The Book is Here!

Ok… here goes…. this is my first ever shameless self- promotion post.

My book, Yoga for Diabetes How to Manage your Health with Yoga and Ayurveda is in stock on Amazon and right now it’s on sale for $20.70 US that means $7 off the list price.

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This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! A chance to learn first hand how yoga can support you in living your best with diabetes. It doesn’t matter what sort of diabetes you have, your age or level of fitness you will love this easy to implement approach which includes the perfect tools to manage stress, reduce cortisol levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Find the right postural practice for you and your type of diabetes and learn basic breathing and concentration techniques to enhance happiness.

As I am currently in the US to promote the book you can also catch me live in stereo at an event in a city near you. Head to the events page to find out more

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And If you’re in or near Los Angeles why not come and join me for the official launch party at Mystic Journey Bookstore 6.30-8.30 pm in Venice.

I’ll also be talking about the book and my personal journey with diabetes on KTLA on Wednesday, October 11 at 9.45 am PST.  Tune in and be part of the virtual celebrations!

Besides all the exciting stuff to do with the book, my blood sugars have been misbehaving. My body craves routine, so early starts and late night flights are playing absolute havoc. Luckily I do practice what I preach so my twice daily yoga practice has been an absolute lifesaver. As I write, I’m back in range, but the reading below (on my way to the book launch at Book Passage in Corte Madera) was not ideal.

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I guess I just wanted to share that like anyone living with diabetes this is the reality.  Trying to think like a pancreas is no picnic.

And as I share in the book,

Throughout my life, I have always wanted to help others, but simultaneously found it difficult to take responsibility for helping myself. Taking up a yoga practice, eating wholesome and nurturing foods, living life with devotion and reverence are just some of the ways I consciously give back to myself on a day-to-day basis. My life as a yogi is not a fad. And having a disease like diabetes, I can’t afford to be part of a trend anyway. That’s why I feel strongly that the simplicity and discipline of yoga, plus the lifestyle guidelines from Ayurveda are the perfect starting point no matter what type of diabetes you have. The postural sequences, breathing and meditation techniques, thoughts on yoga and its deeper meaning, and the Ayurvedic lifestyle suggestions are there to support you in facing some of the challenges that come with the disease. And top of that list, of course, are stress and burnout. I am confident that like me you will discover that yoga is a life-changing and life-enhancing system. And a great friend and companion that will hold your hand through all the ups and downs you are bound to experience.”

With great respect,

rachel

Being a force for positive change

For most of my life, I’ve wanted to be a force for positive change. Instilled in me by my grandfather, he would often remind us how important it was to speak our minds and to question. He taught me to be respectful, thoughtful and to give back and never ever take privilege for granted. Everything can change in a heartbeat.

Last night, when I was sharing with a fellow type 1 friend about my upcoming online yoga challenge, she said: “this challenge is so needed in the world!” It was a sweet compliment but it made me think.

I’ve always seen yoga and yoga practices as life changing, transformative and something that anyone can benefit from. In fact, I can remember when I started teaching teachers I had this goal of training enough people so that everybody in the whole world would do yoga. Nearly 17 years later just about everyone in the world does do yoga.

Well almost.

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So besides all the hype, how can yoga make a difference? Why is it so needed? Because whether we live with a chronic disease or not. We are all suffering from stress and burnout. Everywhere we turn we are bombarded. Bombarded with must do’s and have’s. Sometimes trying to decide where to put my energy, money and time is enough to make me want to sit down, cover my ears and scream, “Enough!”

In my personal experience if yoga can offer one thing it’s simplification

When I keep things simple and eliminate the complications it gives me breathing space. Instead of long drawn out yoga postures which include bending into pretzel shapes. I do the same easy routine every day. It’s nice to add in a more complex move every now and then but I’ve learned it’s not necessary. Some forward bends before dinner and a few moments of quiet reflection prepare me for a good night’s sleep.

Living with diabetes means it’s even more important to stay calm and balanced.

As a yogi and yoga teacher, I’ve learned that understanding how the mind works is key in handling stress and achieving balance. When I first started practicing I learned to meditate and observe my thoughts. Later I learned that watching my thoughts (mindfulness) is just the beginning.

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Even more powerful is knowing who is having the thoughts. Knowing the thinker. No matter how big the thought, the thinker has to be there. Without the thinker what thought?

When life gets overwhelming reminding myself that I am the thinker of the thoughts, puts everything in perspective.

We spend our whole lives obsessed with our thoughts, trying to banish them or tame them. And when we can’t resolve the thoughts our mental health suffers. I can sometimes spend way too long obsessing about my thoughts about diabetes. The quicker I catch myself going off the rails the better. I like to think of it as fishing for thoughts. If a thought starts to swim away I catch it and hold it close. When you try to hang on to a thought it quickly dissipates. Thoughts are ephemeral like that. But when you try not to think about something all you do is think about it more.

Yoga is so powerful in meeting the mind head on. Instead of trying to squash thoughts we can focus on something like the breath, or a sound, or a posture or even work with hand gestures. There are so many ways to bring the mind into a one pointed focus. And the cool thing is that these practices are for everybody.

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When I tell people that I teach yoga I can get a variety of responses but the most common one is Yoga? I’m not good at that. I love sharing that yoga is so much more than the physical practice.

In general, the physical practice is designed to:

  • detoxify and purify the physical body bringing it back to its natural state.
  • help the mind to slow down

On a deeper level, yoga practice suspends for a moment all the ideas, thoughts and beliefs we have about ourselves. That’s why we feel so good when we finish the practice. All the thoughts we’ve been getting lost in seem to disappear and we feel calm and peaceful.

Once the nervous system gets the hint that we don’t always need to be in the stress response (fight or flight) we spend more time in the relaxed part of our nervous system.  This means our tendency to habitually react to stressful thoughts, events and experiences also relaxes. This is so helpful when we live with diabetes. The more I can look at the numbers on my meter and stay calm. The less I react to my feelings about diabetes and the better I feel no matter what’s happening.

When I was putting together my upcoming yoga challenge, Better Diabetes Management in 7 steps with Yoga, I thought about what sorts of things I wanted to share. Rather than making each step about a physical postural practice I wanted to focus on the core of what yoga actually does, balance and calm the nervous system.

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In the challenge I’ll be sharing:

About Ayurveda and how to discover your ayurvedic type

A short physical practice to improve circulation

Mudras (hand gestures) for balancing the emotions

How sound (mantra) works to heal the nervous system

A calming breathing practice that you can do anywhere anytime

How to give yourself a nurturing foot massage that promotes deep sleep

And a creative mandala (yantra) exercise to inspire gratitude and devotion

These are the practices I do every day to be a positive force for change in my own life with diabetes and I am so excited to share them with you too.

If you’d like to join the challenge its free and you can sign up here.  

 

 

Obviously I love Yoga

Blogging about Diabetes isn’t always easy. Sometimes I find my momentum waning. Like this week, when my email crashed and my camera wouldn’t load data onto my computer and my blood sugars decided to go up for no known reason.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that even though I want to quit… diabetes never does!

I find it fascinating to think that this disease has been with us for who knows how long. In India, they’ve been treating diabetes for over 5000 years!

When I went to India, just after my diagnosis (literally 3 days after) the cook at the retreat center where I was staying worked diligently with me to keep my blood sugar in range. Back then we didn’t know it was type 1, but the things she did worked. I ate something called Bitter Gourd every day, drank potions, modified my diet and massaged myself daily with sesame oil, Abhyanga, to relax my nervous system.

One of the most challenging things for anyone who has to mimic the action of their own pancreas is to keep stress to a minimum. Those initial days in India helped me to establish a daily routine with food and exercise…Yoga being the biggest support.

Like everyone else, it’s not easy to stay motivated, I find that when I step onto my mat it takes a few moves before I’m in the zone. I can’t say I directly notice an instant effect on my blood sugars from the practice but I do believe it trickles down. Overall my levels are stable and manageable because the practices of yoga enable to me to relax and be myself.

Obviously, I love yoga!

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What if there was an easy way to feel better, have extra confidence and be more relaxed about managing your diabetes?

Yoga absolutely helped me and I’m convinced it can help you too

Join me on September 1, 2017 for my free yoga challenge

”  Better Diabetes Management in 7 steps with Yoga”

With great respect…Rachel

 

Yoga for Diabetes is not one size fits all

When I first started yoga in my teens I knew very little about the postures and practices. I would throw myself into the practice and hope for the best. Some days the practice made me feel great and other days it seemed to make me feel worse. It took almost ten years for me to learn that the type of yoga I was practicing wasn’t actually right for my type. Luckily providence steered me towards a teacher who knew exactly what I needed. He introduced me to the sister science of yoga, Ayurveda and encouraged me to slow down, cool down and practice poses that were nourishing to my system. Since my diagnosis, I’ve realised that there is a practice that’s perfect for my constitution and the type of diabetes I have. I’ve also learned that what might support me in lowering blood sugar might have the opposite reaction in someone else.

After a big spike in blood sugar levels this morning I did this VLOG  to share a bit more about why yoga for diabetes is not one size fits all.

If you’d like to find out more about Ayurveda and your constitution you can get the first chapter of my book for free here

with great respect…Rachel

Staying Balanced

It’s been pretty quiet over here on the blog. Mainly because I’ve been in flux. First there was the awesome safari in Kruger national park and then flying home to Australia, recovering from jet-lag, preparing for my upcoming yoga teacher training and generally adjusting insulin, routines and more to the the new environment.

rachel-2016-2-2Throughout all the change my yoga practice keeps me stable. That and my strict adherence to routine.  Knowing my ayurvedic type means knowing what will easily imbalance me and what will easily bring me into balance.

Travel and change are some of the biggest hurdles when it comes to staying balanced as they increase vata dosha. Vata is the combination of air and space in the system. When we have too much we experience things like insomnia, anxiety, a feeling of being spaced out and difficulty concentrating. Physically the skin dries out, we suffer from constipation and our joints tend to pop and crack. Excess vata can also cause erratic blood glucose levels. Bringing the vata back into balance is good for everyone whether you live with diabetes or not. flower-offering-the-photo-forestBesides, eating well, sleeping at least 7-8 hours and drinking plenty of water I make sure I’m really warmed-up before starting my postural practice. Repeating movements that flow on the breath is a great way to start.  Lately I’ve been putting together short sequences on my iPhone and posting them on Instagram and Facebook just for fun. The one below is one of my favourite ways to get warm quick.

Check it out and let me know what you think…and if you feel inspired and would like to do more you can get a free yoga class here.
With great respect…Rachel

Do your best, get feedback and begin again

“Again! Let’s take it from D.” The young conductor was standing in front of a world class orchestra and a world famous conductor, my Dad and about to cast the first downbeat.

Young conductors know that this is the only way to improve. They do their best, get feedback and begin again. Watching the class and listening to my Dad’s comments it hit me; he has worked hard like this his whole life.

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When I was little, my dad was often hunched over a score at the piano making pencil markings, or waving his arms around with headphones on. I knew that we were supposed to be quiet and patient while Dad was studying, but I never quite ‘got’ why. I attended a dizzying amount of concerts and rehearsals as a kid and it all seemed so effortless.

It’s only now as an adult, living with diabetes, that I get it. What appears normal to others is actually a well thought out micromanaged existence designed to give the appearance of effortlessness.  If you knew that a conductor stopped the orchestra multiple times to correct a tempo, adjust the volume, or ask for more emotion, I wonder how you might listen to the final performance.

Knowing what goes on behind the scenes with my Dad makes me more sensitive and compassionate. These guys have worked their butts off. I also understand that making music is a true labor of love. Musicians use their bodies, their arms, legs, lips and voices to produce sound and hours of practice and effort takes its toll. Necks get sore, lips wear out, elbows get strained. But the orchestra keeps on going. The music survives and we the audience are entertained. It’s all worth it in the end.

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As someone who definitely micromanages their diabetes, I can relate. I’m not taking injections for meals yet, but I’m definitely on the verge. And I’m busy learning from my peers. I have to admit not only do I spend hours on my yoga mat, but an equal amount of hours reading articles on diabetes, chatting in facebook and twitter groups and staying abreast of the latest management strategies. Ideally I’d love to sit in on a master class with some of the greats.

Then last week it happened. I caught up with Hanna Boethius, a coach, writer and speaker who has lived with type 1 Diabetes for over 30 years. She offers motivational and inspiring ways to bring about change in diabetes management and has a profound understanding of how nutrition and lifestyle choices can balance diabetes.

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The first thing Hanna said to me, when I shared how often I check my blood sugar, was to remember that long acting insulin just slowly trickles through hour after hour. Without fast acting on board, I won’t suddenly drop low. If it hasn’t done it over the last 18 months, it’s not going to suddenly start now. With a gentle smile she suggested I trust my body more and give my fingers a rest.

We also discussed food and low carb diets. We both agreed that it has helped us immensely. But we also agreed it’s not for everyone. After nearly an hour and a half of sharing our insights on food and yoga in diabetes management, Hanna suggested we offer up our conversation as a webinar/google  hangout. We’d already planned a workshop in Zurich on how food and yoga can control diabetes, but thought it would be even better to spread our ‘masterclass’ to the worldwide DOC ( diabetes online community)

Hanna truly lives what she shares, which became even mores obvious when I headed over to her gorgeous and welcoming home on Lake Zurich for our webinar. She complained a little at the size of her kitchen, as it was too small for the amount of food they love to prepare at home, but we agreed that having a beautiful place makes up for it. She also shared with me later, as she walked me back to the train, that living in Switzerland has its perks when it comes to insurance. “I can have the sorts of medicines and equipment as I want and need it.”  I admit I’m envious. In Australia so many things aren’t covered (like CGM’s) and I would definitely have more confidence with my management if I knew I could afford to.

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Riding home after our webinar, reflecting on what I had learned from Hanna I thought again about my Dad and his mastery. When he steps out on stage and seamlessly conducts, the orchestra becomes one. One sound, One voice.

The word Yoga, as I described it in our webinar, also means oneness, wholeness. Understanding that the body is not separate from creation. Rather we are inseparably part of creation. And we can’t get out of creation either. Even if you get in a spaceship and head to Jupiter you’re still in creation.

With chronic illness we often isolate ourselves or feel like we’ve done something wrong. But the truth is there is no such thing as imperfection in creation. There’s just variations on a theme. In music those variations are celebrated, played with and teased out.

That’s how I work with my diabetes management as well.  In an upcycle (where my levels are stable) I think about what’s working and try and repeat that. In a downcycle (where my levels are more erratic) I can come back to what worked before or try something different to start again.

I can’t stress enough that no matter where you are on your journey with diabetes it’s important to reach out, be creative and keep exploring.  It’s something I learned from Dad when I was quite young and something I’m deeply grateful for today…

If you’d like to learn more about how food and yoga can help you control your diabetes check out our webinar below and if you want  to watch my awesome Dad go here

We’d love to hear what you think! Leave a comment below or send me a message and if you’d like a free copy of the first chapter of my new book click here

 

Travel ain’t for sissies

It’s been a while so I’ll cut to the chase. I’ve been in South Africa for two weeks and besides the stunning landscape, incredibly pure air and peace and quiet, my body has been on strike. Within three days of arriving I had a head cold, outrageous levels and my internal plumbing backed up. I’m using a euphemism to save face but seriously, international travel ain’t for sissies.

Just to set your mind at ease my levels have returned to normal and my cold is gone. But my digestion has been slow to move. I’m chalking it up to the drier environment (we are in a Mediterranean climate here), the change in food and the fact that travel can rough things up quite a bit.

Now that I’ve totally exposed myself and the machinations of my digestion, I thought I’d share with you a sequence which has helped me to get things moving again. It’s fast paced and you will need some knowledge of yoga postures to move through it, but it definitely works. It’s also a great abdominal work out!

Check it out and let me know what you think

with great respect…Rachel

I can’t do it alone!

Why does it take crisis to realise we can’t do it alone? Even though we come here and leave here all by ourselves, the reality is, we can’t survive without the touch, love, friendship and support of others. It’s primal and it’s necessary.

Living with a chronic condition makes things even tougher. No-one can know the heart wrenching emotions, the frustration, the feelings of helplessness. Yet we soldier on, smiling, laughing even being there for our friends. People think we’re strong, amazing, they admire our resolve. They think we can do or be anything.

How many times have you gone home after a social outing and thought. “ This sucks, it’s hard, I’m so tired of having to be in control, when it’s so out of my control.”

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I’m writing this because this is how I felt for 6 years after my diagnosis. I was the only one I knew living with diabetes. I didn’t reach out once. I pretended I was normal and thought that if I tried hard enough I’d stop having diabetes. Heck it wasn’t even there. I fooled everyone else too. My friends and family saw me struggling but no-one thought I couldn’t beat it. Once my brother was brave enough to say, ‘Why don’t you just suck it up and go on insulin?’ My angry reply? ‘It’s complicated OKAY !’

Looking back I was misinformed, living in isolation and believing the stories I made up in my head.

Yoga definitely helped. It gave me breathing space. It calmed my nerves. It helped me to grieve. The minute I got on the mat and started stretching and bringing my mind to my breath. I came out of isolation. I felt connected, peaceful.

And yoga helped me to reach out. Surely there was someone else out there like me who was living with diabetes and loved yoga. My first attempts at connection were modest. I looked online and found someone. She looked like a nice person. I sent her a message. I waited for a reply.

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We made a connection, swapped stories and I followed the thread. When you try hard enough to thread an eye through a needle eventually it works. And in the process of stitching gradually all the little pieces of fabric come together into a fabulous garment. That’s the miracle of sewing, what appears seperate becomes whole.

With yoga it’s the opposite. The true purpose of the practice is not to stitch up all the little pieces till you reach a point of wholeness.  The practices of yoga are the reminder that you are nothing but wholeness, completeness with or without the practice.

What I had to come to terms with in my own life was that isolating myself wasn’t actually going to help me accept my diagnosis. I had to get that I couldn’t do it alone. I needed help and I needed to ask for it too.

And so here I am. I’ve spent over a year working on a book which shares the depth of my personal journey from diagnosis to acceptance with an in depth guide as to how yoga helped me do it.

A how to guide for anyone wanting to bring yoga into their daily diabetes management plan. To get the book published I need help, yours!

If you love yoga like I do and want other people with diabetes to benefit then I’d love you to come onboard and  pledge your support. You don’t have to have diabetes or even know someone with diabetes to get behind the project. Every little donation counts.

I truly can’t do it alone.

Want to know more? Check out the video below and visit www.pozi.be/yoga4diabetes

What are your non-negotiables ?

Hello 2016! I wish I could say the year started off all calm and cosy, but it’s taken me nearly two weeks to get my levels down after our christmas day celebrations. Don’t even asked me why…  sometimes I just have to give myself a break and be okay about swimming upstream. Amidst the pure frustration of looking at numbers I do not like I’ve realized there are some things that I can rely on.  These are my non-negotiables and I’m absolutely sure they keep me anchored amidst my personal version of diabetes distress.

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I’m a stickler for routine. According to ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, one of the best ways to stay balanced and grounded is to create a routine and stick to it. Go to bed around the same time each night and wake up around the same time each morning. I say around because we can’t always predict when we’ll wake up or get tired. What I have noticed though, is that once you tell the body to sleep and wake up at specific times it actually does it. If you show the body whose boss it will acquiesce.

Be prepared with food. Life is so busy that skipping a meal or not having something healthy on hand can either make or break you. Planning out your meals and being prepared means you can go anywhere, be anywhere and relax. I can’t think of anything more stressful then being out somewhere and there’s absolutely nothing I can eat. I’m talking road stop, in the middle of nowhere and carbs carbs carbs. My non-negotiable is to always have snacks on hand that I like and make me feel good. A few months ago I wrote up a recipe for Bliss balls during diabetes blog week. These babies go with me everywhere and are packed with protein and good fats.

Get into an exercise regime that works for you and do it every day. The whole exercise insulin thing is quite a mystery. It takes time to find out how exercise affects your levels. And there are so many factors at play. For some people exercise reduces levels drastically, for others it levels everything out and for some it pushes levels up. It’s not a one size fits all.  Checking your levels before and after exercise and testing how exercise affects you at different times of the day can really help to give you more assurance that you’re not going to go low or high. I do a breathing practice in the morning, take a walk late afternoon and then do a short twenty minute yoga practice before dinner. How do I find the time? I just do. It’s my non negotiable. Yoga brings my mind and body together into a continuous stream of presence. Being present to what is happening in my body draws me out of fearful and distressing thoughts. If I didn’t give myself that luxury every day I don’t think I’d cope as well as I do.

My last non- negotiable is making as much time available as possible for fun. Fun could be anything. Right now it’s my addiction to watching the TV series, Nashville. I never thought I’d be a country music fan, but I’m having so much fun. I’m also loving summers here in Australia and a little afternoon walk through a rainforest to the beach. A simple swim and laugh with my beloved is priceless.

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With all the hype around the start of the year, new years intentions and all that jazz, we know that there’s nothing new about managing diabetes. But what you can do is make a fresh start and decide to add something new, creative and supportive to your daily management plan. That’s where Yoga comes in.  Yoga is so much more than a practice, its meaning and purpose is to bring you home. Home to your body, your breath and the simplicity of being. Being yourself.

So did I mention that yoga is my biggest non negotiable? That’s why I’ve spent the last year writing a book about how yoga can be the perfect compliment to your daily diabetes management plan. I’m in the final stages of production and I’d love you to be involved. I’m launching a crowdfunding campaign in late January so that you can pre-order copies of the book . I’d be thrilled if you would help me help people with all types of diabetes to get on top of their game.

If you’re interested in getting in on all the prelaunch excitement, I’ll be sending out emails to let you know when and how you can be involved.  Sign up here to find out more.

In the mean time. I’d love to know… what are your non-negotiables?

with great respect… Rachel

Do You Love a Challenge?

I’m in Switzerland to teach Yoga at the moment. I’ve travelled for most of my life and have always enjoyed the different experiences that travel engenders. I even secretly enjoy the packing and unpacking. But since my diagnosis in 2008 travel has forced me to go way beyond my comfort zone.

At first I had to watch my blood sugar like a hawk.  It was like walking on the edge of a slip stream. I didn’t have the help of Insulin, so all I knew was that If I stayed on a strict diet I could keep things in range.

Now imagine you’re a yoga teacher, you teach on weekends and are hosted by a variety of studios, some of whom you’ve never been to before. Not only do you teach in western countries like Australia and Europe you travel to India and Bali flying between 12- 24 hrs to get there. The diabetic meals on planes suck, so you travel with pre-cooked food and as soon as you hit the ground, you head to the nearest supermarket to stock up. And you hope and pray that the apartment you went to extra trouble to rent has decent cookware and a working fridge.

It’s not the ideal scenario for anyone, let alone a clean living, healthy yogini whose diabetic to boot!

I used to  tell my students and hosts that I had “ blood sugar “ issues. Then a bit later I admitted I was pre diabetic, emphasising that I had high hopes that it could be reversed. It was hard not to feel ashamed or guilty every time I taught.

But now thats all changed.

8 months on Insulin and I feel liberated! It’s like I’ve taken my top off and gone braless. I feel completely shameless in my classes sharing that I am an Insulin dependant Type 1 diabetic. And further to that it’s been incredible to have energy again. For the last 6 years I was practicing on empty. Trying to cultivate energy I didn’t have. Dragging my suitcase on and off train platforms and feeling somewhat of a fraud while I touted the benefits of Yoga.

Recently I had a really great conversation with Dr. Jody Stanislaw, an american naturopathic doctor who also happens to be a Type 1 diabetic. She has had profound results in supporting people to achieve optimum A1c levels. “ You know Insulin is your friend, because it preserves and protects your beta cells,” she shared while we were discussing the topic of exercise and diabetes, “ If you’ve got them you might as well hang onto them.”

I knew exactly what she meant. Once I started on long acting Insulin, my blood sugar levels changed dramatically. I felt like my cells did a happy dance and went back to business. I’ve become more sensitive in my practice again and I can feel how food, exercise and sleep are affecting my system. Before I was sensitive to my detriment. Everything I did felt like an attack on my immune system. Even the thought of trying to change was exhausting.

It’s been quite a learning curve keeping up my commitments as a traveling yoga teacher and educating myself on the ins and outs of managing blood sugars while on insulin.

But hey I Love it!

It’s why I chose to focus on challenging yoga postures and practices for this current tour.  I mean, how fun is it to master a tricky arm balance or handstand when you never thought you could. Or for beginners finally being able to stay in down dog for more than a few seconds without collapsing in a heap.

If you feel like joining me for a more challenging practice this week head over to AirYoga’s online studio and try the Kapha Balancing Practice…. with great respect Rachel

kapha Balancing yoga practice with Rachel Zinman