Patient Blogs | Migraine
How I Use Yoga for Migraine Episodes
photo of woman holding yoga pose on mat

I was raised in a very traditional Christian background where yoga was often considered to blend over into beliefs not aligned with my own. I didn’t know much about it other than it seemed mystic and like a bunch of serious people sitting on mats. I was more of a hip-hop and belly dance kind of workout girl.

I went to my very first yoga class as an adult when a friend from my magazine job invited me to join her. I didn’t even have a yoga mat or cute yoga pants, so I already felt behind. I gave it a try and did not love it. I repeat. I did not love it. I think I had some hang-ups that kept me from giving it a sincere try.

I had a few yoga barriers to overcome.

Before I could truly give yoga a try, I had some hurdles to conquer. I’ve been told I have a vivid imagination, so once I have my mind set on a thing it takes a lot to change it.

  • Barrier 1: Yoga is only for hippies or “new-age types.” I’ve seen folks from all backgrounds and walks of life in my yoga classes -- from large construction workers to people over the age of 80. I was shocked when I started attending various classes around my city at the diversity of the students. At the time, I didn’t know a lot of Black people who did yoga either. Today, that has changed as well. I have seen an increase in programs that expose various cultures to yoga and its benefits.
  • Barrier 2:Yoga is for skinny people. Based on my understanding, some forms of yoga can help with weight loss, but you don’t need to be super skinny to do it. I am not super skinny (anymore) and I’ve seen people who some would consider overweight do amazingly well with the various poses. I thought I might be too curvy for some of the svelte poses I saw on TV. I surprised myself when I gave it a try.
  • Barrier 3: Yoga is a religion. Yoga is practiced by many in the Hindu faith and has its origins in India. My understanding is that some people use it as a form of worship in some religions. However, in my classes at the local super gym, I haven’t experienced anything that has been contrary to my faith. I incorporate yoga for the poses, the calming moments, and the breath work.
  • Barrier 4: Yoga is hard. Well … it can be. I used to look at people doing yoga poses on TV and thought, “Surely, I will fall over with a loud thud!” I was pleased to learn that the instructors (and some students) are often very happy to help you. Did I ever stumble a bit on some poses? Sure, I did, but I got back up.
  • Barrier 5: Yoga is boring. The more I’ve done yoga, the more I’d replace “boring” with “calming.” I’m so grateful for how yoga has taught me how to improve my breathing and posture and how simple movements can release stress in my body. I’ve come to appreciate the art of slowing down, which yoga has helped me with each time.

Yoga Has Been My Medicine

Once I got over these barriers, I was able to benefit from using yoga to help ease my migraine symptoms. I’ll do a few minutes of calm yoga in the morning if I wake up with the early signs of a migraine. I look forward to evenings when I can do some yoga to calm my mind after a stressful day.

At times it has lessened my symptoms, and at other times it has helped my migraine completely go away. So far, it has never made it worse -- only better or gone altogether.

I was overjoyed when I began seeing yoga sessions tailored to people with migraine. I took some time to learn about the connection between stress and migraine, and how much of yoga is about focusing on breathing and being calm. There are also certain muscles in the neck and shoulders that can trigger migraines, so having those relaxed seemed to also help me.

I can’t always get to a spa for a relaxation day, but I can pop on a YouTube video and do yoga anytime. I do love how accessible it is. At this point in my life, I know enough yoga poses to be able to do them without being in a class. I can be in my car, traveling, or standing in the kitchen cooking. I’m grateful for the option to “yoga it up” anytime.

As I get a little older and I have normal aches and pains and endure the stressors of life, I want to practice more yoga, not less. I now have a mat. I have yoga pants, and when it comes to the practice, I’m glad we found each other.

Tap into a community of fellow migraineurs on Facebook. Learn, share, connect in our Migraine Support Community.

 

 

Photo Credit: PeopleImages / iStock via Getty Images Plus

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Michele Jordan

Michele Jordan

Diagnosed since 1992

Michele Jordan, a Los Angeles-based freelance writer, was diagnosed with migraine in 1992. Her writing background includes magazine and online journalism, grant writing, and now screenwriting. She is passionate about both physical and mental health and is the author of the book, Thanking Your Way to Joy: Daily Gratitude Journal. When not writing, Michele enjoys traveling with her husband, trying new, healthy recipes, and cuddling beagles. Her latest passion includes exploring and discussing issues around equity in housing, health care, and the justice system.

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