What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘balance’ in relationship to your diabetes management?
Is it routine? Focus? Stability? Finding balance with a disease like diabetes is quite a challenge. Just when you think you’ve got it all sorted the playing field changes and your pancreas wigs out on you yet again.
When I get all muddled up with managing my diabetes I go back to the yoga mat and practice my favourite balancing posture, tree pose.
Practising tree pose reminds me that balance doesn’t necessarily mean equilibrium. Instead balance is a fluid state that takes you a little bit one way and then the other to find centre.
A teacher of mine explained it like this; when they shoot a rocket to the moon it’s trajectory is never in a straight line. In their calculations they aim a little to the left, then adjust course a little to the right until eventually they hit the mark.
It’s these steady adjustments in our daily diabetes management that give us a sense of balance. Rather than seeking for perfection it’s best to relax, create and adjust.
In a balancing pose like tree, creative adjusting is reflected in the continuous movement of your ankle as you stand on one leg. Once you are in the pose the standing leg and ankle adjusts and readjusts so you can find steadiness in the posture.
The other beautiful thing about tree pose is its placement in the yoga sequence. It comes after the grounding standing postures and before the more dynamic backbends, inversions and calming forward bends. Think of it like a pause in a sentence.
When I practice tree, the busyness of moving between strengthening and stretching postures gives way to stillness and focus. My breath slows down, my mind calms and I feel the essence of my heart beat.
These simple moments of stillness and reflection are essential amidst the daily diabetes experience too. If you can stop, pause and breathe amidst the roller coaster blood sugars, the ups and downs of your emotions you’ll find its easier to accept whatever’s going on.
No matter whether you’re new to yoga or you’ve been practicing for a while tree is a perfect pose to try. As a beginner it will challenge you to find balance, focus and increase your determination. As a regular practitioner it develops your certainty, will power and enhances your ability to concentrate.
In the instructions below bear in mind that you can also place your hand on a wall or hold the back of a chair to help you balance.
Enjoy this simple posture whenever you need to take a moment for your self.
Stand at the top of your mat in Mountain pose, big toes touching, heels slightly apart.
Shift the weight to the right leg and gently place the left heel on the right ankle pressing the ball of the left foot into the floor.
Next, place the left foot along the inside of the right shin.
If you feel balanced, grip the left ankle with your left hand and place the left foot against the right inner thigh where the groin and top thigh meet.
Your hips are level and face the top of the mat while your knee comes forward slightly.
Place your hands in prayer position at your heart, open your chest, relax your shoulders.
Breathe deeply gazing at a point either straight ahead or slightly down in front of you.
Release the foot and come back to Mountain pose.
Repeat on the other side.
Tree pose strengthens the ankle and foot.
It opens the hip of the bent leg.
It’s soothing for the nervous system.
A calming and cooling posture.
Place the left foot along the inside of the right shin.
Take the arms over head pressing palms together.
By Rachel Zinman