Yoga for Diabetes

Me doing Twisted Hand to Big Toe Pose... This will definitely build some heat!

Me doing Twisted Hand to Big Toe Pose… This will definitely build some heat!

In class this morning we discussed and centered our practice around diabetes. Unfortunately, diabetes is a disease that runs rampant in our society. There is type 1, which is an autoimmune disease and then there is type 2. Type two is the most common, but type one is on the rise. Now I’m no doctor and I know this is controversial (especially to those who don’t want to hear it) but I like to think of type 2 as being a lifestyle disease. Time and time again I hear of people reversing or controlling type 2 through their lifestyle: exercise, healthy eating, yoga maybe…

If you struggle with diabetes, insulin resistance or sensitivity, with regular practice yoga can help!

Here is how:

Yoga helps to keep stress levels under control. When you’re under stress cortisol and adrenalin is raised. Both contribute to overeating, increased belly fat and insulin resistance.

Balancing poses, core strengthening poses and flow (Sun Salutations) help to build heat in the body. Heat is good for those whose Aruvedyic Dosha is Kapha (generally, a heavier and more sluggish individual). Building heat and focusing on the core also helps with burning more calories, hopefully targeting belly fat.

Standing poses help to evenly distribute fat on feet. Many people with diabetes suffer from problems with their feet, such as sores, open wounds etc. Standing poses, with a focus on using the whole foot, helps to keep the fat evenly distributed to help lessen issues with feet.

Promotes mindfulness. One thing that can’t be forgotten is that yoga helps to build a sense of body and mind awareness. Many students, including myself, claim that yoga has helped them to pay more attention to their body and how it feels. After practicing for a while you may start to cue in to how certain foods or substances make you feel. You can also become more tunes in to satiation levels.

Here is a short stress-reducing, fire building yoga sequence to get you started:

Start with 5 – 10 minutes of breathing in an easy seated or lying position.

Several rounds of cat/cow

1-3 rounds of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar A)

1-2 rounds of Surya Namaskar B

From a forward fold step to Warrior 1 –> Warrior 2 –> Reverse Triangle (repeat on other side)

From a forward fold step to Warrior 2 –> Triangle –>Warrior 2 –> Half Moon (repeat on other side)

From a forward fold step to High Lunge (R)–>Goddess Pose –> High Lunge (L) –> Goddess Pose –>Wide leg Fwd Bend

Downward Facing Dog

Locust Pose (Arms forward, then to out the side, then along your side body)

Downward Facing Dog

Pigeon Pose (R & L)

Boat Pose

Lying Twist

Baby

Savasana (no more than 15 minutes if you’re a kapha type)signiture copy copy

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Let’s be real: Loving yourself is hard work

DSC_0038 copyJust like loving a significant other, learning to love yourself in order to eradicate a negative body image takes time, work, effort, respect, and constant reminders. If you’ve battled your body your whole life, as I have, you are not going to, realistically, wake up one morning and just decide that you love everything about yourself.

You’re still going to have insecurities, fears, moments of sadness, and icky envy… <–Gosh, doesn’t sound very promising, eh?

But wait a minute! There is still hope.

I can’t guarantee this is how it will be for you, but when I decided to stop dieting and focus on intuitive eating, and then a couple years later decided to lose hate instead of weight, I felt lighter. I think it was years of guilt I felt float off my shoulders – a lifetime of being told by peers and media that, because I had fat, I wasn’t a significant human being—woman.

And I still struggle with loving myself at all times. Heck, my biggest trigger is seeing myself in candid photos. Eeek! While I didn’t cry this time, I sure felt all those nasty little emotions popping up as I looked through vacation pictures.

Here is the amazing thing, though. I didn’t cry. I looked at some of those pictures for a while. I sat with them until it didn’t hurt so much anymore. Then I made myself say something nice about the picture. Even something simple like, my hair looks shiny, or my legs are almost tan!

Then, in those moments of “feeling fat,” I start down the path of “I need to lose weight” really quickly. But not long after follows some internal dialogue about needing to stop that; if you exercise you do it out of love; if you eat, you eat for health; etc.

See?

It’s a process. It’s a journey. Hang in there. You can get through each and every icky moment!

Loving yourself is a commitment. You have to wake up every day, reminding yourself every hour, every minute, that you are special, important and beautiful.

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Set goals, not intoxicated resolutions

If you have some resolutions/goals (I prefer to call them goals) in mind for 2016, and you’d like to, you know, actually stick with them, may I make a suggestion?

 

Don’t make a last minute, semi-intoxicated toast committing to your resolutions. Cause guess what? You won’t keep them (there is also the possibility that you won’t even remember them come January 1).

 

1476a7ee-15aa-4cf9-baba-d52e0829fce1Instead, take some time to make a realistic plan for keeping your resolutions. Sit in a quiet place, with no distractions, with a pen and paper and jot down your goals.

 

Then, put them where you can see them every day. Make it pretty and put it in a frame if you have to (that’s what I’m going to do!). Yay for pretty things! Consider also making bite-sized steps for your goals. Break it down into bullet points or mind mapping, if you prefer.

 

Once you’ve had your brainstorming session and have your resolutions written down, commit to them daily.

 

Here is a tip I picked up recently: Every day write a to do list. Prioritize three things you MUST do that day. At least two of those things should contribute to your yearly resolutions. Next, you can prioritize your list by things you probably should do, and then things you’d like to do if there is time.

 

I’ve been practicing this method this week and I have found it very helpful. Honestly, I don’t even get to the “things to do if there is time.” I keep my list short, no more than 5 things. This doesn’t include day job tasks, this only includes tasks for at home or for my yoga business.

 

My three things typically look like this:

 

Morning Routine, which includes daily chores, exercise, and de-cluttering. (One of my goals for 2016 is to put more effort into being more efficient in my morning routine, which has always included exercise and de-cluttering.  I’ve just always seen these things as “I’ll do it if there is time.” Well, this past week and this next year, it’s going to be #1 on my list! My other goals are to move my body more and to de-clutter my home.)

 

Yoga Business related task, such as plan lesson, post a blog, boost Facebook post, etc.

 

Errand/Other necessity, so far it’s been doctor’s appointments or grocery shopping/meal planning.

 

By listing out my three must do’s for the day, I feel so much less overwhelmed. When I make to-do lists, I  make TO-DO lists. Often times my list will include 20 things I feel I should do in a day. But, I get so overwhelmed, I freeze.

 

Perhaps I’m resolving to have a shorter to-do list too! 🙂

 

Ok, to sum it up make resolutions/goals, but DON’T “wing” it. Brainstorm and write them down. Put them in a place where you can see them every day. Commit to doing something (even just one thing) toward your goals daily!

 

Now…718c4457-2721-4812-ace3-485685ec179d
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Love your body at any age: Yoga and Osteoporosis

New blog post! This past week I had the opportunity to listen in on a tele-summit regarding yoga and osteoporosis. The information I gathered was very helpful and so beautifully fit into the “body love” and “yoga for all” direction I’m taking my teaching. Loving your body at any age is equally as important as loving your body at any size, etc. In short: yoga can both prevent and reverse osteoporosis. <-What a better way to love your body than with prevention! Read my notes to for the DOs and DON’Ts of Yoga for Osteoporosis.

Photo credit: According to Bing this image is free to share and use.

Photo credit: According to Bing this image is free to share and use.

***The information presented in this article are my notes on the free YogaU.com tele-summit , “Yoga for Osteoporosis: Prevention and Practice,” as presented by Dr. Loren Fishman and Ellen Saltonstall.

For eight years Dr. Fishman, who is also a well-known yoga teacher, has been studying effects of yoga and building bones. Throughout this eight year span, Fishman collected data on 900 participants and found the average participant, who was in the Osteoporosis range before starting yoga, had re-grown bone mass and came out of the Osteoporosis range.

Google defines Osteoporosis as “a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.”

Dr. Fishman, however, doesn’t fully agree that the loss of tissue is solely a result of mineral deficiencies. Fishman holds to Wollf’s Law, which, according to Wikipedia “is a theory…that states that bone in a healthy person or animal will adapt to the loads under which it is placed.”

In other words, bone can re-build mass and adapt if appropriate, healthy pressure is applied. Gentle, strength-building forms of yoga provide a compressive force that stimulates the bone. As muscles are worked, the muscles pull on joints and bones to stimulate growth.

Dr. Fishman also found that yoga works just as well (if not better) to reverse Osteoporosis as pharmaceuticals such as Boniva. Fishman states that Boniva does work, but has its problems and one thousand and one side effects. Yoga on the other hand, has no negative side effects (if practiced safely) and can improve posture, balance, coordination, range of motion, strength and anxiety, all of which are important to aging bodies.

Osteoporosis is not just a concern for those who are older. Prevention should be a concern to those of any age. Dr. Fishman states the earlier in life you start your yoga practice, the better, as a yoga practice can help prevent osteoporosis.
Ellen Saltonstall, a well-known yoga teacher and assistant in this yoga study, gives some advice for those who have Osteoporosis, or may be at risk to Osteoporosis, and would like to begin a yoga practice.

The DOs of Yoga for Osteoporosis:
-Check with a physician. Get a DEXA scan. Check for other medical problems.
-Find a qualified yoga teacher. Yoga Alliance registered is important, but experience and background are also things to consider.
-Use care and intelligence. Start slowly & gradually.
-Practice regularly. Ideally 30 minutes five to seven days a week. Slowly build up amount and frequency.
-Focus on strength and balance rather than stretching or relaxing.
-Prioritize poses that extend the spine: back-bending, which build strength and counteract kyphosis.

The DON’Ts of Osteoporosis.
-Strain: Be intelligible/mindful.
– Avoid flexing (bending forward) the spine with speed and force.
-When practicing balancing poses use props, wall, chair.
-When twisting, avoid curving the spine. Don’t force with leverage. Focus on lift of the spine and raise the hips with a blanket, block or towel.
-Avoid inversions until proper guidance and enough strength in the arms and shoulders.
-Avoid excessive weight bearing on the hands and wrists before you’re ready. Build up strength slowly.signiture copy copy