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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In Dreams Awake

Here is a little thoughts-on-life, thoughts-on-God-and-yoga gem I wrote a few years ago. I stumbled upon it today and thought you might enjoy a peak in my brain and how very random my thoughts can be!

Schedule updates soon…I promise. 🙂

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“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.” – Henry David Thoreau

flowerMy unconscious dreams

I mostly dream about normal things.  You know: hiding from Zombies in underground layers; trying to outrun tornados to save my family; and dunking Oreos in milk. Typical, right?

Well, a recent dream turned out to be not so typical.  And I didn’t like it.

I’m at Chang’s Mongolian Grill with a friend, Brittany.  Before ending up at Chang’s I tried to get Brittany to go to the Black Bear Dinner with me so we could eat ungodly amounts of fried American food and dip it all in blue cheese dressing (together – because we’d both kill to do that right now).  However, after a few unfortunate events such as our baby-blue, antique convertible breaking down, and getting stuck in a room with a bunch of old youth group members, we were unable to go.  The universe was clearly working against us.

So anyway we’re at Chang’s.  We’re sitting at a long narrow table with two random guys we’ve never seen before.  I got up to replenish my plate with more vegetables.  The guys gave me this look.  I know the look well.  It’s the you’re-too-fat-for-more-food look.  I begged, “But I’m fat because I have Hashimoto’s disease and I’m hypo-thyroid, plus it’s just vegetables.”

And that was it.  Psychologically speaking I’d say this is my unconscious telling me I feel like I can’t eat anything good, I eat everything I should, and I am still weighty.  Oh and I feel like I am being judged.  My unconscious is mean to bring up these feelings.

My conscious dreams

I used to dream about things like being thin, making a million dollars off of my top selling thriller and traveling to far-off ancient ruins to explore lost civilizations.

Ok, so I won’t lie.  I still do dream about those things.  Sometimes.

But these days I tend to keep my dreams and goals a little more realistic: weeding my back yard, getting my health under control, paying off school loans and starting a family (not that Maddie is not my baby, because she totally is.  I just want one a little less hairy).

Thoughts about dreams/goals

I think it was Sri Swami Satchidananda who translated one of the Yoga Sutra’s to say something along the lines of: We suffer because we are not content with our current situation.  In other words we’re not present.  We’re always dreaming/thinking up the next bigger and better thing for our lives.

I came across this passage during one of my quiet times this week: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).

In this case, the Apostle Paul is talking about having one goal, Jesus Christ and reigning with Him in Heaven.

Tying it all together

Is there a balance between the Sutra’s “being present at all times” and Paul’s “ultimate goal of Christ”?  I think there is.

This past week, when I found myself being frustrated and impatient with one of my realistic goals (hello…weight loss…thanks for reminding me unconscious brain), I stopped, grounded myself and meditated on my ultimate goal: Christ.

It’s like yoga keeps me grounded so I can remain present and keep my eyes on Christ.

Good yoga poses to contemplate dreams/goals: Siramba Srisasana (supported headstand) or Parsvritta Paddotonasana (wide-legged standing forward bend), to get your head closer to the ground — to help you center and feel grounded; and Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Savasana) to open your chest and look to heaven. Oh and Savasana, yeah…Savasana.

 

Do you have weird unconscious dreams?  Are you feeling frustrated about some dreams/goals that are taking too long to come into fruition?  How do you deal?

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Flexibility in Training

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Practice: Gentle practice centering around the neck, working into Fish pose and Shoulder Stand.

Inspiration: Flexibility in emotions, thoughts and life in general. ie. bending to be straight.

Life Lesson: I decided to take my daughter and niece to a children’s museum just a quick 40 minute drive up the freeway. The museum had rave reviews and an awesome website showing the fun attractions for my littles to enjoy. A 40 minute drive later…we find the museum is closed and in search of a new location.

Seriously!?! Well, (insert internal explicative here). So we stop at a gas station, grab a cheese stick for the girls and a Kind bar for me. I tell them, over our snack, that we’ll drive back home and go to the library. “Yay! Let’s go!” Their excitement baffles me.

They taught me a lesson in flexibility for sure.

I was grumpy for the rest of the day (could be from lack of carbs). But, the girls enjoyed the library and doing yoga with me, so I guess it wasn’t a total loss.

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Why do we hate Tess Holliday?

Image Credit: Torrid

Image Credit: Torrid

By now we’ve all seen her, Tess Holliday, the size 22 model.

She’s beautiful, don’t you think? When I read the articles and saw the magazine covers I was marveled by her gorgeousness. But it was all spoiled by reading the comments. People literally hate her and what she supposedly stands for: an unhealthy lifestyle.

Eat a salad; Go for a run, they said. Many commenters spouted nothing but negativity at this big beautiful woman.

But why? What is it about her that makes us, as a society, want to hurt her with hateful words and bigotry?

Here’s one reason:

Loving our bodies as they are, as Tess Holliday loves her body, means we’ve giving up on ourselves. It means we’ve given up on our health, on how we look, on our futures, on our love life, ect. etc. etc. Or that’s what we think, and it’s scary.

We (the collective we) hate Tess Holliday because we fear Tess Holliday.

Society tells us how we should look, how we should dress, and how we should live. If we follow these examples set by multibillion dollar corporations, then we will surely find happiness in this lifetime. But, if we embrace and celebrate our individuality, we’re doomed to live a life of ugliness and depression.

As all my years of yo-yo dieting were coming to a peak, I struggled with the idea of being healthy for health’s sake and not for the sake of losing weight. I thought if I started being kind to myself and letting myself experience grace, I would NEVER lose weight and it scared the Hell out of me.

Why? Because skinny = happy.

If I could just lose weight, I wouldn’t struggle with depression or confidence issues, I’d earn more money (because thin yoga teachers do), and I’d have more friends (because thin-happy people are more fun to hang out with).

Here’s the yogic truth in all of this: It’s a bunch of bull.

If I embrace my size 12, like Tess Holliday has embraced her size 22, and allow myself to be and feel beautiful what would happen? I’d obviously be eating cheese burgers and whole bags of chips at every meal. I’d never exercise and I’d generally stop caring about life all together.

Right?

No. Again, bull. You CAN embrace yourself no matter what size, or height, or awkward physical feature and STILL maintain a healthy lifestyle. In fact, if the goal is to really love yourself, you’d likely take better care of your body. The hard part comes in embracing yourself in this current moment and being kind to yourself through the whole process.

The real yogic truth comes in being in the NOW — living in the present moment. At this current moment, there is nothing I can do about being a little soft around the midsection. But I can love myself. I can love myself like Tess Holliday loves herself. In my mind she’s not promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. To me she is clearly promoting being beautiful in this moment, despite health and wellness goals. signiture copy copy

Because, Yoga: A story of body-hate, then love

urdvadahnurasana copyI have never been more excited about my yoga practice than I am right now.

In good ‘ole social media fashion, let me overshare my heart with you…

I, apparently, have had an emotional block, or disconnect with my yoga practice since, well, forever. I started yoga when I was 17, at the height of insecurities and body-hatred. I had recently lost about 40 pounds, and was looking and feeling smokin’. You see, my entire self-worth was wrapped up in how I looked.

My yoga practiced ebbed and flowed through college, marriage and first grown-up jobs. I was 27ish when I started giving yoga a second, deeper thought – when I thought maybe I’d like to teach. Even though it was close to ten years after I first discovered yoga, I still maintained all of my old insecurities (I could just hide it better), but I hated my body even more; because now I was sick and tired, and I didn’t know why.

All I knew was that I couldn’t sit behind a desk and keep my sanity any longer.

So, teacher training. Because, yoga.

I was still sick, and overweight. And public speaking was my biggest fear (second to giant house spiders). But through it all, teacher training lead me to diagnosing myself, which was confirmed by a real doctor, AND the training seriously helped me overcome my fear of speaking.

So then, teaching.

I was on the mend physically (minus lingering baby and thyroid weight) and I was ready to take on the yoga teaching world! I quickly landed a teaching gig and was given the opportunity to teach as much as I wanted. That was exciting.

But then, teaching.

I equally loved and feared my students. To be honest, I got a lot of judgement from students who thought a yoga teacher should look a specific way. It hurt, a lot. But I also had a group of AMAZING, supportive students who I loved. They encouraged me, and so I kept teaching.

But, I found myself in a giant rut. I was teaching in a way that catered to the athletic, able-bodied student, because I didn’t want to be judged. I think, however, teaching in this manner burnt me out, because my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t realize how damaging and how draining it was to please a group of people who were not even my target. I wanted to quit so. many. times. I am ashamed to share that, honestly.

And then, body positive yoga.

One day, feeling down about myself, I started looking at Instagram photos for the campaign #whatayogilooks and #yogaforall. These yogis defy the U.S. standards of a beautiful yogi and can do some amazing things with their bodies. Instagram led me to blogs, which lead me to some blogging of my own, which lead me to the Yoga for All teacher training (which starts this Tuesday!!).

These past few weeks of focusing my intentions on body positivity and teaching in a more gentle and loving way, has rekindled my passion for teaching yoga. I’ve literally done a home practice every day for about two weeks straight (I was only required to do 4 days a week during training)! I am just so excited to have an area of focus for my teaching. My goal is to reach those people who have felt excluded by yoga “standards.”

If you’ve been looking for a place in the Longview/Kelso area to do yoga; if you’ve felt excluded in a yoga class; if you’re worried you won’t fit in or won’t be able to do the poses; come try out Yoga with Shawnee at Summit Studios! I will do my best to accommodate you, to modify you, and to make you feel welcomed.

I am SO looking forward to starting the Yoga for All training and saturating my classes in body-positivity and yoga inclusivity!

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