Doctoral student’s research explores the impact of yoga on diabetes


Adam Ziegenhals

Doctoral candidate, Maricarmen Vizcaino demonstates the yoga she teaches to UTEP faculty and staff members.

Julia Hettiger, Staff Reporter

Maricarmen Vizcaino, doctoral candidate in UTEP’s Interdisciplinary Health Sciences program, is writing her dissertation on the impact of yoga on people who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Vizcaino, a certified yoga instructor, has been teaching yoga classes for faculty and staff members at UTEP for two years.

This summer, she will be conducting research on a group of 40 participants who have type 2 diabetes. The research will include a three-month intensive yoga program.

Vizcaino has been researching this topic since 2008, when she decided to write her thesis on the subject.  She hopes to bring more awareness about the impact yoga can have on diabetes.

For the future, she plans on researching the impact of yoga on different diseases like type 2 diabetes.

Finding new roads of investigation for future researchers.

“Once I graduate I would like to continue my research in this topic, investigating the impact of yoga on patients with different health status, obese or normal weight, with complications or without complications, well-controlled or poorly controlled as far as glycemic values,” Vizcaino said. “Also, the impact of different types of yoga and meditation and the impact of yoga on different types of diabetes medications.”

The yoga classes take place every week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in the Centennial Museum at noon. The purpose of these classes is to help encourage faculty members to get in shape, build flexibility and give them an opportunity to exercise regularly.

She believes yoga to be more of a lifestyle than a sport, and she said she has matured because of it.

“It has become a way of life for me. I truly believe that I’ve become a better human being because of the journey that I started. Learning about ancient Eastern philosophical traditions has changed my vision of the world, human nature and my capacity to grow spiritually.” Vizcaino said. “I’ve taken responsibility for my own happiness, I’ve become aware of my duty toward society and more compassionate toward all living beings.”

She began conducting this research because of a sports injury she suffered in her lower back when she was 21-to 22-yearsold.

“I was inspired by the life-changing experience that yoga has been for me,” Vizcaino said. “After constant yoga practice the pain was gone and never came back, not even now that I have run two half-marathons and I train for sprint triathlons.”

Conducting this research and being a part of the health science doctoral program has impacted her life in many ways and requires a lot of dedication and hard work.

“Being a graduate student is not easy, especially if you go for your doctoral degree,” Vizcaino said. “You have to place your entire life on hold and have very limited time.”

While she has made sacrifices in order to be a part of this program and conduct this research, it is very rewarding for her because she loves what she does.

“Feeling passionate about this topic and enjoying what I do is what keeps me going every day even when I feel tremendously exhausted or overwhelmed about all the work that has to be done,” Vizcaino said. “When a poster gets accepted for a conference, when a presentation goes well, when a paper is accepted for publication, you know you are on the right path and you just keep going.”

Julia Hettiger may be reached at [email protected]