I’m having a crap day. I know I shouldn’t start a positive blog about Yoga and Diabetes like that, but if I’m not real with myself who will be? I could blame my blood sugar levels, but I’m managing things quite well. I have no idea how fast my pancreatic function is declining and how much longer I’ll have before I am on a pump or multiple shots and I understand that I can live a normal happy life with my levels under control, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still feel frustrated and like things are beyond my control sometimes.
Being a dancer from a young age meant that I learned to take pride in being physically in control of my body. Every new step and achievement inspired grace and expression. As a young adult Yoga captured my attention because the movements were so precise and supportive to my overall health and longevity. Knowing that a posture was good for my body made me feel that I was in charge of my health.
As a mature adult, discovering that no matter what I had or hadn’t done has had no affect on the eventual demise of my pancreas, has been a huge let down. Many type 1 Diabetics report improved blood sugars, reduced stress levels and huge benefits from the practice of Yoga. A fellow friend and Diabetic suggested that because I do Yoga all the time I wouldn’t know how bad things were if I stopped. I have to agree, having done Yoga for over 30 years nearly every day, how could I possibly know whether the progression of the disease has been affected.
What I do know from my deeper studies of Yoga and Yoga practice is that for the time that I am immersed in the practice, all the stresses and worries and fears and my need to identify with them are suspended. It’s in the suspension of the need to identify with myself as “this or that” that I remember my true nature. Stress melts away when there is no “I” or “me” .
In any moment of happiness who do I need to be? Does a disease identify me? Or do I drag the label onto myself?
I see Yoga as something which teaches my mind how to come out of its preoccupations with thoughts, it gives it something to do, like physical postures, breathing practices, repetitive sounds ( mantras) and many more focussing and calming techniques.
I can clearly see amidst my bad mood that it’s a choice to identify with the body and all its aches and pains or to take a step back and remind myself I HAVE a disease, I can never BE the disease.
Below is a simple breath balancing practice that you can do anywhere anytime to come back to yourself…. with great respect Rachel
Sit comfortably, spine long
Extend the arms out at shoulder height
Bring the four fingers together and extend the thumbs upwards
Cross the arms and place the four fingers under the armpits with thumbs still pointing upwards
Close the eyes
Relax the elbows and breath normally
Feel the breath pressure even in left and right sides of the chest
Breathe as fully as you can and bring all your awareness to the ribcage as it expanding and releases
If you feel like one hand is receiving more breath pressure then the other, gently open your eyes look down at the forearm that’s on top and place it underneath the other with the hand back underneath the armpit
When the breath becomes balanced move back to your original arm position
Your breath will naturally become stiller and your mind will become calm
You can practice this technique for as long as you like
When you are ready, release your hands down to your thighs and gently open your eyes