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10 February 2009

my therapeutic yoga class


Okay, jury's in: I love my therapeutic yoga class. I was really overwhelmed after my first session--everyone in the class is amazing in his or her own way, and everyone has at least one (at least!) major health obstacle she's trying to cope with. All those fears about not being flexible enough, about not being able to keep up, about not doing things "correctly," have flown out the window. Slowly but surely I'm taking to heart my experienced yoga teacher's words: if your movements are painful, you're not doing yoga. Everyone's body is completely different from the next, so one person's ability to move in a certain way should not be judged against the next person's. In doing some arm exercises, I pushed myself to keep my arms high despite their beginning to get tingly and painful. After the class, I mentioned the discomfort to my teacher, who told me to lower my arms significantly--if that didn't work, we'd figure out another modification that would perhaps allow me to do this exercise.

Each class is two hours long but is not rigorous or stressful in the least. We move slowly and mindfully, paying attention to our breathing and always taking note of how our movements make our bodies feel. (I speak as if I'm a self-proclaimed guru at this point--this is far from the case, but speaking confidently about the practice sure can't hurt!) It's hard for me to slow my mind down, to not pay attention to the racing thoughts that flit across my brain like so many little birds.

There are two other severe chronic migraineurs in the class, and I completely misjudged how wonderful it'd be to talk with them in person. I've gained so much through web-based relationships on this blog (and in using other health websites), but to see someone's face as she describes her life with migraine is such a different experience. One woman's headaches were daily and severe. She, like me, made TONS of lifestyle changes all at once. She continually reassures me and encourages me, telling me how happy she feels that I have already begun to find hopefulness where before there was despair. This is a person who has been coming to this particular therapeutic yoga class for seven years, a chronic daily migraineur. Guess when her last migraine attack was? Over six years ago. Can you imagine that? I'm beginning to allow myself to imagine that. I'm not planning on it, mind you, but I am allowing myself to believe at last that this is possible, that after all this searching and medication and vitamins and doctor's visits there could be something that has a drastically wonderful effect on my life.

It's not easy to change everything at once. This evening my friend told me how she was about to order a greasy, delightfully cheesy Papa John's pizza. As soon as I was alone again, I thought about that pizza. Thought about dipping it in those notoriously fatty cups of garlic sauce and how wonderful it tastes.

And then I got home and heated up rice, broccoli, and onions for dinner. I feel satiated and healthy. No cheese-induced tummyache for me. But man--I do love pizza.

People, I want you to allow yourselves to be hopeful. I want you to imagine that it will be possible to live your lives without fear of a migraine coming on at the slightest provocation. For too long I have treated myself too gingerly--much of that was necessary and safe, I know, but it kept me from living my life well. KEEPS me from living my life well. (There goes Guru Jan again, acting as if she's got it all figure out, when really I'm play-acting here and there, only partly able to fully believe how healthy I am becoming.) It's so hard for me to imagine that any of these changes I've made could NOT help most of you. This from the girl who gets really frustrated when people, out of the goodness of their hearts, push so-called miracle drugs onto her--if Topamax works for so many, it MUST work for you, Janet! You're probably just not taking it right!

I fear becoming the person who pushes her ways onto you. At the same time, I can't resist trying to engage some of you in this discussion, to encourage some of you to incorporate healthier habits in an attempt to curb the number and severity of your attacks. Please let me know if I'm annoying you. Please let me know if you are interested in talking more. Please let me know if I should abandon this blog all together before driving you all crazy!! :)

4 comments:

Mary Carol said...

It sounds quite appealing. My friend Candace (massage therapist you've met) teaches yoga, but I've been hesitant to even question her about it, particularly because I am not flexible. I am now thinking more about it. thanks. I am so glad it's helping you. (where did you take this picture?)

themigrainegirl said...

MC: The photo is from the islands in Toronto, 2006. You might remember this trip.

I was thinking about you during my yoga class on Tuesday morning. If you were able to find an excellent teacher whose class was a good match for you (as I did), I think you'd like it. Much of what we do is sitting in a chair or standing--people who are unable to get onto the floor (even with the help of a yoga mat) are not required to. Any time we feel physically or mentally uncomfortable the teacher complies. Since we have similar joint/body issues, I think it'd help you too. We can talk about tihs later. :)

Andy said...

Good for YOU. Having the strength to exercise and deny the pizza cravings.

Keep it up, and you will see a difference.

Michelle said...

Hi there,

I have just stumbled across your blog while doing some research on my headaches and wanted to let you know how great I think it is that you are doing this.

I am 39 now and have had chronic migraine with aura since the age of 4. Back then, it took years for me to get a diagnosis and for people to understand. I think you are doing a great job making the debilitating experience real for people.

As for hope, I am online looking at headaches, because I recently had my first migraine in two years. This from someone who had @ 3 a week when I was younger.

For me, stress is my #1 trigger so my body forces me to live consciously as you already do.

I immediately understand so much of what you post about - vision issues with change of environment, fear of when migraine might strike. But we still have to live our lives don't we?

I wish you all the best and keep up the good work. It would have helped me alot to have had this type of forum years ago.

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