Sailing unchartered waters

Today I’d like to share for Diabetes Awareness Month, a bit more about how diabetes affects the nervous system and why yoga is so beneficial.

Imagine…you’ve lost a ton of weight, been super thirsty, you can’t stop peeing and your exhausted. You know somethings wrong but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Then BOOM you are in the hospital hooked up to drips and on the fastest learning curve of your life. Your family and friends can’t believe it and neither can you. Or if you’re like me, you find out from your GP that your blood sugar is not in range as it should be and it looks suspiciously like diabetes. Whether you have a sudden diagnosis, or gradual diagnosis, the shock to the nervous system is the same.

Your life as you knew it is gone. Without any prior skills to rely on you have to navigate dangerous medication (too much or too little could put you in a coma or kill you), change your diet and exercise habits and possibly even rethink your vocation. From the moment you wake up till the moment you go to sleep and even through the night, vigilance is key. Diabetes technology has definitely reduced the burden but it isn’t a cure.

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Every single day the body is in hyperdrive at some point or other. It’s especially notable when it comes to low and high blood sugars. As I’ve experienced since my horrible hypo less than a week ago and my rebound high which keeps on keeping on, being in range and giving my nervous system the chance to rest and regroup has been just that little bit more out of reach.

Autonomic nervous system dysregulation (spending more time in the fight or flight reflex and not being able to calm down and rest and digest) can be the cause of more erratic blood sugars. So taming the beast is always the first order of business. I.e lots of breath work, restorative yoga and other nervous system balancing modalities.

One of the quickest and most specific tools I use is full complete breathing. This calms and soothes, enhances digestion, massages all the abdominal organs and gives the mind a focus out of its habitual tendency to identify with conscious stressful thoughts. When we have an extreme low or high it’s is not necessarily something we tap into consciously, having a quick fix on hand that can be done anywhere, is invaluable.

Just like I used the Ujayii breath to calm me down during my low, full complete breath can be practiced at any time. It’s even helpful when you’re not in a stressed state . It can be done lying down or sitting in a chair. You can even spend some time with your hand on your belly while standing if you can’t get into the other positions. The more tools we have to bring our nervous system back to balance the easier it is to navigate future challenges and teach the body to do what it’s designed to do, relax.

Below is a short video where I share the practice. Give it a try and let me know how it feels.

See you tomorrow

with great respect…


4 ways to chill out over the Holidays

As Christmas day looms I’m wondering if your inbox is like mine,  crammed with thank you’s, seasons greetings and messages to get in that last minute shop for loved ones. It’s intense! All I want to do is curl up with a good book and “for getta about it”….easier said then done!

Luckily my trusty mat is in range, inviting me to hop on at a moments notice, in case it all gets too much. I love that yoga is free, available any time and guaranteed to take the edge off. So what’s the best kind of practice for this time of year? Hands down it has to be Restorative yoga.

Restorative yoga is a fancy name for lying around in passive positions with various props including blocks, bolsters, ropes, chairs and a wall. I first came across restorative yoga in my late twenties, back then it was part of the Iyengar yoga system designed to help you get into postures you couldn’t necessarily do on your own. I can vividly remember being strapped to a chair in some backbend or other and thinking either I’m really desperate to get this yoga thing, crazy or both…

Sometimes its easy to forget how beneficial it is to be passive in the postures. We spend so much time thinking of Yoga as a workout. Perhaps using the practice to increase our insulin sensitivity or lower our blood glucose level.

But what about our stress?

Restorative Yoga is all about dumbing down stress. When you stop and hold a pose without effort and focus on your breath, you’re heart rate and blood pressure lower, cortisol levels decrease and vitality returns to the whole body/mind system.

Incorporating a restorative yoga practice into your weekly routine can make a huge difference to your overall wellbeing. Taking a break from relentlessly high expectations is more important than having a perfect A1c.

So What are my 4 favourite poses to chill down when it all gets too much? Check out this simple routine below…

Wishing you a very beautiful holiday season… Rachel

restorative yoga for Diabetes

Child pose variation

Come to sit upright on your heels with your knees together
Keep the big toes touching as you take your knees wide apart
Gentle walk your hands forward
Extend your spine while drawing the shoulder blades onto your back, hands are shoulder width apart
Rest your forehead on the floor, if it’s uncomfortable turn your cheek to one side
Stay here for a few minutes

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Reclining wind expeller

Lie on your back with the legs extended and parallel to each other
Feel length from the crown of your head to your tailbone
Bend the right knee and  interlace the fingers over the shin
Gently draw the thigh towards your chest
Keep your heel in line with your knee
Flex evenly through both feet, activating the legs
Draw the tailbone down to the floor, feeling the lower back lengthening along the floor
As you breathe in and out feel the right side of your belly receiving a deep massage
Hold here for 5-10 breaths
Release the leg and repeat on the other side

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Inverted leg posture

Lie on your back have your knees bent and feet flat
Exhale draw your knees to your chest
Inhale and extend your feet to the sky
Rest your arms alongside your body
Hold here for 10-15 breaths
Your abdominals will be gently engaged
To finish exhale and bend the knees back to the chest
Lower the feet to the floor
Rest here for a moment knees touching and feet wide apart

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Lie on your back bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together
The feet can be close to the groin or further away depending on what’s comfortable
Close your eyes place your hands on your belly
Breathe deeply and relax hold for 20 breaths