One of the most challenging side effects of blood sugar swings is how it impacts your energetic condition. Your energetic condition is the way you feel and perceive reality at any given time.
With diabetes, we must pay more attention to our energetic condition than the average person. We live on a tightrope, carefully balancing our numbers, but one false move, and it's easy to crash in either direction.
When this happens, as it inevitably does, our energy is dramatically impacted. It can take hours, if not days, to recover from one miscalculated meal, training session or hormonal cycle.
Understanding how to recognize your energetic condition and reestablish balance on your own is an essential and life-changing skill set for anyone living with diabetes. I'm going to tell you how with three steps, but you need to read a little more first.
The Mind-Body Connection
We often equate our energy with the body, but not necessarily the mind. But yoga considers the two as inseparable- the way you feel in the body influences perception and vice versa.
With a full container of energy, you perceive reality through an optimistic lens, acting from your inner-knowingness, with effect and potency. When depleted, the world's hue is drab. Roadblocks, barriers, and blockages surround every direction.
Energy is everything. Your energy levels dictate your reality. For instance, when you're feeling drained, you are less likely to engage in the world as you would if your energy were vibrant.
The way you feel governs the way you think. With a full container of energy, you perceive reality through an optimistic lens, acting from your inner-knowingness, with effect and potency. When depleted, the world's hue is drab. Roadblocks, barriers, and blockages surround every direction.
Prana - The Essential Lifeforce
A core tenant of yoga is that life is sacred. Every moment is an opportunity to engage with our life's purpose, but we cannot live in the moment when our energy is out of whack. Not only can we not perform well, but we do not feel well. So we need strategies to help us recover faster and more efficiently.
The beautiful thing is that your energy is easily changeable even if your numbers aren't perfect. What governs your energy is Prana, the vital life force. Prana is fluid and moveable. The easiest way to influence Prana is with yoga practice.
Asana (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditations all move Prana differently. Not all practices are suitable for our immediate needs. The key to applying yoga as therapy is understanding how different methods will impact you and your energy.
The Starting Point
The number #1 most important question is to ask yourself is: What is out of balance? And how can I reestablish balance?
For instance, if your energy is zapped and your mind is zonked, it wouldn't make sense to do a challenging, heat-provoking practice. It would make more sense to practice gentle, restoratives or yoga nidra.
Or, if your mind is all over the place, maybe forcing yourself to sit in meditation will be more painful than productive. You may receive a greater benefit by meeting your movement with movement before winding down to stillness.
Honestly, the variables are endless, but with practice, you can begin to intuit your needs. So I've included a basic outline from my book Yoga Therapy for Diabetes for understanding how to manage your energy with yoga.
Physically and mentally tired - the result of severe highs or lows - cooling, calming, restful practices like yin, restoratives, yoga nidra to rebuild vitality. Pranayamas: 1:2 and 1:1 ratios, nadi shodhana.
Physically and mentally restless - results from hyperactivity - anxiety - insulin resistance. Start with mindful dynamic movement, preferably standing postures to ground you into your body. Move towards slower movements and longer, supported holds. Pranayama: inhale retention (holding inhales), longer exhales. An excellent example is: inhale 6, retain 6, exhale 12.
Physically tired and mentally restless- overworked body, anxious mind. This could be a product of longer-duration diabetes, sleepless nights, chronic anxiety, poor digestion.
Start slow, build up postures from the ground and work up to standing poses. Asymmetrical poses like side bends and forward bends are helpful to work the body, give the mind a focal point but not overly exhaust the nervous system. Pranayama: sitali/sitkari, alternative nostril exhale, pratiloma ujjayi, langhana pranayamas to turn on the parasympathetic nervous system.
Want to learn more about Yoga Therapy for Diabetes? Check out my book or waitlist for Rise Above T1D.
Evan Rachel Soroka