March 30, 2011
My treat for the month has been taking a Hoop Dancing class from my delightful friend Lia . . . who also has diabetes. Hoop Dancing, or “hooping,” is a fun way to strengthen and tone your body and burn 450 to 600 calories per hour . . . providing you can keep your blood sugar from dropping! It is also a great way to center your mind and nourish your spirit.
If you watch closely as someone is hooping, you will notice that the body remains relatively still as the hoop is in constant motion . . . Which reminds me of the “practice” of Yoga, as an exercise in keeping your mind calm and your body centered in the midst of a sea of thoughts that incessantly vie for attention.
Not surprisingly, the practice of Yoga has been helpful to me as I am learning to hoop, in the same way that mind-body skills help you stay centered and aware in all areas of life . . . especially when it comes to the management and care of diabetes. Mind-body awareness helps you notice subtle changes that occur in your body when stress levels begin to rise; when you are hungry or satiated; when your blood sugar is rising or falling; or when your thinking is cloudy or clear.
Diabetes is more than a disorder of glucose metabolism . . . It is also an inflammatory disorder that is aggravated by high blood sugar levels, rapidly fluctuating blood sugar, and poor nutritional intake. Not surprisingly, there is an increased incidence of Frozen Shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) and other inflammatory processes in people who have diabetes . . . And they can creep in rather quickly if you are not paying attention to early signs that something is changing.
My first clues were increasing difficulty in twisting my arm behind my back to fasten my bra, and difficulty reaching into the back seat of my car. As time progressed I experienced sharp pain at times when my arm was suddenly moved or stretched, and my arm ached during the night if it was not properly positioned. Eventually the pain became so intense that I sought medical evaluation. After x-rays and referral to an Orthopedic Surgeon it was decided that I had a Frozen Shoulder, and I was given a list of exercises to help loosen the scar tissue and increase the range of motion in my arm. Talk about PAIN . . . Screaming out loud, bring tears to your eyes kind of pain. And the use of “yoga breathing” as I slowly breathed out into the pain was the only thing that allowed my muscles to relax enough to continue the stretch . . . But amazingly my arm ached a great deal less following each session, and slowly, with the use of other Yoga postures for stretching and strength I was able to regain movement. It took nearly a year to become “pain free” and nearly another to regain full range of motion.
Unfortunately, nobody told me that “Yogi Hoopla” could have kept me flexible enough to PREVENT a great deal of pain!