Yoga for Diabetes
Diabetes & Yoga and You!
There is no doubt that diabetes is becoming an epidemic in the modern world. Did you think that diabetes just affected overweight people? Then think again! There are multiple causes for diabetes, and if you suffer severe stress over a prolonged period of time, you too could be at risk.
How could I be at risk?
Diabetes occurs when the level of glucose in the bloodstream is too high. This happens when the insulin making cells no longer work properly. The role of insulin acts as a key to unlock the energy from glucose, but there are a variety of reasons why the body can no longer manage this effectively so that the level of sugar in the blood continues to rise, until the onset of diabetes occurs.
There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is caused by an auto-immune destruction of the insulin cells in the pancreas. It usually manifests in early life resulting in a life-long dependency of insulin therapy.
Type 2 is the more common type of diabetes affecting 90% of all people suffering with diabetes. It has multiple causes that usually develop over many years, and is characterized by inadequate insulin production and diminished insulin action. The result is a higher level of glucose in the body than is healthy. The insulin making cells then have to work harder to produce insulin for converting the sugar into energy for the body. Eventually the insulin making cells become worn out, and less effective in their role. This leads to high blood sugar level, which, unless it can be reduced, will result in diabetes.
So where is this excess glucose coming from?
Often it may be through a poor diet that contains an excess of calories, combined with a lack of exercise which literally ‘gets the blood pumping,’ helping to keep the body working effectively at what it does naturally. But another major cause of diabetes is stress! When the body is stressed it produces hormones including cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), glucagen and the growth hormone. These stress hormones help the body cope with stress by increasing the production of glucose in the liver. The liver naturally produces sugar in the body, but when the body is stressed over a prolonged period of time sugar is constantly being pumped into the body internally, which will eventually result in inadequate insulin production. Cortisol and the growth hormone also reduce the effectiveness of insulin, resulting in diminished insulin action. Over a prolonged period of time, this over production of sugar, and diminished insulin action could result in Type 2 Diabetes.
This may be disturbing to read. How many of us honestly feel that we live in a stress-free zone, and eat healthily with the right balance of exercise taken every week?
Many of us really do need to rethink our lives and how we manage our lifestyles before the body becomes at risk from becoming diabetic. This is a real problem in the modern world with very serious consequences, and as a Type 1 Diabetic, I’m here to recommend wholeheartedly that you take action right now.
How can we do this?
NHS diabetes professionals state that here is now very strong evidence to suggest that the development of Type 2 Diabetes can be delayed or prevented by regular exercise of which there are three main components: cardiovascular, muscle strength and flexibility.
Most forms of exercise improve cardiovascular fitness and develop muscle power but there is little emphasis on flexibility. However in recent years, the western world has discovered yoga as a powerful means to improve health and fitness. Yoga is an ancient science and practice that originated thousands of years ago in the East, ultimately for the purpose of spiritual evolution. Hatha yoga is one particular strand that is designed to maintain optimum health in the body and mind, and incorporates all the main components required to develop fitness. As well as improving fitness levels, it also works effectively on the parasympathetic nervous system, encouraging a relaxation response which can help to reduce the release of stress hormones into the body. Not only this, it also prescribes a holistic approach to life, so that through regular, mindful practice, a greater awareness of the body develops, reducing the desire for the consumption of unhealthy food substances, and yearn for more wholesome food and a healthier lifestyle. Balance is at the core of the practice of yoga in every aspect of our lives. The practice we do on the mat can help teach us how to strike a balance in our increasingly busy and stressful lives. In fact, the more busy our lives become, the more we really need something like yoga to help us find some balance and maintain a sense of equilibrium in body and mind.
Having taught as a certified yoga teacher for the past 15 years, I am happy to say that I have seen a great many people come to yoga, and derive great benefit from it. And it has been within this time I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Experience of my own yoga practice, has shown that with a mindful and steady approach, yoga can be a powerful tool for strengthening and healing the mind and body, helping to maintain good sugar levels and boost the immune system for general good health.
If you think you might like to try yoga, or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be so glad to start you on your journey to good health (and happiness) through the practice of yoga!