The City of San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health District reported, last year, that more than one in seven residents have been diagnosed with diabetes. Among seniors in Bexar County, the figure skyrockets to one in three. The Centers for Disease Control warns that Hispanics are almost twice as likely as their non-Hispanic white counterparts to be diagnosed with diabetes, and Latinos are 50 percent more likely to die from diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.
There is no clear cut answer as why people diabetes is an epidemic in our community. But, what we can address is blood sugar management to prevent renal failure, amputations, cardiovascular disease, and other problems associated with diabetes type 2.
No one likes needles, and no one likes diets. Yet needles and diet are essential for many unable to control their sugar levels. We’re not talking ten days on an antibiotic, or giving up candy for lent, but constant injections, finger pricking and restricted food intake which can be depressing and stress provoking.
While yoga does not replace insulin or oral meds, it is one of the best antidotes for stress, and stress aggravates the blood sugar level. Yoga incorporates bodywork, meditation, breathing exercises, chanting and ultimately changing one’s lifestyle which doctors will say is essential for treatment of type 2 diabetes.
“If you only address physicality, you won’t reach the cause,” said Chase Bossart, co-director of Yoga as Therapy North America at a workshop on diabetes. “Yoga Therapists can train people to alter their lifestyles to help them with specific issues, and at the same time, help them to have a healthier mind/body/soul for longer term,” he said.
Gary Kraftsow, author of Yoga for Wellness, adds, “A personal (yoga) practice will enable you to break unconscious and self-destructive behavioral patterns and establish new ones that will lead to positive change. The basic principle of yoga cikitsa (therapy) is that diseases are symptoms of imbalance; and therefore, the orientation of yoga cikitsa is to restore balance.”
Among a recent study of overweight seniors, those practicing yoga were nearly 20 pounds lighter. Since just five percent loss in body weight can improve the blood sugar level, this is significant.
Yoga therapy is a holistic customized approach under the guidance of a qualified yoga therapist and a general practitioner or endocrinologist. Following are four simple tips that can be beneficial yoga for diabetics.
- Walk outside, 10-15 minutes daily. Use walks to connect with nature or a loved one.
- Breathe in bed. Feel your tummy rise and fall as you inhale and exhale. Count each breath for five to ten minutes nightly before sleep, or during interrupted sleep.
- Eat mindfully. Count your carbs (less than 50 grams per meal) and skip high glycemic foods. Reduce or eliminate animal fats, including meats, cheese and butter. Use cinnamon instead of sugar in coffee, oatmeal, smoothies or other foods.
- Twist* your body, five to ten minutes daily. (Such as twists featured in the photos in this post.)
*Contraindicated for pregnant women, herniated discs or other spinal injuries.