Routine, we love to hate it, especially with a demanding disease like Diabetes which requires hyper-vigilance. No sane person would set their alarm to wake through the night to check their blood sugar, diligently count carbs before a meal or force themselves on the treadmill at 9 pm. But we do it because without the effort? The science speaks for itself.
So how can we turn a have to into a want to. This is where the sister science of Yoga, Ayurveda takes centre stage. The word Ayurveda means the science of life. As a traditional Indian method of healing, it uses the natural world to help us understand what creates balance and imbalance.
Ayurveda works with the five elements; earth, water, fire, air and space. We have all 5 elements in our constitution but usually only two hold the limelight.The combination of elements are called Doshas. Vata dosha being the predominance of air and space, Pitta dosha, fire with a small amount of water and Kapha dosha, the predominance of water and earth.
It follows suit that Diabetes is not a one size fits all disease. In medical terminology we have type 1 (Juvenile onset) Type 2 ( Diet and lifestyle related) and 1.5 LADA ( Late Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood) and as I write more types of diabetes are being categorised.
In Ayurveda, Diabetes is classified by the Doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Kapha Diabetes is treatable through diet and exercise. Pitta Diabetes can be controlled with strict management where as Vata Diabetes is much harder to treat and stabilise My understanding after working with several different Vaidya’s ( ayurvedic doctors) is that both Vata and Pitta Diabetes deplete the nervous system. Whereas Kapha Diabetes clogs the system and is a disease of excess.
So what simple things can we do everyday to bring harmony and balance to our lives?
In Ayurveda, setting a regular rhythm is key. In our fast paced life it’s easy to ignore our natural rhythms . We go to bed late, wake up late, eat on the go, spend too much time on devices and work at odd hours. With a disease which is already depleting and/or clogging our systems it’s doubly challenging and we feel pressured to get it right.
Here are three simple ayurvedic practices you can implement right now no matter what your constitution.
1. Wake up before the sun rises and greet the day with gratitude. Rising before the sun means you will have more energy available to you throughout the day. At dawn the prana (life energy) is still low in the atmosphere and easily absorbed by the body. Perfect for Type 1’s who need to build energy. For Type 2’s it’s a great time for dynamic breathing or a beach walk.
2. Sip hot water instead of tea throughout the day. Plain hot water is cleansing and eliminates toxins and is also warming and nurturing. For Type 1’s it lubricates and soothes the nervous system, for Type 2’s it eliminates accumulated waste.
3. Give your self a nurturing foot massage before bed. No matter what your type, massaging the feet before bed balances the nervous system and promotes sound sleep. In Ayurveda specific oils are used depending on your constitution. But to keep it simple any plain massage oil will work or any cream you use to keep your feet soft especially if you suffer from skin cracks or neuropathy. Make sure to massage the whole foot focussing on the pads of the feet, around the heel and achilles tendon and between the toes.
Implement these three simple practices every day and notice how you feel and stay tuned for more Ayurvedic tips along the way…with great respect Rachel
Wouldn’t that be the best if one breath really melted all the stress away? In Yoga it is said that if one is able to breathe easily without any discomfort then the body is in complete harmony and health. For most of us it’s hard to know what our breath is doing from moment to moment. Every thought, emotion or situation elicits a corresponding breath. Have you ever noticed how you breathe in a traffic jam? Take a moment right now and notice your breath; is it soft and slow? Fast and tense? Is it easier to breathe into the chest or belly? There is never a problem with our breath it does what it does through years of habitual responses to the everyday stresses that life presents. But if you watch a baby’s natural breath you’ll see it rests in the belly.
Abdominal breathing is the most healing and calming breath and perfect for settling us down. Teaching the body to breathe as fully and completely as possible using both abdominal breathing and chest breathing balances the nervous system. A chest breath engages the sympathetic nervous system, the energising part of the system and the abdominal breath activates the parasympathetic nervous system or the relaxed part of the system. Balance between energy and relaxation brings a sense of calm to the body, mind and emotions. Qualities needed to deal with a challenging and sometimes frustrating disease like Diabetes.
Follow the photos and instructions below to learn a Full Complete Yogic Breath. Even practicing this for a few minutes when you first wake up or at the end of the day will remind your body to breathe better in times of stress… have a beautiful breathing day… with respect Rachel
Lie on the back with knees bent feet slightly forward of the hips. Place both hands on the abdomen, tips of the middle fingers touching. Become aware of the breath. Notice the inhale and the exhale
On the inhalation expand the abdomen so that the fingers come apart. On the exhalation feel the abdomen releasing and relaxing, fingers coming together. Repeat this a few times
Place your hands on the sides of the ribs. Have your thumbs at the back of the ribcage and your four fingers at the front
On the inhalation feel how the sides of the ribs expand and lift. On the exhalation notice how the ribs come together and the abdomen relaxes as per above. Repeat a few times
Place one hand on the belly and one hand just below the collarbones
On the inhalation feel the abdomen expand, the side ribs expand and lift and the upper chest and collarbones lift. On the exhalation, feel the abdomen; ribcage and upper chest relax all at the same time. One movement melting into the next. Practice this Full Complete Breath a few times. Then relax and come back to a natural breath
Happy New Year! It’s the beginning of another year and like everyone I am so excited to implement some new routines and try to let go of some challenging habits. I learned long ago that New Years Resolutions don’t really work. In the short term they might motivate us back to an exercise program or encourage us to change our diet but ultimately we want to make a lasting change; one that can carry us past the initial excitement of trying something new.
I always start the year with a beautiful meditation to set my intention. An intention is different to a resolution. An intention gives you room to breathe. You might have the intention to check your blood sugar more often, be more vigilant with counting carbs or even work on your emotional relationship to your health. An intention says, “I’ll do my best” rather than “I must get this right”. In Yoga when we practicing a posture if we feel we need to resolve the pose it will actually limit us. Having the intention to do our best means we may not do it perfectly but eventually we will learn to surrender to what is.
Meditation practice works in the same way. If you have always avoided meditation because you think you need to stop thinking, or you can’t sit still or meditation just isn’t for you. Think again. Meditation is actually concentration and studies have found that two factors need to be present in order to elicit whats called the Relaxation Response. 1. You need to perform a repetitive activity. 2. With the intention to let go of the thoughts in the mind.
So why not join me in setting your intention for the New Year …. with great respect Rachel