Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2011, it wasn’t long before I noticed the powerful, positive benefits my yoga practice had on this condition and general sense of wellbeing. I have since become part of the NHS patient forum, have taken DAFNE, a week intensive course to learn about insulin dosage adjustment, and work closely alongside the NHS to plan workshops that reinforce their approach to diabetes education and care planning.
Yoga for Diabetic Management and Control Workshop
This half day/full day workshop is invaluable for starting on a lifelong plan of practice, which includes working through the complications associated with this condition. This workshop is suitable for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics, and their carers.
The Yoga for Health and Education Trust: Diabetes Workshop
It is highly recommended for anyone in the health and fitness industry to understand diabetes and know how to handle a crisis, which could have extreme consequences if not acted on immediately. This workshop is designed for yoga teachers to aid their understanding of Diabetes, recognising signs for necessary action in the class, contra-indications, and exploring how yoga can be beneficial for better blood sugar control and general health.
“Diabetes is fast becoming an epidemic in the modern world. More than 230 million people worldwide have diabetes and according to the World Health Organisation, the number will increase to 333 million by 2025.”
Diabetes & Yoga Article
There is no doubt that diabetes is becoming an epidemic in the modern world. Did you think that diabetes just affected overweight people? Then think again! There are multiple causes for diabetes, and if you suffer severe stress over a prolonged period of time, you too could be at risk.
How could I be at risk?
Diabetes occurs when the level of glucose in the bloodstream is too high. This happens when the insulin making cells no longer work properly. The role of insulin acts as a key to unlock the energy from glucose, but there are a variety of reasons why the body can no longer manage this effectively so that the level of sugar in the blood continues to rise, until the onset of diabetes occurs.
There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is an auto-immune disease that destroys the insulin cells in the pancreas. It usually manifests in early life resulting in a life-long dependency of insulin therapy. Type 2 is the more common type of diabetes affecting 90% of all people suffering with diabetes. It has multiple causes that usually develop over many years, and is characterized by inadequate insulin production and diminished insulin action. The result is a higher level of glucose in the body than is healthy. The insulin making cells then have to work harder to produce insulin for converting the sugar into energy for the body. Eventually the insulin making cells become worn out, and less effective in their role. This leads to high blood sugar level, which, unless it can be reduced, will result in diabetes.
So where is this excess glucose coming from?
Often it may be through a poor diet that contains an excess of calories, combined with a lack of exercise which literally ‘gets the blood pumping,’ helping to keep the body working effectively at what it does naturally. But another major cause of diabetes is stress! When the body is stressed it produces hormones including cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), glucagen and the growth hormone. These stress hormones help the body cope with stress by increasing the production of glucose in the liver. The liver naturally produces sugar in the body, but when the body is stressed over a prolonged period of time sugar is constantly being pumped into the body internally, which will eventually result in inadequate insulin production. Cortisol and the growth hormone also reduce the effectiveness of insulin, resulting in diminished insulin action. Over a prolonged period of time, this over production of sugar, and diminished insulin action could result in Type 2 Diabetes.
This may be disturbing to read. How many of us honestly feel that we live in a stress-free zone, and eat healthily with the right balance of exercise taken every week? Many of us really do need to rethink our lives and how we manage our lifestyles before the body becomes at risk from becoming diabetic. This is a real problem in the modern world with very serious consequences, and as a Type 1 Diabetic, I’m here to recommend wholeheartedly that you take action right now.
How can we do this?
NHS diabetes professionals state that here is now very strong evidence to suggest that the development of Type 2 Diabetes can be delayed or prevented by regular exercise of which there are three main components: cardiovascular, muscle strength and flexibility.
Most forms of exercise improve cardiovascular fitness and develop muscle power but there is little emphasis on flexibility. However in recent years, the western world has discovered yoga as a powerful means to improve health and fitness. Yoga is an ancient science and practice that originated thousands of years ago in the East, ultimately for the purpose of spiritual evolution. Hatha yoga is one particular strand that is designed to maintain optimum health in the body and mind, and incorporates all the main components required to develop fitness. As well as improving fitness levels, it also works effectively on the parasympathetic nervous system, encouraging a relaxation response which can help to reduce the release of stress hormones into the body. Not only this, it also prescribes a holistic approach to life, so that through regular, mindful practice, a greater awareness of the body develops, reducing the desire for the consumption of unhealthy food substances, and yearn for more wholesome food and a healthier lifestyle. Balance is at the core of the practice of yoga in every aspect of our lives. The practice we do on the mat can help teach us how to strike a balance in our increasingly busy and stressful lives. In fact, the more busy our lives become, the more we really need something like yoga to help us find some balance and maintain a sense of equilibrium in body and mind.
Having taught as a certified yoga teacher for the past 15 years, I am happy to say that I have seen a great many people come to yoga, and derive great benefit from it. And having been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes within the past few years, experience of my own yoga practice has shown that yoga can be a powerful tool for strengthening the body and mind, helping to maintain good sugar levels and boost the immune system for general good health.
If you think you might like to try yoga, or would like more information about anything relating to this article, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You could make 2016 the start of your journey to good health, and resulting happiness, through the practice of yoga!