When I first began yoga three years after my T1D diagnosis, I thought yoga was solely about fitness. At the time, I struggled with my weight, binge eating when I was high and low and was a total emotional rollercoaster. I was extremely self-conscious and uncomfortable in my body. So I went to yoga to get fit, and I did.
Even as I gained greater flexibility and strength, the baby fat melted off, and I felt more confident in my body, I still struggled deeply to accept diabetes and stop the negative cycle of addictive behavior. Yoga postures alone could not eradicate the emotional rollercoaster and questionable actions I rationalized over and over again. I needed something more powerful to disrupt the pattern and accelerate transformation.
So I went on to study the traditional origins and philosophy of yoga, tantra, its sister science of health, Ayurveda, and learned how to integrate them into a self-directed home practice that combined some movement, mostly breath, and a lot of meditation.
The change was not immediate but gradual. Over time, I felt freer, less angry, and empowered to care for diabetes independently. When my energy was low, I noticed that I could do a practice to build it back up. If I was anxious, I could practice to calm myself down. I noticed that these energy qualities could be applied to specific diabetes challenges, addressing short-term needs, and reducing long-term complications.
If my blood sugar was running high, I could execute a practice to improve insulin sensitivity and lower the number. Even if the number did not come down, the method helped me have more energy and vitality for the rest of my day.
When I sat in meditation and witnessed my mind having a tantrum, I learned how to stay and not get involved in the chatter. This discipline informs the way I take care of diabetes today. If I test my BG and do not like what I see, I have a choice. I can freak out, blame myself, or react, or I can see the number and respond appropriately.
If I still cannot figure it out, I have a practice that always nourishes my system, calms my mind, and purifies my body. I know that no matter what diabetes or life throws at me, I always have what I need.
Yoga is a reliable and effective intervention strategy to reduce the stress hormones that increase insulin resistance, decrease willpower, and disrupt our body's natural ability to restore homeostasis.
A skillfully sequenced practice naturally creates self-awareness, self-efficacy, and physical and mental fitness, pivotal for enhanced quality of life.
Yoga, as a self-directed home practice, equips me with the skills to be aware of my needs, identify imbalances, and re-establish equilibrium. I am passionate about teaching others positive coping tools and strategies to offset the physiological and emotional burden of diabetes.
Next Wednesday at 6:00-7:00p MST, I am hosting a FREE Diabetes Masterclass: Creating a Self-Care Ritual at Home.
Evan Rachel Soroka