Sometimes the Challenge Picks You

Some days we decide how to challenge ourselves (in yoga and in life), and other times the challenge finds us. Sometimes we can choose to engage with the challenge, and sometimes we are forced to engage with it.

In class last Tuesday, I had a challenge choose me and force me to engage with it. Lucky, lucky me. I got to take Tuesday’s class with a migraine.

I went to the 4:30 class on Tuesday. By the time I got there I was a good 2 hours into the migraine. I didn’t realize it though because: (a) I only get a migraine about once a year so I am not great about picking up on the symptoms and (b) it takes awhile for my migraines to launch into all they are able to do and bring me down.

When I got a headache, I first thought it was a caffeine headache. I had not had a coke all day. So, about an hour before class, I drank one and ate some chocolate. It didn’t help.

When I arrived the pain was still pretty minor. I didn’t tell the instructor about it as I thought it was simply a caffeine headache that was sure to go away at any moment. Class started and about 10 minutes in the pain was gone. Yeah! But then we hit the part in the floor series – the last three or so postures – where you have to hang you head upside down. Oh no. Bad. Very, very bad. My headache is back and worse than before. Everytime I raise my head back up it pounds, and pounds, and pounds.

I know what this is. This must be a sinus headache. If it were a migraine there is no way I could be doing postures, or even laying on my mat, with all these lights on. The instructor came by to check on me. I told her I was sure it was a sinus headache. I would do what I could for the rest of class.

Now, later on, when I got home, I learned I did in fact have a migraine. About two hours after I left the hot room it went way downhill in terms of the pain.

Anyways, back to my point. I went to a class, unknowingly, at the start of a migraine. It got better, but then it got worse. I could still function although I did sit out some postures that were making my head throb. I’m not suggesting you go to a class with the kind of migraine that has you crying (literally) because the lights are on. I couldn’t have been in the room had that been the case.

My challenge was to stay in the room, breathe through my discomfort, and do what I could to the best of my ability. I didn’t always know what I could do so I had to try things out and see how they went. I did not have a choice about my challenge. It picked me. The pain was there. I had to engage with it. I just got to decide how I was going to engage with it.

Th other interesting thing about this is the effect Bikram Yoga seems to have on migraines. I went to class about a year ago at the very, very start of a mirgraine. I didn’t have the head pain yet, but I felt off. If you get migraines you might know what I mean. It’s very hard to describe. I decided to go anyways, set up in the back, and had a good class. When I left I was 100% fine.

Now, this last time I was not 100% fine after class. However, I was much farther along the migraine continuum when I arrived to class by several hours. But consider these things: (a) I was always able to function in lit rooms just fine for the entire evening, (b) I had dinner and did not throw-up (yes, that can happen with migraines. they are just lovely little events), and (c) I watched 30 minutes of tv and read a book on my IPAD before bed. I did all of this with some very annoying head pain. However, these are all things that I could not do under normal migraine circumstances. Under normal migraine circumstances, I must go into a dark room and lay there. If I am lucky I will sleep. If not, I am bored and laying there.

Bikram Yoga helps my migraines. I don’t know what about it is helpful, but something is. I would never, never imagine that I would do yoga with a migraine, but I did AND I drove myself home afterwards just fine. So sometimes, when these challenges pick us, I think that if we engage with them and take them head on we’ll end up with benefits we didn’t even imagine.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. LeighAHall (@LeighAHall)
    Dec 06, 2014 @ 10:30:19

    Sometimes the Challenge Picks You #bikramyoga #yogaholicsmag


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