YMCA launches yoga therapy workshops for diabetics

The City of San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health District reported, last year, that more than one in seven residents have been diagnosed with diabetes.  Among seniors in Bexar County, the figure skyrockets to one in three. Hispanics are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, and are 50 percent more likely to die from diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.

There is no clear cut answer why diabetes is an epidemic, but we can address blood sugar management to prevent renal failure, amputations, cardiovascular disease, and other problems associated with diabetes.

Now, the D.R. Semmes YMCA at TriPoint, located at 281 and St. Mary’s, is introducing Yoga Therapy workshops designed for diabetics and pre-diabetics. The sessions which begin the week of January 13, and continue through February, will go far beyond hatha yoga to include elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.

THE SUGAR DROP is a unique six-week series of therapeutic yoga, offered to anyone who has pre-diagnosed high blood sugar, including pre-diabetics, formerly known as borderline diabetes. THE SUGAR DROP will incorporate bodywork, meditation, breathing exercises and easy-to-incorporate lifestyle changes essential for treatment blood sugar imbalances.

THE SUGAR DROP participants can choose between a series of six-week morning or evening practices designed to help attendees make subtle changes in their lifestyle to bring about positive results in their physical and emotional well being.

To ensure personalization within the series, workshops will be limited in attendance. The workshops are open to the public, with discounts for members of any YMCA.

While Western medicine relies on oral meds, or insulin, to “manage” blood sugar levels, holistic approaches, including those used in THE SUGAR DROP, seek to address the root of the disease.

“If you only address physicality, you won’t reach the cause,” said Chase Bossart, co-director of Yoga as Therapy North America (YATNA).  “Yoga Therapists can train people to alter their lifestyles to help them with specific issues, and at the same time, help them to have a healthier mind/body/soul for longer term.”

Gary Kraftsow, a yoga therapist who studied with one of the foremost yogis in India agrees it’s about lifestyle. “The basic principle of yoga cikitsa (therapy) is that diseases are symptoms of imbalance; and therefore, the orientation of yoga cikitsa is to restore balance.”

Clinical studies have proven that the multiple branches of yoga provide physical benefits for people with a wide range of health needs. Yoga reduces stress, helps control excess eating and contributes to weight management, all of which are critical for those suffering from high blood sugar.

Research has also proven that yogis have better balanced diets, and a five percent loss in body weight can reduce blood sugar levels. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle conducted a study of 1500 overweight individuals over the age of 50: Those who dedicated time at least once a week to yoga (regardless of the type of yoga) over a period of four years or more were nearly 20 pounds lighter than those who did not practice yoga. The researchers' theory was that the yogis had less stress and better diets than the others in the study.  Most likely because the practice of yoga generally brings about a more positive and healthy lifestyle.

Therapeutic Yoga is a complementary support, not an alternative to other essential treatment plans, and participants will be required to have recent A1C readings. No prior yoga experience is necessary. For more information on yoga for diabetics, read http://thenamastecounsel.com/yoga-diabetics/

To register, visit the Welcome Center at the D.R. Semmes YMCA or contact deborah.charnes@gmail.com