Diabetic in Hot Yoga Class

As a hot yoga teacher, getting back into my own yoga practice has been a challenge. Just as food and insulin react with my body differently from day to day, exercise can also have extremely different impacts on my body and sugar levels. The heat in hot yoga class adds another element, making planning for and recovering from a yoga class quite challenging.

The most frustrating class I recently took was a hot power flow class. Before class I made sure to eat a snack of apples and almond butter to provide my body with protein and sugar it would need for this class. Before class, my sugars sat a bit high at 130, which I expected would allow for my sugars to lower safely due to exercise. I enjoyed the class, although it was challenging since I cannot maintain a “regular” practice just yet. I felt okay after class, and went to check my sugars in the locker room, assuming they would have dropped. Instead they had skyrocketed to 192!

It seems that they heat in the yoga room causes a stress response in the body which causes more adrenaline to pump through the body, increasing sugar levels in an attempt to prepare the body for danger. While exercise usually takes sugars down, this stress response over-rode that drop….

at least at first…

I didn’t dose myself after class because I waited 2 hours to see how my sugars would readjust. Good thing, because soon I was back to a safe 123. I thought this meant all was clear and the rest of the day would be smooth sailing. Again, WRONG.

The rest of the day my sugars fluctuated up and down, but I was able to stabilize for most of the day.

At bedtime my sugars were 100, so I had a small snack, took my night time dose of Lantus (long-acting insulin) and called it a night. I slept soundly until 3 am.

Hello, low blood sugar! I woke up to a scary number of about 35. Luckily I had glucose tablets next to my bed, so I took one. The symptoms of a cold sweat, shakiness, light headedness, and difficulty thinking was overwhelming. Once I felt well enough to move, I got up to have some juice and snacks. Feeling low while in the kitchen makes you want to raid the fridge and eat everything in site– resisting this was tough! After keeping myself up for a few hours to monitor my sugars, I was finally back up to 170 (way too high, but safer to sleep while high rather than risk another low).

Exercise impacts the body and blood sugar levels up to about 24 hours after the actual physical activity. My body was so sensitive to both the heat of the 100 degree room and the exercise, and I had to deal with the results diligently throughout the day and the night.

Does anyone else have advice or experiences regarding dealing with sugars in hot yoga or hot exercise of any kind? It is all a learning experience and a fine balancing act. I hope to get back to a somewhat “normal” practice in the near future while staying safe and feeling good!

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