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Can You Manage Type 1 Diabetes with Yoga?

Can You Manage Type 1 Diabetes with Yoga?

September 07, 2021

If you have spent much time in the fitness world, you have likely heard of or dabbled in yoga. From free university classes for stress relief to strip mall studios, the popularity of yoga has exploded within a matter of decades. Several yoga channels on YouTube receive millions of views each week. Though westerners typically think of yoga as a low-intensity way to exercise, the practice has a history that is older than the Roman empire and encompasses a wide range of philosophical and spiritual practices.

Advocates for the practice suggest that yoga is not just a spiritual practice, but it also improves physical health. Research indicates the claim is valid, as yoga leads to improvements in circulation, muscle development, and blood pressure. For people with type 1 diabetes, improvements in circulation mean that the body can more readily absorb insulin into the body's tissues. Additionally, yoga’s positive effects on the cardiovascular system can lower your risk for heart disease, a condition that people with diabetes are more likely to develop and develop younger than average.

Yoga also has well-researched benefits for mental health. Meta-analysis and reviews of scientific literature around yoga show that it measurably improves the quality of life for individuals with a wide variety of conditions, including diabetes. Yoga’s effect on mental health seems to derive partly from its physicality. Exercise generally improves mood and alleviates stress and depression. Yoga also happens to emphasize meditation and self-reflection during each workout. With a combination like that, it’s hard not to walk away from a yoga session feeling better! When we feel better, we are more likely to actively focus on self-care, which includes taking medication, managing blood sugar, and paying attention to our diet.

Are you interested in starting yoga yet? We love being active, so if you’re excited to join a yoga class as a type 1 diabetic, here are some things you should know:

1.) Yoga Can Affect Your Blood Sugar Significantly

Like all exercise, yoga can lead to drops in your blood sugar. Depending on the type of yoga or the speed of your instructor, yoga can be quite strenuous. You may need to reduce your meal insulin bolus accordingly. Typically, hot yoga or classes that involve challenging poses—or rapid changes in poses—will lead to more significant drops in blood sugar, as they are more physically demanding. However, everyone is different, so it’s best to be mindful.

2.) Your CGM or Pump May Fall Out

You’ve seen how bendy yoga can get. While the back of an arm is normally a secure spot during day-to-day life, during yoga, the back of your arm is used to jack your leg behind your neck. If you plan on becoming a full-time yogi, you may need to reconsider where you’re applying your CGM or insulin pump. Alternatively, you can use adhesive patches to protect them. Skin Grip makes a protective overpatch for the Freestyle Libre, Dexcom G6, Omnipod, Medtronic Guardian, and other devices. These patches of medical tape for insulin pumps and diabetic sensors will keep them secured to your body during a yoga session and last for the full 10-14 day lifespan of the device—definitely a must-have for any aspiring type-1 contortionists.

3.) You May Become Addicted

The feeling of falling into a corpse pose (yes, that’s a real thing) after a challenging yoga session is indescribably sublime. Yoga may look like a slow, easy series of stretches, but it can make you sweat and leave you just as sore as a grueling resistance workout. Every day you find muscles you didn’t know you had, and feeling them strengthen is a reason to celebrate. If you already work out in the gym regularly, yoga will improve your mobility and help break plateaus on the treadmill or in the squat rack. Most of all, you will find the self-assured knowledge that each day of meditation will help you transcend just slightly above your peers and loved ones. You vibrate on a higher plane than those poor, sad, non-flexible chumps.

In all seriousness, yoga is a practice that will lead to tangible benefits in your physical and mental health and can help you live an active, healthy lifestyle. One of the missions of Skin Grip is to empower people with type 1 diabetes to live fearless lives of adventure in the yoga studio, on the trail, or in the water. We know that involves keeping our sensors and devices where they should be, so less time is spent worrying about losing or replacing a sensor, and more time is spent worrying about whether we have the hamstring flexibility to get into a downward dog.

If you would like to try Skin Grip, we’ll send you a sample for free. Our waterproof, hypoallergenic adhesive patches are designed to give people with type 1 diabetes the peace of mind to do anything.

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