Yoga teacher who wants to help with my diabetes, ohmilord

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Yoga teacher who wants to help with my diabetes, ohmilord

Postby Kate » Thu May 07, 2009 10:53 pm

Started at a new yoga place closer to home this week and had to fill in the form, I always put Type 1 diabetes where they ask and havent had many problems, though this yoga teacher wanted to have a discussion about exercises he can incorporate into the class that will help my pancreas. I was a little abrupt probably and just said, 'that's Ok I've had it along time, I think it's a bit late for my pancreas, dont worry about me' as he persisted with assurances he had these wonderful postures that would really help me. Aaargh a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous (and annoying) thing, eh?. Anyway I must have been a little shorter than I realised as he has just followed up with an email to me :

You seemed to react negatively when I commented that yoga can be of assistance for diabetes
I did not mean: come along and we can cure it. What I meant is that there's some quite well documented evidence, to say nothing of traditional historical beliefs in the yoga community, that yoga can and does assist in the balancing of hormones from the various endocrine glands. Including the pancreas. Where I did my initial teacher training - the tradition is ALL about a focus on the endocrine glands. And I believe that there's some research being pursued at the University of Melbourne at the current time which is exactly along these lines.
This may or may not make any sense to you.

So before I give my lecture about type 1 and type 2 and 'I didnt ask so please keep out of it', anyone got any thoughts as I am not a yoga expert and perhaps he might be onto something, though the email or conversation havent gone very far in explaining exactly what the benefits might be.
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Postby Topcat » Thu May 07, 2009 11:00 pm

Gday Kate,

There was a discussion on RC not so long ago about Yoga and Diabetes.

For myself I drop rapidly in BGLs, sometimes to extremely low levels during Yoga, this can even be with a starting BGL of 10+.

One night I dropped so low that I sat around the Gym for 45minutes stuffing myself with JBs before I came to a level safe enough to drive home.

Granted I am listed as T2 even though I am MDI Basal/Bolus regime, but others on here who have been T1 for a long time, reported almost to a person, the same effect over the last discussion thread involving Yoga.

My Yoga instructor is very aware of the effects on the pancreas and keeps a very close eye on me during each session.

Thought this info might help you.

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Postby Diana » Fri May 08, 2009 1:08 am

Hmm, I would probably reply with something along the lines of "I appreciate your interest and concern but have the management of my diabetes under control, and would rather enjoy yoga for its other benefits.. (list whatever it is you want out of the classes). Its a tricky one. I had a similar problem with a tai chi class once.
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Postby byronss » Fri May 08, 2009 2:44 am

Sounds like a friend who is new to studying naturopathy and who insisted recently she can cure diabetes and she wanted to use me for her dissertation. Oh yes, she says, type 1 too. When I commented that I doubted she could, she came back with, "Of course I can, the studies prove it! Oh you're always so negative!". Huh? No dear, just fact. She still doesn't believe me and thinks I"m stupid for not wanting to try her cure. A little knowledge is definitely a dangerous thing!

Your yoga teacher is surely talking about T2, and if not, what the h can he do with a dead pancreas? Sure yoga can probably bring your blood sugars down, but interestingly enough, tonight I've been reading on another forum about exercise giving lots of highs for some, and how people are finding it difficult to manage with pumps and MDI. Interesting... I'm learning.

Ask your yoga teach to explain the difference in the effect of yoga on T1 and T2. That might sort him out.
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Postby Anne » Fri May 08, 2009 8:03 am

I am a big skeptical person but all yoga, reflexology, osteopathy and the rest send me massively hypo. I don't think that I can squeeze any natural insulin out of my own pancreas, my own explanation is that I end up so relaxed that my usual (high) adrenaline level drops and this send me low by surprise. I also fall asleep during most of these sort of sessions :)

A friend did some reflexology for me and apologised as she warned me that it may mess up my bgl. It did, well I went hypo, and felt so relaxed I was nearly floating in her sitting room when I woke up! I just think that I am not used to be that relaxed.
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Postby Kezza » Fri May 08, 2009 8:14 am

Hmm, yeah tricky, as he doesn't seem to be a total idiot (with the not curing) just somewhat misinformed.

I guess the question is whether you want to do yoga or just a stretch class? Because yoga incorporates all this stuff about certain postures helping certain things.

I struggle with yoga and all their talk of 'chakras' and claims certain postures help your this chakra or that chakra. However it has an extremely long history and their might be some actual biology behind it - increasing blood flow in ways that help organ function and/or get rid of toxins for example.

I would probably send a friendly email back asking how helping with the pancreas is going to help you since no insulin production blah blah, brief discussion of T1 vs T2, does he know which of the very different diabetes this research deals with?

I have also found I drop after yoga, more than for more intensive workouts such as weights or cardio. I can't explain this as it's a very mild workout. It might be worth trying what he suggests, with the possibility that there are certain postures that will eg do particularly well at increasing insulin sensivity. He may know what works even if his explanations for why it works don't make any sense.
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Postby ilikeplanes » Fri May 08, 2009 5:38 pm

Sorry, i have to laugh. This reminds me of a guy i sat next to on a flight from SYD to MEL a few months ago who told me he could "cure" my diabetes though techniques he "developed" (this is after he saw me injecting). In the next 30mins he proceeded to diagnose me with various things like dehydration, bad circulation and liver disease, just to mention a few. I would have been crying for my mum if it wasn't so hysterical! He had devised a treatment plan for me before top-of-descent and it was full steam ahead. When we got on the ground, he gave me his name and number and i gave him my "name" and "number".......and then ran.

Ah, the people you meet on aeroplanes!

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Postby Mel » Sat May 09, 2009 10:41 am

I went to this health farm place years ago where 3 treatments came as part of the package. The obligatory form was required at each treatment, the aromatherapy massage was great, the girl said her brother's girlfriend had type 1 and she was quite knowledgeable and didn't offer anything but a relaxing massage with things that smelt nice-I highly recommend it.

The relflexology foot treatment was a different thing all together, I was getting increasingly irritated despite the whale song in the background as after ascertaining that the clicks he could hear were my insulin pump, he started raving on about western medicine producing chemicals (said with appropriate sneer that intimated such chemicals were akin to dog shit) and how reflexology "Might not be able to cure your diabetes since you've had it so long..." Grrrrr what really annoyed me was the hint that if I'd had reflexology earlier maybe I could have cured my d and also when I explained the whole t1 scenario he acted like "oh well if you aren't interested in getting well...." talk about blaming the "victim" for their condition.
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Postby Tash » Sat May 09, 2009 11:21 am

This so very much sounds like he has not realised the difference between T1 and T2!... lol....

Im sure yoga is great for T2 and even a great exercise for someone with T1.... but I do not believe it would be possible for any yoga/exercise to make a non functioning pancreas start spitting out insulin again!...

I reckon try what others have suggested... get him to tell you the difference between T1 and T2... if anything... it could be a really amusing conversation! *snickers*
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Postby Topcat » Sat May 09, 2009 10:36 pm

Tash wrote:Im sure yoga is great for T2 and even a great exercise for someone with T1.... but I do not believe it would be possible for any yoga/exercise to make a non functioning pancreas start spitting out insulin again!...

Agreed, we should continue to be aware however that it could also be quite possible for Yoga to effect the way the insulin which is injected/pumped or the circulating blood glucose how they are metabolised and therefore be responsible for unexpected lows as a number of people here have experienced with Yoga.

Masking this possibility with a discussion on the T2 vs T1 debate and the reality of a dead pancreas not coming back 'to life' could leave one open to a nasty unexpected hypo whilst practising Yoga techniques.

Just as a healthy diet and exercise can benefit the management of T1 diabetes (as well as if not more so T2) so perhaps could Yoga techniques, and in so doing change the way in which we understand/manage every facet of the condition on a moment to moment basis. Not on the activity/inactivity of the pancreas but in the bodies needs with what it has at the time.
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Postby gwandana » Sat May 09, 2009 10:59 pm

Topcat I have been wondering how to reply to this topic without getting flamed. Well said!

Ponder for a moment if you will..... What if the yoga instructor is correct?

Many, many alternate therapies affect BGL's, mostly by lowering BGL's.

As an holistic healer my personal experience is that if one is on insulin, expect hypos. This is regardless of the species of D. Infact I find type 2's are far less affected than type 1's.

And no tash, nothing to my knowledge will get the pancreas functioning again. Yet holistic medicine affects BGL's sometimes quite profoundly.

As to why this is so... maybe another post.
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Postby Lyle » Sun May 10, 2009 2:06 pm

Wow, what a strange experience Kate. I love yoga but at least if you do wii fit yoga the instructor won't give you creepy advice.

I am in full agreement to the general healthful benefits of yoga, massage and chiropractic but I don't think they are the end-all for every problem.

Like when chiropractics say that your kids won't need immunizations if they get their spines aligned. I have a chiropractic in-law whose kids have the runniest noses around. Great for backs, but let's leave it at that.

I try to be politely dismissive in these cases, as in, "I'd really like to increase flexibility and relaxation; let's not focus on the pancreas issues." If that doesn't back them off, then they have a different issue of not listening to the client.

Strange scenario, the instructor making yoga creepy and awkward. It does sound like that instructor was listening and picking up on your vibe, which is probably a good sign. Maybe they will research and find the limitations of yoga vs T1 on their own.

I hope you post an update... I am really curious.
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Postby Lyle » Sun May 10, 2009 2:18 pm

but I must add, I do believe yoga and massage do help balance body chemistry a bit in the same manner as exercise.

Funny that they would say it "may not make sense to you...", I don't think any of us really understand the subtleties of the endocrine system, doctors or yoga instructors but that is why we are all here, isn't it?
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Postby Kate » Mon May 11, 2009 12:33 pm

Thanks everyone. I think it was me who started the recent discussion about yoga and hypos, so yes very well aware of that. But adding more hypos is not actually 'helping' my diabetes, even if it is perceived to be making 'things' work better it actually just creates problems in reality. Clearly lots of people here with relevant personal and professional experience - Can I clarify whether there is any known benefits for people with Type 1 from yoga?

Noone has mentioned the annoying side effect of Type 1 that causes us a lot of problems which is glycogen response to hypoglycaemia being dampened if not completely ceased - this is a hormonal change which I would be delighted to see restored, thus restoring my body's ability to deal with its own hypos ... any evidence or experience of this or other related issues? Diabetes isnt ony about insulin of course and I'm very open to benefits that might exist as long as they are not imagined or theoretical.
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Postby Emm » Mon May 11, 2009 3:05 pm

I have stopped doing yoga now, however when I was doing bikram yoga 3 times a week my basal rates started to lower - at one stage I my basal rate was 50% lower. Rates when back up however when I stopped doing the yoga. I have since spoken with others type 1's that have experienced the same thing!
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Postby Muzz » Thu May 14, 2009 10:13 pm

One approach would be to consider if there anything to loose by checking out what this person has to offer? You are already going to his classes so its like like theres any extra financial gain (or is there?).

If anything the extra interest may be helpful for your yoga in general. Though the claims of cure could be very annoying like the old " my uncle has diabetes and cured it with diet" type advice.

People from nonmedical science backgrounds have different ways of talking about the same thing. They may sound completly crazy because it appears to be illogical. Some things work without any real explanation, Or dont work without any real explanantion- like why did our pancreases stop working?

Im curoius about people low bsls with yoga as I have never found this to be a problem. My biggest problem has been keeping the motivation to continue practicing.

Use your intuition on this one.

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Postby goldendel » Fri May 15, 2009 10:02 pm

Hi Kate,

My attitude is (At the risk of sounding like a hippie...)Just because there is no "science" behind it, does not mean it will not help you. You've got little to lose by giving it a try.

As for the western scientific view, Most regular exercise regimes are going to lower your insulin requirements, which should also stablise your control in the longer term. Obviously you will need to do it long enough for you to assess what the change is an act accordingly.

Certainly Yoga increases blood flow, which would improve the efficacy of insulin, and Bikram Yoga, where temperature is elevated, should compound this effect.

I think the impact of the Yoga depends on the style you do..There are many different variations, with varying levels of activity (personally, I prefer a more active style, so I chose Inyengar). The other major influence is the teacher. Yours seems to be knowledgable enough to respect your understanding of diabetes. I'd do the same for them (with a careful level of scepticism).

If the Yoga has some additional benefit to your hormones\pancreatic enzymes, which also assist your control all well and good. If it works do you need to question\understand it? After all, while science is the search for truth, even the most arrogant scientists (of which I am one in the broader terms) would not claim to understand everything.

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Postby Mel » Sat May 16, 2009 9:51 am

even the most arrogant scientists (of which I am one in the broader terms) would not claim to understand everything.

I agree with that and the general concept of you've got nothing to lose by trying it etc. I can't speak for Kate, but for me what I find annoying is the arrogance of some alternative therapists who seem to act like they know more about diabetes and can offer more help than evidence-based medicine can provide. That gets up my nose a bit, I mean if you go to a yoga class you shouldn't get unasked for medical advice and it's even more arrogant to follow it up by email when it is obviously unwelcome.
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Postby mfcr06 » Tue May 19, 2009 7:16 am

A simple, "Mate, my pancreas is dead, no amount of yoga is going to breathe life into it. I have Type 1 Diabetes and not Type 2, get your facts straight".

He probably wont bother you after that:)
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Postby lisyloo » Tue May 19, 2009 1:10 pm

I'd be inclined to give it a go, myself; I don't see the harm in it, I guess just make your instructor aware that diabetes is a complicated beast and you'll just do it as you see fit.

I had a naturopath tell me to get my partner to press on a point down the side of my ribs to stimulate my pancreas; true enough, it REALLY hurt to press there but again I don't know that she really understood there was no insulin for it to release.... but overall i am a big fan of all alternative therapies so long as it doesn't include crazy amounts of 'supplements'. as if insulin isn't pricey enough wihtout more pills etc
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Postby Tory » Wed May 20, 2009 10:56 am

Reading this has been really interesting, but I don't think 'lowering BG' is quite that same as what he claims - although I do believe that hormones can be effected by yoga and other types of 'traditional medicine', I don't think you will start producing inslulin. We all know there are a lot of unexplained reasons why our insulin may work more effectively or our BG might drop, I go low in the summer due to heat, but never have any effects from Reflexology, which I do regularly, for example. I don't actually think he was claiming to be able to get you to produce insulin again...

However, It may be that he is correct to an extent, but still a little confused on the dynamics. Maybe he has researched the effects of certain poses on blood glucose levels, and they have been found to drop. This doesn't mean you're producing insulin all of a sudden (I hope, otherwise I'm starting back at Yoga every day!) but his intention was good, jsut a bit misleading.

I love some of the suggestions above!! You could always try "thanks for your input. I'll have a think about it and let you know if i'm interested in trying any of the poses you recommend".

I visited a Feldenkrais practitioner once who also claimed that if I "tried harder, I wouldn't be diabetic". Hmmm!
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Postby Topcat » Wed May 20, 2009 11:57 am

It is accepted, here anyway, that no exercise or diet or therapy will restore a dead pancreas. Heck, I am T2 and no amount of exercise or diet change has changed my diabetes. Over the last few years my insulin requirements have if anything become higher and yet I eat carefully and exercise a lot.

Therefore I suspect the Yoga a do twice a week is not so much having an effect on my pancreas, rather it is effecting the way my body is 'reacting' to insulin and blood sugars.

Disappointingly for me as for everyone else here, it does not look like D is going to miraculously disappear any time soon.

I more than most on RC due to being T2 get the "do this and you will be cured" message, but the reality is for me just as distant as for someone with T1 it seems.
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Postby Lyndal » Wed May 20, 2009 2:11 pm

I've had a chiropractor tell me that he could cure my diabetes, was quite insistent about it - needless to say I only saw him the once!

The other people I find most annoying are religious nuts who try to convince me that praying with them, letting them lay healing hands on me (yeah right), and coming to their church will cure me. Obviously if it doesn't work, I didn't have enough faith.... extended family gatherings are a delight aren't they?
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Postby artemis » Wed May 20, 2009 2:41 pm

Lyndal wrote:religious nuts who try to convince me that praying with them, letting them lay healing hands on me will cure me.

A guy up at the uni tried this with me (he was harmless and genuine, so I let him do his thing, and heck, a bit of prayer never hurts), but even he admitted it was a big ask to cure type 1.
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Postby Steve » Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:06 pm

I'm a qualified Classical Yoga teacher and have had T1 for ~20 years. I have a particular interest in Ayurveda, the 'health science' aspect of yoga. The literature of this tradition predates the distinction between T1 and T2 in our terms. I asked an Ayurvedic master about his claims as to the benefits of this tradition for "diabetes" and it was clear that he didn't differentiate between the conditions in the way that Western science does, though it was evident that he was talking primarily if not exclusively about T2. In Yoga, what we call T1 would be seen as a Pitta/Vata imbalance, whereas T2 is a Kapha imbalance (Pitta, Vata and Kapha are two-part composites of particular elements: fire, water, earth, air and space). Just like there are common treatments for these conditions in Western medicine, there is overlap in Yoga (e.g. both benefit from lower GI diet and from regular exercise - more-so for T2). Some of what is recommended by Yoga for these conditions is consistent with current Western medical advice, whereas other aspects are decidely more esoteric. As to whether asanas (the postures of physical yoga) can benefit T1, I agree that the exercise itself can do the same as any equivalent exercise e.g Pilates by lowering BSLs at the time and for a while after, plus increasing insulin sensitivity if the exercises are done at a sufficient level of intensity, duration and frequency. T1 patients with a higher Pitta (fire energy - which Kate certainly has - I should know - I'm the same) will benefit from the exercice more than would those with higher Vata (air/space). Pitta patients would benefit more from an asana regime that is a decent work-out but doesn't get them too hot (Bikram yoga would be very bad for a pitta patient as would Ashtanga if too vigorous or in hot weather). Vata patients need less movement and more focus on strength and stability, with lots of floor-based work and lying down (increases groundedness) (some forms of Iyengar can be useful if there is more focus on strength than flexibility). Any postures and practices that are calming will benefit T1 (lowers cortisol which improves insulin efficacy). Yoga nidra (the guided meditation done at the end of some asana classes) will be particularly useful. Twisting asanas are said to be good for the adrenals and liver/pancreas. This isn't about squeezing non-existent insulin out! To understand why the twists would work, think more along the lines of TCM and its meridians (as in acupuncture) (which in yoga are called nadis). The full explanation as to why this approach works (or can work, as one size doesn't fit all) is best obtained from a skilled practitioner or relevant text.

I reckon there might have been a bit of a pitta dynamic going on between Kate and her new yoga teacher. The teacher clearly has the 'I can fix it/you' attitude typical of some pitta people (self included), and Kate is rightly sceptical/defensive of his relatively intrusive 'I can fix you if you do what I tell you' approach. He also evidently isn't T1 or he'd likely understand that unless we're dealing with a particular problem arising from T1, I suspect most of us would rather deal with anything other than T1 (as it takes up enough of our energy etc. and some times, more attention only makes it worse). Kate is saying in effect "it ain't broke in a way that I believe you can fix" (and his approach seems generic and doesn't appear to recognise that fiddling with the pancreas isn't going to fix an autoimmune disease). I'd likely have asked him how his focus on the pancreas can address the underlying cause of the disease (I think I know where he's coming from but it warrants explanation). But he's right about being able to potentially improve ease of management by working on aspects of the endocrine system. Doing this is a treatment for the condition but is clearly not a cure. Even a 50% drop in insulin requirements is still not a cure, esp. when maintaining this benefit requires adherence to a considerable physical, mental and likely spiritual regime (with dietary adjustments that are themselves often a challenge).

I suspect that he interpreted Kate's apparently "short" response to his offer of assistance as evidence of Kate having a pitta imbalance (thereby simply reinforcing his view that he can improve her T1, which he might be able to do by addressing what he sees as excess pitta, itself evidence of a major factor in the yogic view of T1 pathology).

Wondering how I would have reacted in Kate's shoes, having likely attended the yoga class for exercise and relaxation rather than thinking of it as a medical consultation. I'd probably have done much the same: "Thanks mate but it's under control. If I feel the need to fiddle with a regime that's working, I'll let you know".

A bit of a test of his cred' would be to see if he'd offer a free private class to train you in the asanas that he recommends (complete with an explanation as to why they would have these benefits).

As a teacher, I wouldn't have followed up the offer (which I probably would not have made until I knew the person better) and subsequent rejection with an email to a new client. I think that's overstepping the boundaries of professionalism, even if it was well-intentioned. It feels a bit like cold-calling to me.
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Postby Kate » Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:35 pm

Fascinating Steve - Thank you. Much to ponder. It is a newly-established yoga school so your 'diagnosis' of spruking for business is spot on. I must learn more about the theory behind yoga one day, but for now am back to my Iyengar school a bit further from home but worth the drive for the excellent (and non-intrusive) teachers! K
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Postby Lyle » Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:18 am

Wow, one learns the darndest things on this forum. That was very thoughtful reply Steve.
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