Insulin Pump Demystified

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Yoga Benefits

This morning I stretched for the first time in probably a good month. I haven't been able to find a way back into a regular yoga routine since somewhere in the middle of my pregnancy with June, and I've started feeling its absence in my body. I began doing yoga in 1997 and found myself totally taken with the way practicing the asanas helped me to clear my mind, tone my body and learn how to "just be" in the moment. Managing my stress through yoga practice also yielded benefits for my blood sugar control. Especially after starting pump therapy, I was able to measure just how much a stress-induced adrenaline rush could make my blood sugar soar. Daily yoga helped me to internalize a sense of calm...a calm that I could easily lose on a daily basis...but still know that I had tools to find a way back to it.

So...in my mind, I've been wanting to carve out a space--somewhere in my life--to get back to yoga. But there is just so much to do--personally and professionally--during my small windows of free time that I just haven't made it happen. But this morning, the house was quiet...June was having her morning nap and George and I were reading books. "Let's stretch together," I said to him.

At age three, he is definitely into the "mimicking" phase and jumped right up and stood next to me. I stood in mountain pose and he imitated me. I reached my arms up high and he did the same. I did a forward bend down to the floor and George followed. We were both laughing as we stretched up and down, side to side. At least I knew I was breathing! After about 10 minutes, he lost interest and went back to his books, while I continued practicing asanas for another five minutes. Soon, June woke up and the moment was over. It was certainly not a perfect kind of practice, but I loved stretching with George and the feeling of tension releasing throughout my body as I stretched. I remembered how important it is to really be in my body, to notice when I am stressed or tense. For me, carrying unreleased tension can undercut my best efforts at blood sugar control. And breathing and stretching through moments of high anxiety can help to counter the effect of stress hormones on my blood sugar.

Probably nothing has been as helpful as my yoga practice in preparing me for parenthood. Spending as much time as I do with two young kids is truly an exercise in being in the moment. When I can stop my mind from racing and running, I can appreciate the blessings of our simple, mundane moments...the richness of the every day.

When things settle down even more in my life, I hope to get back to an ongoing pilates practice, too. A couple of years ago, I was fortunate to meet Colin Reynolds, who also has Type 1 diabetes and wears a pump, and is an amazing pilates instructor. Colin is an inspiration--he is in such fantastic shape and is using pilates to help people with diabetes. Colin gave me simple routine to do at home, which helped me to get back into shape after George. I had a few lessons with him last December and have managed to squeeze in some pilates time here and there since.

Today taught me that waiting for the perfect time just means...waiting. Meanwhile, for the sake of my health--emotional, physical, and spiritual--I'll keep stretching away with my 3-year-old. If I can give my children a way to calm themselves through yoga poractice, that will be a huge benefit, too.

If you live in the Philadelphia area and want to know more about Colin and his awesome work, check out www.vitalitystudio.com.

In peace,
Gabrielle

3 Comments:

  • At 7:33 PM, Blogger Scott K. Johnson said…

    Oh man, that sounds really nice.

    I've always been interested in Yoga, but have never really investigated it at all.

    It sounds like I would really like it.

    Where/how were you first introduced to it, and when you decided to practice it seriously how did you go about training/learning more about it?

     
  • At 11:24 AM, Blogger GabrielleK-M said…

    Hi Scott,

    Here is a link to an article that I wrote for "Yoga Journal" that you may find helpful:

    http://www.yogajournal.com/health/toc_1.cfm

    It focuses on yoga benefits for people with Type 2, but much of it applies to people with Type 1 as well.

    I began by taking a beginner's yoga class at my health club and got hooked! I moved to Philadelphia the year after that and started taking weekly classes at a yoga studio and doing 15-30 mins of daily practice at home. There are many different styles so it's important to "shop around" and find one that feels right for you.

    Yoga--except for Power Yoga--is generally not aerobic exercise, but can help to build muscle and release stress, both of which can help blood sugar control.

     
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