There are so many challenges when dealing with a pre-diabetes or diabetes diagnosis, as managing through the disease is an incredibly stressful situation to deal with. That, and a diagnosis has a ripple effect through every aspect of life, including emotional and financial. Even though it’s a disorder about blood sugar levels, dealing with diabetes is the polar opposite of sweet.
Every 19 seconds, someone is diagnosed. Right now, 25% of children are dealing with pre-diabetes, so we know this situation isn’t going away by itself.
Thankfully we have myriad effective technologies and medications to help us manage the physical issues, but yoga is a non-medicinal, multi-dimensional solution. There is more evidence than ever that yoga is a great tool for managing a diabetes diagnosis by helping keep mind, body, and spirit, fit.
Yoga as a complementary healing modality when done in an mindful manner, can actually help the effectiveness of the medical treatment. What’s more, there are many reports of improved vitality and quality of life.
Why Is Yoga So Good For Diabetes?
Far from being an exhausting endeavour, a Healing Yoga practice is a gentle and accessible approach to movements that keep us within the comfortable range of motion. A gentle and restorative approach provides calm energy and helps reduce the parasympathetic “fight-flight” aspect of the nervous system, and enables the “rest-digest” aspect to become more dominant.
A Healing Yoga practice includes gentle movements that create circulation of the blood, lymph, and excess tension from the muscles and connective tissues. Deeper diaphragmatic breathing helps to stimulate the inner layers of the abdominal organs, accessing the deepest lymphatic tissues.
Rotations and breathing practices help stoke the fires of the belly. This is the domain of the 3 Chakra, the Manipura Chakra, or Solar Plexus. Activating our core through something as simple as exhaling with awareness, and completing the exhalations, can be very helpful. Spending time in restorative side bends is very beneficial, especially when paired with more gentle, active core work.
Getting the parasympathetic nervous system to engage is very important for blood sugar. When we help the body naturally reduce the amount of the stress hormone, cortisol, there is a natural decline in blood sugar levels. That is one reason many yoga and meditation practitioners report a reduction in their insulin needs when they begin to practice.
Engaging more gentle, restorative poses and breathing is a natural way to specifically target the PNS. Spending time in supported spinal rotations feel so soothing and are very effective for activating the PNS.
Yoga doesn’t have to be a sweaty killer workout with lots of pretzel poses, although it can be. The healing restorative aspects of the practice are especially accessible for all of us who really can’t see ourselves doing the splits in this lifetime.
At the end of the day, the power of yoga is in it’s ability to help us get out of the head and into the body, the breath, this moment and our inner landscape. The PNS engagement is a key element of the inner sweetness of the practice, where deep healing happens. Check your blood sugar levels to see the results yourself!
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