Interview with Dr. Japa Khalsa….. yoga and TCM for health and healing blood sugar
Last week’s post on Diabetes support, we discussed how different foods can contribute to imbalance in the blood-sugar handling system in our body. We also looked at how we’re all born with different levels of energy reserves and how that effects what we’re able to do and not do during our lives. Additionally, we looked at some food choice changes that can support our overall healthy body balance. To look back at that post and the interview with Dr. Japa Khalsa, click here.
This week, we’ve got another fun talk with Japa Khalsa, DOM and Kundalini Yoga Teacher Trainer. We go into the emotional/mental component of Diabetes, some techniques you can try to help with calming stress levels (which contribute to inflammation and blood sugar imbalance). We also dive into the role that movement and exercise plays in keeping blood sugar levels manageable.
I’m adding in a few of my own tips and tools, in addition to the interview, that I find to be helpful with healing and nourishing our body, mind and spirit. Because Diabetes is a whole body issue, rather than just the spleen and pancreas dysfunction, I like to give you a holistic approach. You can find lots of good general information by doing a google search, and we’ve covered much of that in the past couple of emails. I’m wrapping up today with some ‘not-so-commonly-used-techniques’ for those of you who’ve kept up this long. This is your little ‘added-bonus-A-plus-student-add-on’.
There are a few different reasons, as I see it, that can contribute to this condition:
- Long term intake of high levels of sugars
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Eating as an emotional ‘band aid’ for feelings of depression, anxiety, sadness, fear
- Stress. Results in increased levels of cortisol and epinephrine, which can lead to increased glucose levels and muscle resistance to insulin
- An imbalance in the spleen/pancreas or adrenal/kidney energy flow resulting from accident, injury and/or emotional/mental stress.
I’d like to address each of these areas. As I go through this, I’m not placing any judgement anywhere and hope that you aren’t going to self-judge or negatively judge someone you know who has been diagnosed with Diabetes. We’re all learning, growing, and doing our best as humans and we’re here to support and uplift each other through listening, educating and compassion. This can also be considered a ‘health challenge’ to help each of us grow physically, mentally, spiritually. I find that, if we can look at our health as a barometer of how we’ve lived our life, we can use it as a tool of growth for us to heal and move into our better, higher selves.
Let’s address emotion and eating first…….
We’ve all got history, some good, some bad. Culturally, food is given as rewards and withheld as punishment.We enjoy cozy mornings together with family enjoying breakfast, feasts to celebrate life’s milestones, and relax with friends over the weekend enjoying dinner. If I had a conversation with each of you and got to the root of where you are with your food and eating habits, every single one of you would have a different story.
I’ll tell you my story and you can start thinking about yours:
When I was younger, my mom, who was sort of in the ‘health nut’ category for her time (think ’80’s before Wholefoods and almond milk). We had very little sugar on a daily or weekly basis. Our treats were periodic tapioca or rice pudding, homemade sugar cookies for Christmas and Valentine’s Day, birthday cakes…. that was pretty much it, as far as our sugar intake. Our meals were solid and square: a meat and a vegetable. We sat down to dinner at the dining room table 6 nights out of the week with serving dishes. Food was made by my mother. My sister and I fought over who had to set the table. My parents played Backgammon every single night at the dinner table while my sister and I had to clear the table and do dishes. I remember this with great relish. Things were organized, simple, quiet, and safe. When I turned 14, my parents divorced. No more evening dinners, no more after-school snacks at the kitchen table with my mom home. My life turned upside down, as far as food, safety and coziness went. We lived with my Dad, whose idea of a taco salad was lettuce with some Pace salsa and ground up tortilla chips on it. Dinner was irregular and up to each individual in my house. I didn’t have lunches at school and either didn’t eat at all or took leftovers from my friends’ lunches.
Fast forward to age 24. At this point, I’m a sugar addict. I eat sweets all the time (homemade, of course, but nonetheless, still simple carbs, sugar and butter). I’m addicted to food: Always thinking about when I’m going to eat, over eating to make sure that I’ll have enough to last me to the next meal, I over-shop to make sure we always have enough food in the fridge. I’m constantly thinking about the next meal.
Fortunately, I never had a weight issue, so all of this wasn’t affecting my weight. However, over the years, I realized how neurotic I became about food. I’m still in the process of working all of this out. Understanding why my relationship with food became so obsessive helped in the healing of it. While I continue to work on my habits, and I think this is probably a life-long healing, it helps me to stay conscious and mindful about what I put into my body, how I eat it and where (I really try not to eat while driving or walking around). All of these practices help me with loving myself and caring for my body.
I’m sharing this with all of you in the hopes that it encourages you to take some time to write down your story in relationship to food. If we can gain understanding about where we came from, it can help with healing our present and future. Food is a HUGE issue in our culture. If we’re to find healing in ourselves, finding out how we got to where we are now, requires taking a look at our past.
Do you remember how you developed your relationship with food? Take a few minutes to sit and write. Try to remember your environments: did you feel safe when you ate, was there enough food? Too much? Were you forced to sit at the table if you didn’t finish your food? Were parents or others fighting around you while you were eating? Did you feel cozy and cared for? If you can identify where your relationship with food comes from, it helps bring to light how you’re currently eating and what you’re eating.
High Stress Levels
Long -term high levels of stress can directly lead to inflammation and high levels of insulin production, which can lead to blood sugar dysregulation. This kind of stress can result from spousal or familial tensions, living with a teenager (my current long term stress-inducer), divorce, unpleasant job situation, long term care of a family member, financial stress…..and many more causes, this is just a short list of the most common stressors.
There is also physical stress that comes from sedentary life style (sitting is now considered the new smoking), repetitive motions such as computer use, factory work, strenuous physical exertion (yes, even too much exercise can cause negative physical stress).
Stress can also come from multi-tasking. As a busy mother, I’m running my own Chiropractic practice, caring for my patients, while also sending out health-tip posts, taking my children to school, shopping, cleaning my house, making sure everyone has clean clothes, signing permission forms, going on field trips, making sure my husband gets a little bit of attention, participating in my community through bake sales, picking up garbage off the roadside, worrying about the environment, making sure my friends feel supported….you get the picture. And, I’m sure your life probably has or is a similar story.
Over the years, I’ve learned that I need to listen to myself and what my body, mind and spirit need to regain balance. I’ve found that, through my own health journey, along with watching hundreds of others, that over-working, over-exerting, over…..anything leads to imbalance. People end up with chronic fatigue, Diabetes, auto-immune disorders, digestive issues, anxiety, depression, insomnia….and the list goes on. What’s important, for this particular topic of Diabetes that we’re focused on in this series, is that stress can lead to imbalance in the liver, adrenal, and spleen system, which can lead to dysfunction in the blood sugar response system.
What you can do to regain BALANCE
I’ve covered a few different areas above:
- Long term, low grade physical, emotional and mental stress
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Eating for emotional reasons
Below is my ‘short list’ of self-care techniques for supporting a healthy blood sugar level
- Bow pose to stimulate the pancreas
- Cat-Cow for the adrenals
- Chant ‘Long Sat Nam’ to stimulate the pituitary and hypothalamus
- Lymphatic stimulation points. K 27 point to help support the kidneys
- Exercise. I know you’ve heard this a million times, but, it’s true. Exercising does 2 things for you: helps to use up that excess blood sugar floating around in the blood stream so that it’s not just hanging around with the potential to damage cells (think bored teenage boys… keep them active or they get into trouble).
- Mindfulness. This is a practice that involves staying very tuned in and connected to how your mind and body feel at all times (or, at least, most of the time). Staying mindful might mean watching the length and depth of your breath and staying connected in that way. It might mean feeling out what that doughnut or coffee did to your energy level. It might mean tuning into how that 11th check into your Facebook page is draining your energy. This simply means connecting with You. How do you feel in the moment? That friend of yours, do they build you up or pull you down? It’s about being aware of yourself and how you want to be in the world.
- Cold showers. They increase circulation, increase overall body function and help increase disease resistance, and stimulates the glandular system. It increases life energy and extends the aura (your own private energy bubble), and builds immunity.
- Note: start with a sponge bath to build up your tolerance before immersing in cold water, especially if you experience neuropathy in your limbs. If you’d like a more in-depth look at how to properly ‘do’ cold showers, see my post.
- Foot Reflexology. This is an ancient healing method of rubbing specific points on the feet to stimulate a specific organ. In Diabetic conditions, often times the pancreas is under-functioning and needs a pick-me-up.
- Pancreas (give reflexology chart) rubbing these point with moderate pressure for 1-3 minutes per foot. If sore or painful, practice this daily to help support pancreatic function
- I’m including the Foot Reflexology Chart for your reference. You can play around with this and even work on some other areas of your foot. If it’s sore or painful, it probably means it can use some extra work!
- Long Deep Breathing. I include this in soooooo many posts because it’s one of the greatest tools that you have available to you. You can do this anywhere, anytime. Since I’ve mentioned stress as being a huge causative factor for inflammation and blood sugar regulation issues, LDB is one of those tools that you can put into practice immediately. I recommend starting with 3-5 minutes, 2 times per day to oxygenate your blood and to calm your mind and body. You can watch my instructional video if you’re needing some support.
- Love yourself. Self-love is key to making the positive changes you’d like to see in your life. If you don’t love yourself enough, any changes that you’d like to make won’t stick and old, destructive patterns will remain with you. If you’re feeling like you don’t have the self-love that you’d like to enjoy, there’s an old saying ‘fake it til you make it’. Make positive self-talk your new mantra. See my post for more details on this.
- And lastly, stay around people who support your healthy life style choices. The people you spend the most time around are the ones that will reinforce your decisions. If your friends are taking you to the doughnut shop, it’s highly likely that you’re going to engage in doughnut eating as well, unless you’re incredibly disciplined. I encourage you to find friends and family who support you in your self-care and where you’d like to see yourself and your health.
Just to re-cap here…. Some of you may be scratching your head and wondering why I’ve included things like ‘self-love’ and ‘mindfulness’ in a post about how to care for oneself with Diabetes. This might be new information for you, and, as I said above, a lot of this information is unconventional and won’t be taught in your doctor’s office and the pharmaceutical companies are definitely not talking about this in the advertisements. I know that. That’s why you’re here with me…..if you’ve followed me this far, you know that I’m passing along information to you that’s not part of the mainstream media. If health were easy, we’d all be there. Health is a journey and takes time, patience and the unconventional, sometimes, to allow that magic to happen. Let it unfold in you and watch your inner, true you shine.
Thank you for following along with me on this journey. I hope that there’s some enlightening tools for you here to partake of. This series has been a very long process in the making and will only be available for you by email. I’m going to develop this into an online class for purchase in the future. There’s A LOT more that I have to share, but I wanted to get this out to you so that you can start thinking about Diabetes and other disease processes in a different, holistic way.
Take some time to practice, at least, one of the above-mentioned tips or something that Dr. Japa mentions in our interview. It only takes 1 small change to start the healing process. If you take one step toward healing, your body will suck that up with relish and give back to you 100 times that effort. I promise you, it will be SO worth it.
Thank you so, so much for allowing me to be a part of your healing journey. I’d so much appreciate if you’d be so kind as to pass this along to anyone that you think may benefit.
As always, yours in health and healing,
My Challenge to You
We’ve covered A LOT in these past few posts! I don’t expect you to drop all of your habits and apply all of these new tools into your life tomorrow. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you may have found a pattern with my ‘challenges’. Usually, one of these tips will really resonate with you. If you’re finding that, take that as your intuition’s guide for you to start with that one thing. Take it and run with it for 40 days. I love the ’40 day’ idea because it helps to change old patterns and develop new ones. Something in our psyche shifts and gives us that boost that we need to make real, long-lasting changes.
If adding a 10 minute walk sounds do-able for you, great! Give yourself that gift. If eliminating sugary pastries for breakfast is up your alley, go for it! Start a meditation, or one of the yoga postures we presented this week. Just start something and commit to yourself to follow through for the 40 days.
You’ve got this!!
And….keep us posted…you can post in my Facebook group about what you’ve chosen to improve upon in your life and get the support of our community there. We’ve got a super supportive group there, so join in the fun and support!