Diayogi Dialogue with Lauren Bongiorno Episode 6

Diayogi Dialogue with Lauren Bongiorno

Lauren Bongiorno our next diayogi is more than an inspiration, she’s a game changer in the field of health and wellbeing. Every word she she shares is pure gold. She’s authentic, fearless and focussed. Her story of how yoga came into her life and changed it 360 degrees is fascinating and I can’t wait for you to join us in our conversation and to practice her nourishing yoga snack. With out further ado take it away Lauren.

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Lauren Bongiorno is a virtual Diabetic Health Coach, Yoga Instructor, and Author of the Diabetic Health Journal. Lauren coaches T1D’S all over the world to achieve optimal diabetes management using her 360 degree approach, emphasizing wellness throughout the mind, body, and soul. Lauren believes that through self reflection and mindfulness we are better able to understand our own patterns, achieve our goals, and reform our most limiting habits. Lauren continues to be a leading voice in the diabetic online community to her 26 thousand Instagram followers, is an ambassador for Lululemon, and was recently nominated by Pure Wow as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs to watch for 2019 for her work in the diabetic space.

Where you can find Lauren on Social:

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Diayogi Dialogue with Anna Elfving-Gomes Episode 5

Diayogi Dialogue with Anna Elfving-Gomes

Anna Elfving-Gomes lives in Finland and was diagnosed just two years ago. Perfect for anyone who is newly diagnosed, her story is deeply moving and shines a light on all the feelings and challenges we face when diagnosed as an adult. Anna is also enthusiastic about yoga and its transformative power. As she shares during our chat, “The right moment for any of us is now.” Take it away Anna…

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Anna Elfving-Gomes was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years ago. Her diagnosis brought about a big lifestyle change and she left her longtime desk job to follow her passion and become a holistic health coach and yoga teacher. Her company, Type Blissed, is launching soon. Anna currently lives in Finland with her Brazilian husband and their three kids.

Where you can find Anna on Social:

Want more Yoga? 
Join the diayogi-tribe, receive a free yoga class and stay tuned for the next episode

Diayogi Dialogue with Margaret Shippey Episode 4

Diayogi Dialogue with Margaret Shippey

Margaret Shippey, our next Diayogi is so much fun. We connected in Atlanta last year during one of my book launch events and I was immediately struck by her enthusiasm for creating community through yoga. There were three other people living with diabetes in the class and she made sure they all exchanged emails so they could stay in touch.  In our interview Margaret shares a simple breathing and focussing technique and emphasises throughout our dialogue how yoga helped her connect with her strength not only physically but in managing her health. I know you are going to love her bubbly personality and inspiring words. 

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Margaret Shippey has been a t1d for over 27 years. She discovered yoga in college and has been practicing for the past ten years. Trying a variety of styles she finally got the courage to challenge herself and do her 200 hour RYT through a Baptiste Studio in Atlanta. When she is not doing yoga you can find her singing jazz, practicing interior design, being an advocate for clean beauty with Beauty counter, and last but not least spending time with her amazing dog and best friend, Lottie!

Where you can find Margaret on Social:

Want more Yoga?
Join the diayogi-tribe, receive a free yoga class and stay tuned for the next episode

Diayogi Dialogue with Evan Soroka Episode 3

Diayogi Dialogue with Evan Soroka

Our Diayogi dialogue today is with Evan Soroka, a yoga teacher and yoga therapist for people living with Type 1 diabetes. I can’t wait for her to share her wisdom which includes a calming focussed breathing practice. As a dedicated yogini, Evan is a shining example of how yoga can take you from feeling out of your depth and overwhelmed to mastery. Take it away Evan.

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Evan Soroka is a certified yoga therapist and teacher based in Aspen, Colorado. When she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in early adolescence yoga was the only thing that helped her manage the uncomfortable emotional and physical side effects. Since then Evan has turned her greatest struggle into her life’s purpose. Through the practices and teachings of yoga therapy she empowers others to use their own body as a vehicle for healing and transformation. 

 

Where you can find Evan on Social:

Want more Yoga?
Join the diayogi-tribe, receive a free yoga class and stay tuned for the next episode

Be the Sweetness You Are

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about loving kindness. We are told by countless self-help gurus that in order to move forward on ‘the path’ we have to love ourselves. I can remember way back in the 90’s having a counselling session where I was told that unless I learned to love myself I’d never find a way to move forward in my life. Looking back all I can say is, hogwash! I’ve realized through trial and error that loving oneself isn’t an action. We can’t do loving because we are the love itself.

Rachel Portraits 2015-6 copyBut what exactly does that mean?

Love is such a powerful feeling. Think about how it feels when you hug someone. Tingles and warm shoo-shoo feelings in the heart and a sense of safety and completion flooding every ounce of your being. Feeling love for someone is so powerful that somehow we are convinced that that’s what self love should feel like too. But what if love isn’t a feeling. What if love isn’t tangible and what if… we are loving ourselves 24/7 and the only thing standing in our way is that no one has ever told us that love is not an action.

Put simply, love is being yourself. And how hard is it to be yourself? It’s easy… you’re doing it every single day.

As a reminder I often think about when my son was born. Just a few minutes after his birth I understood something I couldn’t have possibly understood before. Babies are pure love. They ooze love, exude love just by simply existing. So what’s the difference between a baby and you? Absolutely nothing. That love baby is still looking out of your own eyes how ever many years later. If there is anything that separates you from the baby it’s the ideas, beliefs and conditions you’ve innocently absorbed and taken on. Sometimes it’s described as the layering affect. You identify with emotions, feelings, situations as yourself and then you believe you are the shame, guilt, depression, misery etc. But you can never be those things…they are just things you have.

IMG_8952It’s easier to drop what you have than what you are. Try dropping your awareness? I dare you. Try to be unconscious right now! Unless you hit yourself over the head with a hammer it’s impossible.

So being love is a no-brainer and loving yourself is effortless. What’s effortful is clinging to your concepts about love, about what love should look like and what it takes to love yourself. Think about how many times you’ve berated yourself for not taking care of yourself, for not going that extra mile, for not getting it “right’. Whose imposed those expectations? Where are those ideas about what self love should look like coming from? Un-peeling the layers is not some psychological process it’s not even about letting go, it’s actually the opposite of that.

By being you and and simply existing in the creation you are enough. In fact, you’re more than enough.

Think about it. What do you take with you when you drop your body? Do you take an emotion? An object? A relationship? Money? An idea or belief? At the moment of death, quite naturally you let go of everything. And imagine understanding that by simply existing, you are enough. How loving would you feel? Where would you need to direct love? What work would you have to put in to love yourself?

Absolutely none!

IMG_4490Love is already gained; like a drop in the vast ocean of water. No matter how much the drop thinks it’s a drop it can only ever be water. No matter how separate you feel from love the truth is, love is all there is.

So being sweet to yourself is easy because without trying, without even knowing it you are the sweetness itself.

I’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 …. with great respect, Rachel

Is that the bad kind?

The first time I encountered diabetes was when one of my teenage classmates had it. I can remember asking her what the diabetic alert bracelet she wore was for and why she couldn’t eat sugar. I never once saw her have a hypo, she never complained and to me she seemed completely normal.

Now that I live with type 1 diabetes I get how naïve I was and how amazing she was. She woke up every day and dealt with so many calculations, lows and highs. She was a super hero.

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When I was first diagnosed as pre-diabetic I thought I had type 2 diabetes. To me that meant I had every chance of reversing my diagnosis and the opportunity to continue living my life as I saw fit. Sure I’d have to eat a low glycemic diet and exercise more but that was easy. I’d been disciplined my whole life. It didn’t occur to me that because I didn’t fit the typical profile for a type 2 diabetic, something was awry.

It didn’t take long for things to come unhinged. About 6 months after my diagnosis the doctor let me know it was an autoimmune condition. “Your pancreas isn’t going to miraculously start producing insulin,” the doctor stressed, “eventually you’ll be on medication.” I can remember sitting in that office and feeling like I was being handed a death sentence. I was angry, confused and convinced myself he was wrong.

I didn’t want to admit that I had the same diabetes my childhood friend had. That kind of diabetes happens to kids, not too adults in their 40’s.  That’s the bad kind.

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Recently at a wedding I was caught in the act of eating my home cooked quiche and asked why I’d brought my own food. “I have diabetes,” I shared.

“Is that because you ate too much candy as a kid?”.

“No, sugar does not cause this kind of diabetes,” I replied, It’s autoimmune, my pancreas doesn’t produce insulin I have to control my carbs, inject or die!”

A bit dramatic I know, but I wanted to drive the point home.

I admit at times I find myself being envious of people who live with type 2. Somehow I imagine they must struggle less. But in reality I am sure they deal with as much stress as a type 1 diabetic. It just has different moods and flavours.

It’s not my fault that fate has lumped me with this condition. And at times I feel like such a failure. I can’t predict how each injection will be absorbed, how much is the right amount to take for travel, the weather or that lunch out with friends.

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As a young yoga teacher, when working with pregnant woman, I’d get them into a posture and encourage them to breathe through the intensity explaining that this was what childbirth was like. After having my own child, I felt like such a fraud.  Nothing can prepare you for childbirth, certainly not a prenatal yoga class!

And that’s exactly how I feel about living with diabetes. No matter how much I quizzed my type 1 friend, read about it or watched stuff on YouTube nothing could prepare me for what’s happening now as my beta cells slowly call it quits.

The one thing that has helped, besides my awesome yoga practice, is keeping my sense of humour. As I troll Facebook groups and connect with other type 1’s those clever type 1 memes get me going!

Here’s one of my favorites

I cant diabetes today

Something that my yoga teacher used to say, is that the joy is felt in the space after the laughter ends. With regards to keeping it upbeat in the face of the daily diabetes challenges his words certainly ring true for me. No matter what goes on joy, stillness, peace, love,  and all that good stuff are ever available.

That’s one thing having “the bad kind” can’t undo!

What it means to come home

I haven’t been home in a while. My life on the road is a series of suitcase bumps up and down escalators and relentless packing and unpacking.

Six years ago things were different. I had a home, a son in high school, a marriage, a stable income and my pancreas was still producing insulin. I can remember swimming laps in my pool and thinking, this is the life.

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But just when I thought things were hunkey dorey, the shit hit the fan.

My particular brand of crisis didn’t actually happen because I was diagnosed with diabetes. It happened before then. It was happening because I was sick and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was convinced that my marriage, my home and everything stable was dragging me down. I wanted adventure and radical change.

Then all hell broke loose.

The details are irrelevant (a whole book in itself ) but within a year or two I was no longer married, my son had moved to Melbourne, someone else owned my home and I was living out of a suitcase in India. I can’t begin to tell you the number of times that phrase, “ be careful what you wish for, ” rolled around in my head!

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That moment of radical crisis forced me into a corner and made me question everything. Especially my roles. The big question? If I’m not a mother, wife, yoga teacher, who am I? I’d lived through so many ideas about who I thought I was that I realised I didn’t have a clue who I actually was. It’s the existential question most of us soul searching bohemian types ask at one point or other right?

Lucky for me I slam dunked into a person, who having been through something similar, was now out the other side. We met in India, as you do when your in the middle of an eat pray love adventure. He led me to a teacher and a teaching which answered every single soul searching question I’d ever had. Sound unbelievable? I thought the same. But it just so happens that a crisis is the only time in your life that you are forced to question. And in India a traditional teaching, which has existed for thousands of years, is designed to provide the answers.

As a westerner I was so full of my own ideas, conditioning and beliefs I never thought I could drop all that, but I did. As the simplicity of it all dawned on me I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. And rather then being devastated I felt like a huge weight had been lifted. Suddenly everything made sense. It enabled me to accept my diagnosis and get on with life. Living as artfully, passionately and fully as possible.

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Coming out of crisis for me was finding home in myself. And to be real, words cannot adequately describe what I’ve been assimilating since being exposed to the wisdom of the upanishadic tradition in India. What I can say is that in spite of living with a chronic illness I’ve found peace.

So when friends ask me how I manage to travel constantly, teach yoga, manage my relationship and live with diabetes. I keep it simple, practicing yoga every day, eating small nurturing meals. Walking in nature, taking time to be still and be with myself.

I’d love to hear from you how you come home to yourself.

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

My secret weapon

It’s Tips and Tricks Friday for Diabetes Blog Week and today on the blog I can’t help sharing a little bit about why yoga is my secret weapon. I also want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone for your posts, comments and blogs these past five days and thank you to Karen for initiating this profound project. I can’t wait till next year!

Let’s round out the week by sharing our best diabetes tips and diabetes tricks. From how you organize supplies to how you manage gear on the go/vacation (beach, or skiing, or whatever). From how you keep track of prescription numbers to how you remember to get your orders refilled. How about any “unconventional” diabetes practices, or ways to make diabetes work for YOU (not necessarily how the doctors say to do it!). There’s always something we can learn from each other. (Remember though, please no medical advice or dangerous suggestions.)

I’m someone who is super disciplined and diligent. I actually can’t imagine what it would be like to forget to take my shot, or leave the house without my meter or skip a meal. One thing I insist upon is having my meals at regular intervals and limiting snacks. Most people roll their eyes when I say this and think I’m weird. Or they feel sorry for me. Whatever people think, that’s their business. One thing that helps me manage my diabetes is finding ways to stay in control. Rather than judge myself or see it as a negative I feel it serves me immensely.

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The other trick that keeps me thriving is

Yoga

I use the physical postures to get the muscles to uptake glucose and increase my circulation, and to increase my level of fitness. I use the breathing practices to stimulate the lymphatic and circulatory system as well as increasing the efficiency of respiration and I use meditation and mantra (sound healing) and yantra (visualization) to calm my mind and relax my nervous system. With all these elements in play I have a sense of fulfilment and ease which makes it easy to be disciplined. In fact, I love it!

And I see my body as a laboratory. Noticing how the body reacts to foods, environment and stress. When the body reacts, I react and so do my BG levels. I can determine by observing my breath in a posture or how my mind is racing when I’m meditating that something isn’t quite right. I use the yoga practice like medication, perhaps changing to a more soothing practice, or spending longer on a breath practice to try and balance out the increased stress on the system. Not everyone has the mind set or will power to do this. But for someone like me whose done Yoga since forever, it works.

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I think the biggest thing that yoga has given me is perspective. When things get tough with diabetes, I have to step back, breathe through it and do my best. That’s all I can do especially when nothing seems to work. That and to understand that practice makes perfect. When I first started on MDI’s I was a nervous wreck. I kept thinking I’d do it wrong. But soon I learned that following a specific series of steps would help me to stay calm and remember what to do next. That’s what’s always helped me practice and teach yoga too. The power of routine. It’s the one thing I have always relied on and it’s the one consistent piece of advice I offer my students. Find a routine, stick with it and everything else will fall into place.

With great respect…Rachel

P.S Want to know more about my passion for yoga and diabetes? I’m offering the first chapter of my new book on Yoga for Diabetes for free. Find the right practice for your type by learning all about Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.

All I really want to do is eat chocolate pizza!


Welcome to day two of Diabetes Blog Week. Already its been an intense smorgasboard of words and images to take in. I am absolutely loving this years posts and it’s only Tuesday. Huge thank you to Karen from Bitter Sweet Diabetes for making this happen. Todays theme is The other half of diabetes- Tuesday

We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant. How does diabetes affect you mentally or emotionally? How have you learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition? Any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas to share on getting out of a diabetes funk?

Oh my god I love diabetes- said no one EVER! But I can live with it. Why? Because I’ve worked for years to refine my attitude towards adversity. When I was a kid I was super competitive. If someone said I couldn’t do something I was determined to prove them wrong. Simple dares, like I bet you can’t climb to the top of that tree to complex ultimatums like; if you quit college you’ll never be a success were treated with equal merit. I made sure I climbed that tree, quit college and lived a successful happy life.

Living with a type A personality however is a double edged sword. I obsess about the numbers on my meter as much as I try and perfect my to-do list. I sweat over my doctors visit espousing to be the perfect Zen yogi when all I really want to do is eat chocolate pizza and give up!

I actually think my frustration helps me cope. Allowing myself to cry, be angry and feel hopeless gives me a break from the part of me that strives for perfection. In fact, every now and then I let myself be a disaster area. Test strips all over the floor, a handful of almonds (yep that’s my comfort food) and binge watching ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.’

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But besides slacking off I do see yoga and yoga practices as a lifeline. Having solid tools to calm my mind and nervous system makes a huge difference to my mental emotional state. Especially when I am dealing with a week of frustratingly high blood sugars or panicking over lows.

Coming back to my breath, slowing down and gaining perspective through quiet reflection are just some of the ways I cope. I also look to my partner for support and advice. He doesn’t have diabetes but he has incredible wisdom and knowledge and is always reminding me that even though the body has a disease, I can never be the disease and that my thoughts about the disease are much more trouble than the diabetes itself.

Learning to manage my thoughts, seeing them for what they are and knowing myself as that presence in whom all thoughts come and go creates a space for me to accept what’s happening. It’s not always easy but it helps.

And then there’s my absolute favourite tool for changing my attitude. The breath!

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 Try this simple technique to let go of stressful thoughts, worries and negativity

You can do this sitting in a chair, lying down or simply standing in line at the post office. Breathing in for an even count imagine you are breathing in love, joy, peace and calm Doubling the length of your exhalation breath out stress, negativity, fear or whatever it is that you want to let go of. Keep going until you find you’re hardly breathing and totally relaxed.

That’s it!

With great respect… Rachel

P.S Want to know more about my passion for yoga and diabetes? I’m offering the first chapter of my new book on Yoga for Diabetes for free. Find the right practice for your type by learning all about Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.

Writing is my way of reaching out

I’m so excited it’s Diabetes Blog Week and every day for the next five days I’ll be blogging  to a specific topic along with a host of others. Check out whose blogging this week and join in the fun. Here’s our first topic for Message Monday

Let’s kick off the week by talking about why we are here, in the diabetes blog space. What is the most important diabetes awareness message to you? Why is that message important for you, and what are you trying to accomplish by sharing it on your blog? 

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I was a teenager the first time I met someone with diabetes.  I can still remember the medical ID on her wrist and her passion for sugar free sweets. She was a little plump and always cheerful and I never imagined how difficult it must have been for her. When I was diagnosed nearly 30 years later I tried to find her. An impossible task. I wanted to tell her that I’d never understood how hard it must have been…I wanted her to know I was just like her.

Writing is my way of reaching out, and a vehicle for me to put into words how it feels to live with diabetes. I don’t remember my friend ever mentioning how she felt about her condition. In those days a person with diabetes lived in isolation. I lived like that for the first 6 years after my diagnosis too. Pretending, hoping and convincing myself and others I wasn’t really sick. Easy to do when I didn’t bother to inform myself.

Struggling to accept my diagnosis I felt ashamed, lonely and guilty. I kept wondering what I could have done differently. I searched the internet and the globe for a cure or some way to reverse what I thought I had. Back when I was diagnosed I didn’t know anyone in the yoga community who had diabetes. I remember asking a fellow yoga teacher if they’d ever had someone with diabetes in their class, “ Hmm…don’t know , maybe…but no-one ever mentioned it, if they did.”

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I came out of diabetes denial when it became impossible to ignore that I wasn’t going to get better. With an A1c of 10.7, mild neuropathy and a million visits to the toilet it was pretty obvious that I had to get my blood sugar under control.  The first step was to admit I had a problem.

A long post to our yoga teacher facebook group about my decision to start long acting insulin was met with nothing but love and support. Reading everyone’s comments I couldn’t help crying. It just felt so good to know that I wasn’t alone! Everyone struggles with something in their lives. And it doesn’t have to be a chronic illness.

Now that I am an avid online diabetes advocate the one message that keeps hitting home is that this disease doesn’t work in isolation. By telling our stories, sharing how we manage, voicing our hopes and dreams and demonstrating how we live beyond, we not only come to terms with our diagnosis, we heal.

I always thought that healing meant I’d never have to deal with diabetes again. That I’d be able to say I used to have diabetes…now I know better. Living beyond is all about accepting what is and thriving anyway. My disease might be invisible to others, I might have to micromanage every minute but still, I am happy, healthy and live a fulfilled and complete life.
With great respect…Rachel

P.S Want to know more about my passion for yoga and diabetes? I’m offering the first chapter of my new book on Yoga for Diabetes for free. Find the right practice for your type by learning all about Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.