Yoga + Blood Sugar Levels

gridptabi-joyce

One of the more entertaining aspects of having a blog for me is that I can see what phrases people Google to find Lila in the first place. Somedays I get some super random and funny ones. For example, a few of my recent favorites “ashtanga kicks my ass sometimes and sometimes not”, and, “hope for lila blog”, and “support patanjali dream through facebook.”

One phrase, or version of it, that often appears is “how does ashtanga yoga change my body.”

When we talk about how yoga changes our physical bodies we often talk about how it makes us more flexible or stronger and that is all good and true. I love that my Ashtanga practice has given my arms definition and made my big ol’ bootay round. But, one of the most awesome results of my consistent yoga practice is not something you can see by looking at me.

My whole adolescence and early 20s I struggled with hypoglycemia. It was most likely triggered by my bout with anorexia as a 12/13/14 year old, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I had had problems with my blood sugar levels even before that. I should check with my mother – hey Mum? Can you confirm/deny that? Anyways, I’ve never had the most robust constitution. My dear husband often jokingly calls me a “fragile little flower.” Sigh…

I remember when I was in high school and college, if I didn’t consume something with calories within the first 45 minutes of being awake, I would get really woozy, nauseous and shaky. I fainted and blacked out frequently too. If I was denied food for too long, I would become a weepy, spacey mess. I remember in my senior year of college when I was doing my Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training we would get up at 4:30 for sadhana. I would be fine for the first few chants, but pretty soon, I would feel so ill and tired because we wouldn’t get to eat until 8:30 am at the earliest. It was not fun.

But, in the past few years, that has all changed. Now my morning goes like this: I wake up, drink a little water, practice for a few hours, come home, shower, tidy up, make breakfast, and then wait for Thad to finish offering it to our house deities before I eat. This means I am typically active for almost 4 hours before I break my fast. And that is rarely ever a problem for me these days.

I credit this new stabilization of my blood sugar levels to my Ashtanga yoga practice because I’ve experienced the change in my body so drastically. I remember those first 6 months of Mysore practice. I would get woozy and uncomfortable very often during practice. I would drag my tired body home after practice, in need of rest and 2 breakfasts! But, over time, I felt light-headed less and less and I would leave Mysore feeling very energized, light and open in my body and read for my day.

If you read through Pattabhi Jois’ “Yoga Mala” you can see all the different beneficial effects on the internal organs the poses of Primary Series have. I imagine, and of course I am not a doctor nor a scientist, that the toning nature on the pancreas and kidneys that many of the asanas have is what has made such positive changes on my blood sugar levels.

Whatever it is, I know the yoga is working, on so many levels. And for this simple physical change, unnoticeable by anyone but myself, I am most grateful.

How has yoga benefited your health and changed your body?Β 

Love and Blessings,

Frances

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16 thoughts on “Yoga + Blood Sugar Levels

  1. Hey Frances:)
    It really is a magic elixir this practice. For over 20 years, I had suffered from what we thought was Crohne’s disease and through a lot of trial and mostly error, we found that it is Celiac and peanut allergy. My practice has helped me tremendously in that my digestion has been forged anew:) yes, I have eliminated the bad foods but, I now have the capacity to “move” like a timely morning train, if ya know what I mean. My digestion hums along without bloating, or other things. My skin glows and that isn’t easy during and after menopause(I’m only 46) which I also thank my practice for, it helped regulate my hormones and really it was no big deal! I look at other people my age(whatever that means) and I cannot help to think that I do not look or feel what 46 is or was or is the standard, I look and feel at least 10yrs younger and that I give all glories to my practice! Haribol!:)

    • Isn’t that awesome?! I love hearing stories like yours. I was amazed in my first year of practice the change in my digestion. I used to get a big food baby after eating because of indigestion and now that only happens if I totally stuff my face..haha.
      I’m so inspired hearing stories of Ashtangis older than I am and how their practice has transformed their bodies during changes like menopause etc.
      It gives me even more motivation to keep my practice up as I age – plus the whole vanity thing, seriously, who wouldn’t want to look and feel 10 years younger πŸ˜‰
      love f

  2. Good morning, darling, my Fragile Flower! I was fascinated to read this post, and realize, with that hindsight that is perfect, that some of your extraordinary emotional swings of childhood most probably related to swings in blood sugar level. Fascinating… Love, Mum

    • Thanks Mum for the confirmation…way to go on being my most devoted reader!
      It definitely seems like there could be a correlation between my emotional swings and blood sugar levels.
      See you soon! Can’t wait for you to meet your grand-dog!
      xo

  3. I totally agree with Joy. The most important benefits was/is the improvement in the digestive area and I think it’s often overlooked. I personally suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and have a tendency for bowel diseases like colitis (and there was a time when my doctor thought I had crohn’s, too) and especially the Primary series with all the forward folds that really go deep into that area, has benefited me on so many levels.
    Of course I have to watch my diet, but my digestion has become so much better since I’ve started Ashtanga and there are often days/weeks when I almost forget that there’s this weird disease sleeping in my body. I’m so grateful for this, because it was threatening to take over my life and now, thanks to Ashtanga, I can be… free πŸ™‚

    Another benefit: I’m such an insomniac and Ashtanga plus meditation before bed have transformed my light, fractured sleep into a mostly deep rest. If the thought train is racing, there’s no way out of it, but my more relaxed attitude really helps.

    • That’s so great to hear about how the practice has improved your digestion. My agni is much stronger too from Primary series for sure.
      Thanks for commenting and sharing your story.

  4. this is really interesting! I’ve found that since returning to a 6 day a week, minus moon days, Ashtanga practice (I was inspired to give up the you tube videos and just dig out my David Swenson book recently!) my digestion has improved and I can also go longer in the morning without feeling like I have to eat something immediately! I don’t think I have blood sugar problems, but I’ve been thinking that my problems with anxiety may be due to refined sugar and white flour. I’m trying to eliminate them as much as possible… hard on a girl who grew up on chips ahoy!

    • Fascinating. It’s so interesting to hear from you and other readers that have had similar experiences with their digestion improving as a result of the practice. I guess this stuff really works πŸ˜‰
      Thanks for reading Lila.
      F

  5. I have some blood sugar swings, but suffer something wicked from migraines. When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a few years back, it seemed my body shut down so profoundly that I was weak, weak, weak and could barely get through walking around the house. My gracious Aunt hired a housekeeper for us while I was in recovery after extensive surgery and chemo. She was Turkish and really turned very doting grandmother. She noted the idea that carbs and sugars probably don’t help anybody heal- whole foods, veggies, fruits, teas, and basic simple exercise that you can build on to regain strength were the way to go.

    She encouraged me to restart my yoga practice- first with a simple am and pm set that focused on stretching and realigning the body. She prescribed 3 ten minute walks a day ‘even if you can only walk up the street and back!’. I listened to her because she also sagely said, “If something you eat causes you pain, don’t eat it. Food is here to make you well.” By the end of that summer I could coach soccer teams and teach dance again, so I suppose she had a good deal of wisdom.

    My body and diet has had to change. I don’t think it’s necessarily due to cancer, I’m in remission. That could have been a trigger- but I’ve cut out heavy fatty red meats (unless I feel I NEED it), so much dairy, sugar and a good deal of carbs. I try to eat whole and healthful foods, exercise mindfully, and bring that to my yoga since it does serve to help realign everything both inside and outside.

    I wonder if hypoglycemia and disordered eating can go hand in hand because that is very much how my teens and early twenties were too. I enjoy being strong now but I also recognize I have a more consistent balance to blood sugar and appetite. P.S. One time somebody Googled my website under “Best Asses in Czechoslovakia”. No. I don’t understand it either.

    • β€œIf something you eat causes you pain, don’t eat it. Food is here to make you well.” What sage advice! Such a blessing to have had the assistance and support of a wise woman like that. I’m happy to hear your health is so much better these days.
      Yes, I definitely think there’s a probable correlation between disordered eating and blood sugar issues. I know that my eating disorder came at a time of growth for me, so it threw off all sorts of things.
      Thanks for reading and commenting
      F

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