mindful movement and T1D: why yoga is in my diabetes management toolkit

It’s possible that I am biased.

As I finish up my Yoga Teacher Training certification through Seva Power Yoga and begin leading classes, it seems likely I would want to extol the virtues of incorporating a practice into one’s life. (My next goal, after getting some experience out in different settings, is to teach others with diabetes – particularly, with Type 1.)

But how could I not want to share what I have learned on the mat, especially in regard to how it has served me in better connecting my body?

Gaining insight into the physical self insists on responding to the needs of varied and confluent messages from our bodies: metabolic processes, emotional states, and corporal discomforts.

One beautiful practice that people can invite into their lifestyle achieve such an incredible-sounding goal is that of yoga.

Reaping the benefits of mindful movement becomes all the more tangible when you have type 1 diabetes to add to the mix. For example, seeing a direct correlation between insulin dosage or blood sugar trends and the time spent engaged in yoga seems like, …well, the coolest thing.

How could it not be, though? It is powerful to find another tool to use in managing your chronic condition, especially when it is something so simple as the application of intentional movement and stillness.

A recent blog entry on the JDRF website discussed many topics that arise when entering into yoga while having diabetes. The questions that they elaborate upon are worthwhile considerations: Where does your pump go if it is being worn? What if I go low? Will it be okay if I need supplies by me? (See their recommendation of the checklist of questions to ask an instructor prior to a class here.) With some research into what studio and instructor you may feel most comfortable with, these questions – like all the overwhelming things we allow ourselves to focus on, instead of truly experiencing the lightness and obviousness of the now – will find resolutions. Concerns about blood sugars can be experienced as you feel a symptom in that moment, as opposed to burdening yourself with all of the anxiety for yet-to-be-encountered glucose readings.

While, yes, it can be way easier said than done, keep in mind that diabetes blends into the yoga practice as a whole; it can enrich the meaning and healing of each pose and each practice to root into that.

The word yoga comes from Sanskrit. It is a term defined as “to yoke” or “to join, unite.” For some people, their bodies host an experience that features diabetes.

For us, joining into the full experience of the self will involve juiceboxes and glucose tabs being nearby. Who says there is anything less about that practice than another?

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revisiting the CGM: first experience with Dexcom G4 Platinum

The difference in the experience between the two models (top: SEVEN, bottom: G4) of Dexcom CGMs is more than just visual.

Controlling your sugars without a true image of where you are coming from and how fast you are getting there feels like working with one hand tied behind your back.

While a glucose meter offers an invaluable, quick snapshot of where your number is in an exact moment, it does not tell the whole story.

Offering a wiggly line graph to depict the rise and fall of your glucose, as well as assist in announcing the speed at which you are a– or de-scending, a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) gives a much more comprehensive image of why your number is where it is.

Fun to note, dextro-,  in matters of both handedness (i.e., dexterity) and sugar molecules (dextrose) refers back to being on the right side in some way. One has to do with what hand we may use to write; the other, the “[s]o called because this form of glucose [dextrose] polarizes light to the right in spectroscopy.”

With that in mind, the Dexcom has become my right-hand guy as I’m about six full days into my first session of being continuously glucose monitored with a Dexcom G4 Platinum.

(I promise that is the only pun in this post.)

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