One of the most potent tools in your toolkit to live more mindfully with diabetes is the breath. Yoga defines breathing as pranayama as the expansion of life-force energy. As a person who lives with a condition that can be physically and mentally exhausting working with the breath is a simple and effective way that you can increase your energy, vitality and encourage your body’s natural ability to self-heal. Not only is the breath a tool of physical healing, but also it is the gateway into the mind. Diabetes stressful for many reasons. The breath helps reduce stress triggers by creating space between your thoughts and actions. By tapping into your breath on a regular basis you can change the way you think, feel, and relate to diabetes.
In this short video you will learn:
-What is the yogic breath
-Why it is essential for diabetes management
-How to breath properly
-Simple tools to begin a practice of mindful diabetes management
If you are short for time, go directly to marker 5:10 for the direct teaching on how to breathe more mindfully.
What can go wrong will go wrong when you have diabetes. I am not saying this to be negative. It is simply a fact of the matter. That is why it is extra important if you or someone that you love has diabetes that they are always prepared for an emergency. Here are the top 5 things that I keep in my purse or bring with me in a day pack. THIS IS NOT FOR MORE THAN A DAY TRIP so I am keeping in mind what is ESSENTIAL.
This active planning is considered a yoga practice because it is helping you to avoid all future suffering. If you are prepared for future problems, you can relax and enjoy the moment that you are in! That is what life is about.
It is no secret that living with Type 1 diabetes can be challenging for even the strongest of dispositions. Life is trying no matter if you have chronic illness or not but the added pressure of a variable like Type 1 diabetes makes life’s aggravations even more challenging to bear. Stress impacts the individual at every level (physically, cognitively and emotionally) and for the person with Type 1 diabetes, high levels of stress can be incredibly detrimental, not only making it harder to manage blood sugar levels but also rendering the individual sad, hopeless and overwhelmed. This article aims to inspire other people with Type 1 diabetes to work regularly on managing the symptoms of emotional distress through yoga therapy techniques, physical exercise and improved self-awareness. The goal is to be less affected by stress, become more conscious of stress triggers, and to detoxify the mind of its learned habitual reactivity with an ultimate aim to live healthy, happy and productive lives.
Depression: is it really clinical or an underlaying symptom of stress?
There are significant research studies correlating Type 1 diabetes to depression, claiming that T1Ds are nearly 50% more likely to be diagnosed with a form of depression than non-diabetics (Beyond Type 1). However in a recent UK study, this claim has been further examined and scientists are now suggesting that there is a distinction between emotional distress from managing chronic illness and an actual mental disorder. This emotional distress is known as “diabetes distress” (DD). If you live with Type 1 diabetes or any other form of chronic illness you understand exactly what the word “distress” feels like. At times it can be so overwhelming and the lingering aftermath so great, it can seem like there is no way out. It is this distress that is at the root of all suffering for those with Type 1, but also the entry point to eventually breaking the cycle of negativity and reactivity.
The mind at the root of suffering
Have you ever heard that you create your own reality? The mind is at the root of understanding and managing the stress response. Often it is the reaction to the stress that is more detrimental than the stressors themselves, especially if self-created. The mind is the filter to all of our experiences, past, present and future. If that filter is corroded or tainted due to negative past impressions then our present moment will reflect this tainted point of view and the future will be muddled by a cloud of self doubt and darkness. It’s like if you go to a restaurant and have a bad experience; it would probably take many more positive experiences at that same restaurant to get over the one bad experience. This is what it is like living with chronic illness except you can’t pick a better restaurant to go to. This is what is for dinner. So what are the options? You can choose to live with anger, resentment and reactivity or you can choose to do something about it.
How to begin …
The first step in the process of applying yoga therapy for those with Type 1 diabetes to transform how you feel in your body right now. It is no wonder that people with T1D are athletes. Movement can reduce physical tension associated with emotional tension. Physical activity such as yoga poses can increase insulin sensitivity and improve circulation. However, limiting the focus on the physical body to treat stress simply puts a band-aid on the origin of the stress itself. To truly create long lasting change, one must influence the mind.
So the second step is to strengthen the mind. The doorway to shift the mind is respiration. You cannot control every detail of Type 1 diabetes but your breath is something that you can control. The quality of the breath directly relates to the quality of the mind; i.e. tension and strain in breathing are often indicative of the same qualities in the mind. These tensions can be conscious or unconscious but with regular practice you begin to make the unconscious conscious.
This is a process known as viveka or clear seeing. Through the regulation of breath one can regulate the autonomic nervous system’s response to stress. When the nervous system is in balance you are less driven by your emotions, your behavior improves and you can link to sources of inspiration and joy. Breathing is a discipline onto itself which can be refined with breath-centric yoga movements, pranayama (lengthening inhale, exhale or both); with chanting, meditation and mantra one can develop his or her resiliency and adaptability to stress. The third step is putting the work into action. The sooner you recognize your mechanism of reactivity the less time it takes for you to return to a state of balance.
When your emotions are balanced you can observe the constant fluctuations of blood sugars and nagging alarms without getting caught up in the drama. The greatest example I have of this is encountering a severe hypoglycemic episode. Yoga teaches us to observe ourselves from outside ourselves. When you are suffering from a low blood sugar, the body goes into complete survival mode. All reason goes out the window and you would do just about anything to get that box of juice or handful of glucose tabs in your mouth. When I was younger and lacking discipline, I would reach for the box of cereal and one bowl would turn into four. Being utterly possessed by the primal instinct of survival, I could not limit myself to one bowl and wait until I felt better. Instead I would find myself at 400 ml/dl a few hours later. Now with practice and refinement, I can treat my low and abide in the uncomfortable 15 minutes of sensations and visceral survival mode without over reacting.
This example can be applied to so many instances of life with Type 1 diabetes, from staggering health insurance premiums, to uncomfortable insulin pumps, CGMs and needles, to communicating with non-T1Ds, to your own self-forgiveness for not bolusing correctly for your meal. Yoga therapy can be an effective and powerful tool for people with Type 1 diabetes to apply a positive influence over their unpredictable disease. Ultimately to treat Type 1 diabetes with yoga therapy, there is no specific posture or sequence. It depends on the individual and their current level of diabetic distress and coping mechanisms. With regular practice and dedication to yoga therapy, you can live a more balanced, spacious and joyful existence in relationship to your disease and the world around you.
There reason why you can't keep those goals and intentions you've set for yourself is because your mind is not stable, yet. When it is stable, calm and quiet you can perceive its self-luminous properties, i.e. the BEST qualities of your mind: joy, clarity, space, creativity and freedom!
In order to set better intentions we must first stabilize the mind. Without this preliminary step and regular practice we will go back to all of the old behaviors. When applying this for type 1 and type 2 diabetes it is important to recognize the patterns of our own behaviors. We often have lots of goals but cannot fulfill them because our behaviors are rooted deeply in habituation. This makes sense because so much of diabetes is routine!
Take 5 minutes with me. Practice balancing out the energetic channels of the mind. Regulate the right and left nostril dominance. This has a hugely powerful effect over the constantly moving mind.
Happy New Year!
Break through diabetes habits with yoga therapy
Join me for a 6-week online yoga therapy series for diabetics. We will work with the foundation to yoga therapy, breathing and meditatton practices, weekly intention-setting and self-care practices. Rise above the challenges of diabetes and use them as a source to your own self-mastery! Join now.
Yoga Therapy Intervention for Low Blood Sugars
Ok, before you start this practice PLEASE treat your low. As if you actually liked the feeling of being low?!
This practice is to help offset the side effects of hypoglycemia episodes. Low's as they are commonly referred to are uncomfortable, scary and extremely depleting! I usually feel totally wiped out after a severe low and need rest to recover. However the world we live in doesn't always support taking the day off to recover. So I have created a 24 minute master class designed specifically to help you recover faster from hypoglycemia episodes. Diabetes is something that we live with but it does not own us! We have the power over it and can use the ancient tools of yoga and Ayurveda to help our systems return to an optimal state of balance.
I hope you enjoy! Leave your comments below!
You may have never of heard of yoga therapy before stumbling on my page. The truth of the matter is that yoga therapy is not only one of the fastest growing subsets of yoga, but also it epitomizes yoga tradition as it has been around much longer than group yoga and private yoga practices. Traditionally yoga was always applied to the individual's unique needs, goals and learning capabilities. The goal of yoga being freedom from suffering, optimal health, mastery over the mind and increased potential.
In general when people start searching for yoga privates they look for an established teacher. Sometimes out of convenience they will contact a yoga studio rather than google search yoga privates in Aspen. Very few are are actually looking for yoga therapy.
Here's what sets yoga therapy apart from generic yoga privates and why you should invest in yoga therapy instead of regular yoga privates.
*A form of physical therapy and psychotherapy
*Applied to a specific injury or health condition
*Includes deep assessment from the physical to the spiritual
*Focuses on relieving the cause of suffering
*Taught to the individual's unique needs, goals and abilities
*Assesses the needs, goals of client and creates an intervention practice with specific
*Can prescribe specific breathing exercises and meditations
*Helps clients gain independence from their condition and story
*Empowers client to take an active role in their self-care
*Shows client how to do the work on their own
Yoga therapy is providing an exclusively holistic experience which extends beyond a few days in Aspen.
I only take clients by appointment in my office in Aspen, CO.
Meditation for diabetics by a diabetic
The science is out there: meditation is good for your brain!
Meditation increases your brain's neuroplasticity; which refers to the brain changes that occur in response to EXPERIENCES.
Neuroplasticity augments the growth of new neurons in the brain as well as your own improved ability to learn new and healthier patterns.
Last week's video was about the brain's tendency to grab hold of negative experiences and ignore positive ones. Therefore in order to move past stale and unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior we must actively create more powerful positive experiences.
This is especially important skillset to have when you live with type 1 diabetes.
Even the best of intentioned diabetic will react to diabetes triggers unconsciously further perpetuating the snowball effect of up/down, high/low instead of calmly responding and putting an end to it.
I want to show you that you are completely capable of mastering your mind's triggered reactions to type 1 diabetes (and any other life stressor) through simple meditation. I know just how hard it is to live with the high emotional cost of diabetes and I also know that if it were not for meditation I would not have the HbA1c that I do.
This 20-min meditation is known as an open meditation. The idea is to allow your mind to move freely. Thoughts are always related to a time: past, present, future and a quality: positive, negative, neutral.
By simply naming the thought and then letting it go, the thought ceases to control your mind and improves your brain's cognitive functioning, mood and of course behavior. You stop reacting and start actively RESPONDING. This can greatly affect your attitude about living with diabetes.
With practice a regular meditation practice can help you to master type 1 diabetes with grace.
Taming the Diabetes Stress Reflux (How to do it once and for all)
Even though I have lived with type 1 diabetes for over 20 years and have dedicated my life to helping other diabetics master and overcome their challenges with this disease, I do not profess to have this thing figured out. What I can tell you is that even if I “can’t figure it out” everyday I do have the power to choose how I respond to the ups and downs. This inner strength is all you need overcome even the biggest diabetes struggles.
You always have two options:
RESPOND or REACT
Reacting is like a reflux. It is quick, impulsive, without thought and emotional. It can be aggressive and cause a snowball effect of more reactions causing unlimited suffering. Reactions are unconscious, meaning you don’t choose to react your unconscious mind does.
Responding on the other hand, is conscious, meaning you have choice. It is calm, intentional and assertive. Once you respond from a clear place, the drama is over.
I think it's safe to assume that most of us would like to respond to type 1 diabetes from a calm place but instead we react without thought. Every time we have a negative experience in regard to type 1 diabetes this re-circuits the brain to make future freak outs more likely.
It’s no wonder so many type 1 diabetes report higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Yoga tradition maintains that negative thoughts proceed negative behaviors.
The mind holds onto negative experiences more readily than positive ones.
It takes about 10 positive experiences to overcome 1 bad experience.
I'm here today to show you how to overcome your learned behavioral refluxes which turns into diabetes chaos!
In this video you will learn:
How to lean into your own self-wisdom
The antidote for in the moment diabetes distress
Three ways to reinforce self-empowered choices
3:36 The beginning of my three steps for self-empowered choices
Yoga taught me to turn my whole life into a practice, especially type 1 diabetes.
This simple mind-shift helped me to see that living with type 1 diabetes and hypothyroidism is a beautiful and curious practice of yoga.
However it is easier said than done. I am not immune to challenges.
The last few weeks I have been struggling to get my blood sugars in check.
Every time I notice that my numbers are off I reason the direct cause of the imbalance.
Here’s the step-by-step question analysis:
Through this scientific deduction process I usually can discover the cause of my imbalance.
But what happens when you still can’t figure it out?
It is so frustrating! It can lead to diabetes burnout, fatigue, anxiety and ultimately depression.
The answer to mastering your condition and rising above the highs and lows is turning your experience into a practice.
Yoga therapy is a science of deductive reasoning through sva-dhyaya or self-awareness.
In this video I will go over my top 6 steps to help you increase self-awareness, promote clarity when you are confused and become non-reactive in the face of the most frustrating diabetes ruts.
Learn my top yoga therapy action steps to get out of your diabetes rut now and in the future.