As someone who started yoga at the age of 17, I’ve always seen yoga and yoga practices as life-changing, transformative and something that anyone can benefit from. Being a young and enthusiastic yogi, I assumed that yoga had the capacity to prevent and cure all disease. You can imagine my total shock when at 42, nearly 25 years into my career as a yoga teacher and yoga teacher trainer, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
At diagnosis I was confused. I knew nothing about diabetes or what it would mean going forward.
I had heard of juvenile-onset type 1 and I knew about type 2 which is thought of as a lifestyle disease. But LADA (latent autoimmune disease in adults) type 1.5 which was my eventual diagnosis, takes years to progress and carries aspects of both. The pancreas slowly stops producing insulin, the essential hormone we produce to keep the amount of sugar in the blood at the perfect level, and the cells that receive the insulin can also become insulin resistant.
Being better informed about diabetes, in general, would have helped me to find the right management strategy and enabled me to get things under control sooner. It took me 6 years to get the correct diagnosis and sadly my health and well-being suffered
But this is not a doom and gloom story. As soon as I knew more about my condition I wanted to make a difference not only in the lives of people living with diabetes but in my field as a yoga teacher trainer.
In order to help educate and advocate for diabetes, I decided to write a book not only about my personal journey but as a way to give back to both the diabetes community and the yoga community.
In the book I share everything I’ve ever learned about Ayurveda, yoga, and diabetes. It’s a manual for teachers and inspirational guide for people living with any type of diabetes.
As a yoga teacher knowing what type of diabetes your student has, whether they are on insulin or other medications and whether they use a pump or a continuous glucose monitor will affect how you meet their needs in either a group class or private session. Also having an in-depth understanding of their constitution from an Ayurvedic perspective can help you to create a sequence for them that’s perfect for their type.
Having lived with diabetes for 9 years, it’s hard to remember my life prior to diagnosis. I’ve let go of my ideals and accepted the fact that sometimes things happen that can’t be fixed.
Teaching yoga with this attitude has increased my tolerance, patience, and compassion, and I am loving working with people who thrive on the therapeutic aspects of the practice. I would encourage any yoga teacher wanting to teach to special populations to dive in. I can’t share enough how rewarding it is to help people who need it the most.
Photo Credits: Nora Wendel, David Young.