November is National Diabetes MonthHopefully, you don’t have diabetes, but with National Diabetes Month on my mind, I wanted to chat you up about how yoga can help you improve your chances of never having to deal with diabetes.
One of the reasons I fell in love with yoga is that it’s scientific! How they knew, thousands of years ago, that a simple twist could help tone the pancreas, lower the insulin levels, and aid digestion is a mind-blower! It wasn’t discovered by western civilization until the 3rd century BC.
Science has been studying these ancient yoga practices and proving that the Yoga asanas, or poses, help to increase flexibility, tone the muscles, lower the stress hormones, and a bunch of other important stuff-- Yoga’s in the news all the time these days, with one study after another giving voice to the potency of Yoga.
One profound benefit of yoga that doesn’t usually get in the news—how yoga helps to tone the glands of the subtle endocrine system. The pancreas is actually an organ AND a gland! It’s located behind the stomach, so it’s on the back-side of the body. When we do spinal twists, we give a nice massage to this organ, squeezing out old blood, like wringing out a sponge. When we release the twist, fresh blood rushes into the organ and refreshes it. This helps to encourage the hormones—think insulin—to stay balanced.
Spinal twists also have other benefits, such as toning the muscles that support the spine, and massaging the adrenals and kidneys, which are also located toward the back-side of the body. If you sit very long at a desk, you can practice an easy twist right there on your chair. Here’s how:
Sitting comfortably on your chair, inhale as you feel your spine getting long and shoulders getting nice and wide. Then as you exhale, begin to turn your left shoulder toward the back of the chair, bringing your left hand behind you and use it to take hold of the chair. Bring your right hand across the body to take hold of the opposite knee. Keep your chin parallel to the floor. Continue to breathe deeply as you focus your attention all along your spine, and notice how it feels. Try to imagine what your pancreas looks like, and where it’s located. Begin to unwind, and do the other side.
If you want to learn more about this wonderful organ, look it up on Wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancreas
Usually, we think of the physical benefits of yoga, but there are also tremendous benefits to the mind and psyche. It’s a wonderful anti-dote for depression and a powerful stress management tool. We’ll learn more about that in our next blog. In the meantime, if you can come to Yogaville, Virginia for a workshop titled Big Yoga for Less Stress, which is also the title of my new book coming out in the New Year.
Meera Patricia Kerr
Author: BigYoga: A Simple Guide for Bigger Bodies