze aligns with your left fingertips. Keep your spine vertical. A beautiful stretch for balance, flexibility, and stamina.

Sun salutation

Sitting for hours contributes to diabetes risk. This move helps control blood sugar levels.

Begin in mountain pose with arms down by your side, palms facing up. Inhale, raise your arms overhead, stretch and lengthen.

Exhale and slowly bend forward from your hips, drawing in your core, until your fingers touch the floor, bending your knees if it’s easier. Inhale, flatten your spine until your torso is horizontal — a ‘halfway lift’.

Exhaling, place your hands on the floor and step back into a plank. Lower your knees-chest-chin to the floor. Inhale into cobra. Exhale into downward dog. Inhale, step or jump to the front — halfway lift. Exhale, bend forward. Inhale, roll up and reach your arms overhead. Exhale, return to mountain.