Love, Yoga & Insulin


My diagnosis wasn’t the reason we divorced, but it certainly didn’t help. My husband and I lived harmoniously for well over 15 years. But then I was diagnosed with diabetes.

What do you do when the person you love announces that If you get any sicker he won’t be there?

Not long after my separation I met John.

Like me, John practices and teaches yoga. When we met my diabetes was a given. He never once saw it as a burden or in the way. In fact, he encouraged me to see it as an asset. Taking care of my diabetes meant taking care of me.

I love John’s sensitive attitude to my wellbeing.

As hard as it is for us to deal every day with rampant blood glucose levels, fears of complications and emotional ups and downs, we mustn’t forget that our partners are right there alongside us.

When John and I met, I wasn’t on insulin, and as we didn’t really know exactly what kind of trajectory I was on, he suggested I work with specific practices to try and manage my levels.

We worked with breathing, yoga postures and meditation. But mostly he shared traditional yoga teachings which look at the connection between thoughts and stress. His very first teaching?

“The disease is something you have. You can never be the disease.”

Another potent teaching was to understand the nature of thoughts and what it means to think.

“A thought is a label. A name for a thing. I arm a thought and pull the trigger. When a thought comes into my awareness I choose to surf the thought. A thought has no dimension on its own. Try and hang on to a thought, it’s Impossible!”

When I applied some of these profound ‘thoughts’ to managing my diabetes, the first thing I realised was that the ‘thoughts’ I had about my diagnosis and diabetes were worse than the actual diabetes itself. The body has a disease, and the body needs help to manage it. Me getting all stressed out, annoyed, angry etc. doesn’t actually change the nature of the disease. It just creates more stress.

I can remember a point early on in our relationship when John kept insisting that we were in this together. Although he could never feel what it was like to have diabetes, he certainly was tuned in to the challenges. Together we decided to look for answers. He found me the best Ayurvedic physician in the country and supported me as I looked into acupuncture, herbs, diet and more. After nearly three years of searching amidst rising blood sugar levels, he finally put his foot down.

“We’ve given it our best shot,” he insisted, “and now it’s time to go back to the specialist and heed his advice. No matter what the outcome, you will always be stronger than your diagnosis.”

John was right there with me when my doctor told me it was time to start insulin. His eyes were full of love when he watched and supported me in taking my first shot, and after two years of daily injections, he still reminds me not to panic when my levels are unstable.

And because we both love yoga, its practices and teachings, his visionary approach and relaxed attitude supports me to take a deep breath when I start to feel overwhelmed.

I used to have this dream that I would meet someone, fall in love and live happily ever after. When my first marriage failed it was hard not to blame my illness and I certainly didn’t expect to find love again so soon. But what I’ve learned through living with diabetes is that life doesn’t ever give you what you expect.

Sometimes you get something even better … Love, Yoga AND Insulin.

WRITTEN BY Rachel Zinman, POSTED 01/10/17, UPDATED 02/15/18

Rachel was diagnosed with diabetes in 2008. At first the doctors weren’t sure whether it was Type 1 or 2 as she wasn’t a typical candidate for either. It took nearly six years to get the right diagnosis. Now, she knows that she's a Type 1 LADA diabetic. She started yoga in high school at 17 and by the age of 19, she was hooked. When she began Yoga it was to help her dance career, but eventually as her practice progressed, she became passionate about the deeper aspects of yoga and its ability to heal and inspire. 30 odd years later, she still practices passionately and has been teaching nationally (in Australia) and internationally since 1992. She's also a mother, a musician, a writer and amateur film maker. She is absolutely sure that Yoga is for everybody and it's her mission to share what she's learned with the diabetes community as well as raising awareness about Type 1 amongst yoga teachers both locally here in Australia and globally.