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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Why you couldn’t pay me to weigh myself.

Vashistasina in my space pants and feelin' fine.

Vashistasina in my space pants and feelin’ fine.

I don’t weigh myself. I don’t own a scale. I intentionally avert my eyes when being weighed at the doctor’s office. If I really wanted to I could get out my Wii Fit board and see the damage. But I don’t want to. I especially don’t want that damn little animated board telling me, “That’s overweight!”

Anybody ever flip off your TV? Cause I have.

I recently discussed this topic with a student of mine. We talked about how discouraging it is to see the number on the scale fluctuate: from day to day, from hour to hour. It’s like playing the happiness lottery. “Come on -1 pound, mama needs some chocolate!” I told my student how I refuse to get on the scale, and she told me I seemed to be pretty good about that kind of thing.

The truth is, I’m still learning to be “good” about that kind of thing.

Trying to undo 31 years of damage is going to be a life time of work, because until I can totally become immune to our society’s dysfunctional body image standards, my body-hate bucket will continue to be filled. Although, now, I imagine my bucket has a tiny, pin-point hole in the bottom, leaking out a little bit at a time.

I think I earned that pin-point hole about 2010 when I gave up dieting after reading “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. (Side note: I both recommend and do not recommend this book. Please see my brief notes after this post.)

Following a miscarriage in 2009 I gained a ton of weight, maybe 30 pounds, and honest to goodness I couldn’t figure out why. So I did what any girl would do, I worked my butt off. I ran a few miles every day, and kept my calorie intake to 1200-1400. I felt like crud and gained more weight.

That’s when in 2010 I read that book and gave up dieting. I finally discovered in 2011 it was a sluggish thyroid and Hashimoto’s disease to blame. I continued with my non-dieting mentality and was able to maintain my weight.

Fast forward to 2012 post baby, I did eventually lose my baby weight and most my thyroid weight with a paleo diet. I didn’t consider it dieting, however, because I ate as much as I wanted and felt very satisfied. I had my energy back, and felt semi healthy and normal.

But during this time, I did continue to weigh myself. I felt good physically, but I mentally and emotionally I still felt like a failure. I was still a chubby yoga teacher and I couldn’t quite get back down to my pre-thyroid disease weight. At times I wanted to give up teaching yoga, all because my self-worth is/was wrapped up in three little numbers.

I’ll admit, I have recently gained more weight. And I partially know why this time: Stress of a big move, stopped my paleo diet, thyroid numbers being off, discovering a new health issue, etc. But I don’t know how much weight and I really don’t care to know.

I have not weighed myself or looked at a scale for almost a year now. So I am oblivious to those three little numbers.

Here’s what I do know:

*I am WAY stronger than I was a year ago. Hello biceps!
*My belly is deflating due to merging back to a whole foods/paleo diet lifestyle and the plank challenge.
* I bought my first pair of patterned yoga pants, which are slightly bigger than the last pair I purchased, but I don’t care because I LOVE wearing them. They make me feel wonderfully geeky and happy.
*I love teaching yoga.
*My health journey and struggle with weight and body image can actually be very helpful for my clients who struggle with similar issues.

Instead of the scale I choose to measure myself by how I feel. I reflect on how much love, happiness and strength I have gained. And, in a practical sense, the way my pants fit is the best, least frustrating indicator of how I am doing in the weight management department.

Despite not weighing myself, these self-defeating thoughts still rear their ugly little heads, but after a good cry and some chocolate, I get over it a whole lot faster.

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**A note about “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. What I love about this book is that it can teach you how to know when you are truly hungry and truly full, which I do believe most of us have gotten away from. The book helps you overcome your fear of food being bad vs. good. There is also a helpful exercise helping you discover your real ideal weight. I found this to be pretty cathartic and eye opening. What I do not love about the book is that it doesn’t acknowledge food sensitivities or allergies, follows the government food pyramid, and doesn’t focus on a whole foods, clean eating diet. Let’s face it if I followed the government’s recommendation for portions, the Wii fit would be calling me obese. The science is from the 90s – when the whole low-fat thing was still a trend. They did just put out a new edition, but it doesn’t sound like the ancient science and food recommendations have been updated. Anyway, read at your own risk.

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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5 Reasons I Dumped Facebook and 5 Reasons I’m Still Glad I Did

I’ve decided that if I were going to name my blog or give my blog a theme, it would be centered around simplicity. And, maybe I’ll go that direction soon…maybe. I’ve been doing a lot of work in my life lately to get back to basics. I’ve been decluttering, organizing, consciously making an effort to chillax my routine at home, getting outside more, getting on the ground with my kids more, simplifying family vacations, pursuing my passions, and recently, I broke up with Facebook.

5 Reasons I Dumped Facebook(and 5 reasons I'm

Facebook and I had a 10 year relationship with a little bit of give, but mostly a lot of take. I’m only about a week into my post breakup, but I’m already feeling the benefits being free of such a controlling, and manipulating partnership.

Now, to be fair, I still have my Yoga with Shawnee facebook page and an organization’s page that I run. I also still have Messenger. Read all the way to the end for a couple quick tips on how to keep your business pages and your messenger account with all your contacts. While I still need my business pages, it’s the personal page that started showing its true colors and lead to our final goodbye. Here are 5 reasons why I dumped Facebooks and 5 reasons I’m still glad I did.

1. Save the drama for your Mama, you trolls!

Right!?! Political drama, religious drama, family drama, friend drama, drama of friends of friends. Ugh. Now, I’m not talking about the “I’m having a bad day to day” posts. Or, the “I could use some prayer for” posts. I’m talking about bashing each other’s political choice. Posting nothing but political commentary, which by the way is usually not backed up by reliable sources. Hence the term, commentary. News (I hate the news)! News that is all negative and fear-based and makes you want to lock yourself in your house. I’m talking about the he-said she-said posts. I’m talking about that long-lost cousin who randomly decides to harass you. Oh and the trolls. Don’t forget those evil little beasties who comment their little nuggets of nastiness, just to start a fight. Yeah, that kind of drama. Facebook= Drama x100

2.) Ohhh look at me. My life is perfect.

I know life is far from perfect for anyone. I know that everyone is fighting their own battles. But, yet, somehow I still fall into the comparison trap. Comparison is a natural human response, which I believed is stemmed from fear and jealousy. Facebook has this sneaky way of making me feel as though I’m not living up to a certain standard, that I don’t have enough, that my spouse or kids are not enough. Enough is enough. It’s seems like the simple solution is to just not compare myself to others. That’s actually one of my intentional life practices. But, seeing nothing but the perfect life people portray on Facebook, makes it difficult to shake that “My life sucks” feeling.

3.) We haven’t seen or talked to each other since grade school, and I didn’t really like you then, but cool let’s be friends!

We’ve all been there, friending someone we don’t really know or when we did know them, we didn’t really like them to begin with. It happens. I have found myself stuck in this perpetual cycle of realizing I don’t want to see pictures of kids and family I don’t know. So then, to not hurt feelings, I unfollow them. But, I ask, what is even the point of being friends? OR in a sub category, is that person you know, but lately you wish you didn’t. I’ve got loads of those. Unfollow!

4.) “Beware of The Plastics.” -Janis, “Mean Girls”

I’m an introvert, so I avoid superficial conversations and interactions like the plague. Facebook is one big superficial conversation. “Realness” is not allowed. There are these unwritten rules: Can’t post too many pictures of your kids; Can’t complain; Can’t post too often. Why would I want to be a part of the biggest superficial, Plastics party of the century? I only go to parties if I know and enjoy being around the people attending. Most of the people on my friends list do not fall under this category. AWKWARD!

5.) What time is it? Oh crap, I just spent the past hour on Facebook.

I’m embarrassed to admit, I spent WAY too much time on Facebook. Most the times I wasn’t even doing anything. I just scrolled and scrolled, mindlessly looking for a post I might have missed. Or sometimes I’d read through my own posts. Weird. It’s a big time waster. I realized I was browsing usually because I was bored or tired. Life is way too short.

Those are just a few of the reasons I felt compelled to give Facebook back it’s promise ring. Maybe I’ll go back in the future, but right now I’m enjoying not being a part of it. Here are some benefits I’ve already experienced in one week’s time:

  1. More time. I was spending about an hour (or more each day on Facebook). I still have Instagram, but it’s much too boring to look at for too long. Time is the most beneficial reason for me to ditch Facebook. And is helping me on my path of simplicity.
  2. I’m not looking at my phone. We have all heard that it’s not good for kids to be on devices and it’s not good for them to see us on them too much too. I’m happy to be setting a better example for my daughters.
  3. No more comparison, and no more superficial/dramatic interactions. YAY!
  4. Something to talk about. Now that my day or “big events” aren’t posted on Facebook, I actually have some things to talk about with people. My conversations will no longer go like this: “I went and did…” “Yeah I know, I saw it on Facebook.”
  5. I have to be more intentional about how I curb my boredom. I find myself reading more, and playing with my girls more. And, when I’m actually tired I might relax or take a little snooze.

Now to address the elephant in the room. You too want to leave Facebook but you have business pages and would like to keep your contacts on Messenger. I hear ya! It’s a simple fix, really.

First, you should know, that you can deactivate your Facebook and it doesn’t have to be permanent. To reactivate your account after you’ve deactivated, literally all you do is sign in with your previous email. That’s it. All your friends will still be there and all your content should still be there. If you are worried about your content, there is an option under settings + general settings to download your profile content, which includes posts, videos and pictures.

For my business pages all I did was create an alias personal profile page and made myself an admin. Now when I log into Facebook as my alias name, there is nothing there except Facebook urging me to friend someone. I can still access my business pages like always.

For Messenger when you click to deactivate you will have two options: Opt out of future Facebook emails (check that) and Opt out of Messenger (don’t click that). Simple. Mine still works as if I never left Facebook. Here is a link with more info: Fed up of Facebook, but want to keep Messenger? Here’s how to do it…

Side note: I really did make some great connections on Facebook, and was sad to leave. I have friends and family who I know will also miss seeing my posts, especially those who don’t get to see my daughters on a regular basis. But, in order to simplify my life, I really felt this was the best direction. I’m so glad I took the leap!

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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