Is Yoga a Cure All for Diabetes

Is Yoga a Cure-All for Diabetes?

I am excited to share that a piece I wrote on Yoga and Diabetes has been published in a popular online Yoga Magazine. My passion is to support and inspire fellow diabetics of all types to try Yoga and see the myriad benefits. Hope you enjoy the piece…with great respect Rachel

Is Yoga a Cure-All for Diabetes?

I always thought that yoga was a cure-all. In fact I was absolutely convinced it was. That’s why it was so hard to believe that someone like me, a yoga teacher for over 23 years, could end up being a late onset adult type 1 diabetic.

But now, almost seven years since my diagnosis, I’m convinced that it’s because I’ve practiced yoga almost half my life that I’ve been able to a manage it so well.

Diabetes Is Complicated

Diabetes is a complicated disease. On the surface it seems to be about sugar. And it is, because the body runs on sugar and sugar feeds the brain.

But diabetes is really about how the sugar is managed by the body. Too much sugar in the body is like having too much acid in your car battery; it corrodes the machinery.

Read the full article on

Find the Balance between Activity and Rest

It’s Easter today and we just went through a huge storm. The roads were flooded and a local bridge nearly washed away. We drove past this morning to find huge logs and tree stumps wedged into its railings.

When I see Nature like that, at its wildest, it puts my need to control even the smallest detail of my life into perspective. Something my partner John often says is, “ We have no idea why we are here, or what creation is up to. What we do know is that we exist and to exist and be able to explore and enjoy creation is a huge blast. The biggest blast we’ll ever get! ”

It’s easy to forget all those things when we get caught up in the small stuff. And hey, we all do it. Even the smallest things can set me off when I am stressed.

Yoga for Diabetes

As Yoga teachers, when we go through our training, one of the most important lectures is about how Yoga benefits the Nervous System. Did you know that in our modern society we spend over 80% of our time in the fight or flight response? It’s supposed to be the exact opposite. We are designed to be in resting mode, able to perform detailed and focussed activity with the least amount of effort.

Back in the good old days the fight or flight mechanism was triggered when we had to make a sudden dash away from a Tiger. But now the Tiger is everywhere. It’s our health, relationship, job and more.

The fight or flight response relates to the Sympathetic Nervous System and its major trigger point is in the chest area.  When we are calm, that’s the Parasympathetic Nervous System and its access points are the base of the neck and the base of the spine.

The best way to bring the nervous system and its components back into balance is through spinal movement.  When we exercise the spine we bring more energy, blood and circulation into the body which in turn keeps the nervous system working at its optimum. And the two main actions which increase circulation to the spine are opening movements like back bending and closing movements like forward bending.

The best Yoga sequence for this is Moving Cat

For our practice this week join me in this short video below which demonstrates how to do Moving Cat and also Half Dog, which stretches the spine and is a great alternative for those who find they don’t have the arm strength or flexibility to do the Down Dog posture.

Wishing everyone a calm and relaxing Holiday season…with great respect Rachel

Balance the nervous system with sun salutation

A Simple Start

I love the idea of keeping things simple, it’s something that really appeals to me about Yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda. When you go for an Ayurvedic consultation you’re encouraged to ease into a new routine slowly.  When you add one thing at a time the body and mind have time to adjust. When we bombard ourselves with too many changes and go for the quick fix it’s hard to sustain and maintain. According to Science and Yoga it takes the body/mind about 6 weeks (40 days) to adopt a new habit or routine. Often we beat ourselves up for going too slowly, and call it procrastination. I prefer to think of it as determination. Keep it simple, take your time and eventually you’ll reach the goal. And by the way… did you ever stop to think that when you set a goal (somewhere to reach there and then) that THERE becomes HERE and THEN becomes NOW? 

 Rachel Portraits 2015-117Rachel Portraits 2015-118

I like to ask myself what can I do HERE and NOW that will make a difference and help me to manage the ups and downs associated with having Diabetes. For me, it’s my daily Yoga practice. I actually find it quite hard to get on my mat every day because discipline doesn’t come naturally.  That’s why I use a simple Sun Salutation ( Surya Namaskar) with lunge to get me motivated. Sun Salutation does require a degree of flexibility and strength at the outset so if you’ve never done one before I would suggest you check out my previous post to start to build the strength to join in on the video below. I hope you’ll join me in A Simple Start …with great respect, Rachel

Rachel Zinman Yoga

Variations on a Theme

When I first started Yoga I didn’t have a clue what was going on. My body was tight and uncompromising  and I felt stupid moving my body into shapes that hurt. Don’t get me wrong I have always loved being physical, I was a dancer from a young age. But Yoga was a whole different story. As a dancer my body was athletic and muscle bound, years of jumping and minimal stretching plus weak arms meant that I broke a sweat in just about every Yoga posture.

So what happened? How did I change my attitude towards Yoga and start to reap the benefits? For that matter how have I managed to see Diabetes as a plus in my life?

I love a challenge, thats it ! If it looks like I can’t do something – that’s when I flip it around and try my best.  I figure if I don’t give it my all what’s the point?

I’ve been lucky, years of discipline as a dancer has given me the ability to persist against my own resistance and that’s what’s enabled me to stay disciplined with my eating habits and consistently checking my blood sugar levels. But for those of us who aren’t naturally disciplined? What’s the solution.

To make something a habit, there needs to be a desire to repeat the habit. What ever we do needs to feel good. This is how I overcame the initial stages of resistance to doing a daily Yoga practice. Rather than going for the end result I built up my strength and ability to hold a pose. I took the pose in stages until I was ready. Sometimes it took a few tries, sometimes it took years. It didn’t matter. We all know the old adage, it’s the journey not the destination.

To start our journey with Yoga today below is a short sequence to build your strength in one of the most popular Yoga postures, Down Dog. Down Dog is a great pose to strengthen your arms, open your hamstrings and stretch your spine. It’s an inverted pose so it lowers blood pressure, it’s good for the glandular system including the thyroid and it opens the lungs. I have put the sequence in stages and recommend that you start with the easiest variations first, stopping and breathing along the way. Have a beautiful practice… with great respect Rachel

Easy Sequence Rachel Zinman Yoga

Start in Childs pose take your seat to your heels and have your belly against your thighs. Reach your arms out in front and lift your elbows, Breath deeply so you can feel the back of your body breathing.

Half Dog

Come into Half dog. This is a perfect variation to Down Dog. Make sure your hips and knees are in line as you stretch you arms out in front. Place a blanket under your knees if they are sensitive. Rest your forehead on the floor.


Another great transition pose is Cat pose. Have your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Breathe and relax here.


from Cat or Childs pose send your sitting bones high to the sky. Keep your knees bent which helps to lengthen the spine especially if you are tight in the hamstrings. Make sure your feet are no wider than your inner hips. Bring your weight towards your hips away from your hands. Feel your spine long and extended.


To come into  the full posture straighten your legs, make sure there is no pressure in your lower back or pain in the hamstrings. If there is, bend the knees again. Push the floor away from your hands sending the weight towards your hips. Engage your thigh muscles and breathe deeply into your chest. If you feel tightness behind the shoulders round your upper spine a little to relieve the pressure. Hold for 10 breaths unless you feel fatigued. Come down and rest in childs pose

IMG_5070If Down Dog is too challenging and you can’t do Half Dog because you have knee pain or its hard to get down to the floor, place your hands on blocks underneath your shoulders. Extend your spine and breathe. This is also a great variation if you have high blood pressure because the head stays level with the heart. If you don’t have blocks you can also do this with your hands at the wall with the arms extended. If the hamstrings are tight bend the knees.