When Rachel Zinman, a health-conscious yoga teacher, developed Type 1 diabetes as an adult, her shock at receiving the diagnosis was followed by years of self-blame. Although she had to face the reality that yoga and all the other helpful modalities she had tried were not cures for her diabetes, she found that the lifestyle guidance provided by Ayurveda, the ancient Indian “science of life,” helped her to balance both her condition and her life. And she found, in the simplicity and discipline of yoga, a “great friend and companion” that she could trust to be there for her through all the ups and downs of living with a complex and unpredictable chronic disease.
Zinman explores and clarifies the complexities of Ayurveda, from its understanding of nature and the five elements—earth, water, fire, air, and space—to the way these exist in the three human constitutional types, or “doshas,” and the different ways diabetes may appear in each type. She describes the beautiful choreography of these three doshas as they manifest, not just in the individual, but in the seasons, times of day, and life stages of all living beings.
In Ayurveda, Zinman found a way to understand the self as an individual, to see things more objectively, and to navigate the changing moods and reactions that arise in a complex and unpredictable disease like diabetes. And in yoga, with its ability to help us separate who we are from the disease we have, she recognized herself as a beautiful, powerful being. Zinman writes that, “Ayurveda and yoga offer the perfect solution to manage the energy system that is the body. Knowledge of your body puts the power back in your hands.”
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