A Rollercoaster of a relationship
I do yoga pretty much every day. I’m mostly a home practice kind of a girl, rolling out my yoga mat on the living room floor each afternoon when I need a reprieve from the business of the day and need relief from the tightness that comes from being on your computer for hours. I'm lucky that I work from home, so I get to fit this yoga break into my routine each day. Sometimes I just lead myself, and other times I put on one of my favorite yoga videos (shoutout to Gaia.com, my lifeline when it came to building my personal yoga practice). It’s a simple thing, my yoga practice. I lean on it when I need to, and look forward to the routine of it each day. It’s simple, enjoyable, and pretty lovely.
But things weren’t always this way with yoga and I. In fact, we’ve had quite the rollercoaster of a relationship together. When I first started to get migraines (you can read the whole story about that here), I tried everything under the sun to help them. One of the obvious choices – pointed to by medical professionals, research on migraines, and tons of acquaintances – was yoga. The argument that yoga could help my migraines was convincing enough. It would help to relieve stress, ease muscle tension, get me exercising… all things that should ease headaches.
And so I tried. During my leave of absence from college, while living at home, I went to yoga classes at the local YMCA routinely. The instructor we had there was amazing. She created a comfortable and inspiring space for everyone to practice, had a contagious good energy, and even played great music. And while I loved her, and the idea of going to class, there was one small issue: I didn’t really like the yoga part.
It just didn’t seem to vibe with me. All the hanging out upside down caused blood to continually rush to my head, which felt bad. I didn’t feel relaxed. It felt as if the yoga was doing more harm than good when it came to my headaches.
I tried to push through this, because yoga was supposed to be good for me. I felt that I should like it and should want to do it. But as time went on, it just wasn’t winning me over.
So I stopped. I decided that it just wasn’t right for me. Yoga and I went our separate ways. Whenever it came up in conversation with someone suggesting I try it, I simply responded: “I don’t really like yoga.”
I'm glad I listened to my body then, and tried other approaches. Sometimes, it's not a good idea to force something that doesn't feel right. But I'm even more glad that I gave yoga a second chance.
I started doing yoga again this past winter. To tell you the truth, I’m not quite sure what drew me back to it. I know that part of this is owed to my Master’s program in health and wellness coaching. Through this program, I was forced to really reexamine the life I had built for myself, and was inspired to make some personal changes. I knew that I needed more mindfulness in my life, and that I wanted to include more meditative movement in my life. I experimented with qigong, which didn’t quite feel right. I like Tai Chi, but I wanted something a little more physically demanding to include in my routine. Something that could strengthen and challenge me physically as well as mentally. And there was yoga, standing in front of me asking: “Should we try this thing again, and see where it takes us?”
Before long, I was hooked. No one was more surprised than me. Who knows what was so different this time compared to last time. But I liked it. It made me feel good. And most importantly of all for me, it seemed to actually make a big difference with my headaches.
I soon learned that if I did yoga at the first sign of a headache, it could sometimes stop the headache from happening. For those of you who don’t know my headache history, then let me tell you: this is a really big deal. Like, the revolutionary, life-changing kind of big deal that only happens a few times in your life. Nothing, in over ten years, besides injectable medications, has stopped my migraines once I feel one coming on. Nothing, until I reacquainted myself with yoga.
Needless to say, I quickly fell head over heels in love with yoga. It felt like it had saved me. It had given me hope and something to feel comfort in.
Now that I’ve experimented a bunch over the past few months, yoga and I have settled into a comfortable, easy routine. I know that it won’t always save me from a headache, but I also know that it is a powerful personal tool for me. I know that if I’m experiencing this certain feeling of tension in the back of my neck, I better get on my mat and do some sun salutation flows right away. I bring a mat with me on any weekend away, because yoga has become that ingrained in my life and that important to me.
I wanted to share this story because we can’t always predict when and where and how certain lifestyle practices will suit us. Years ago, yoga wasn’t right for my body, for whatever reason. I’m glad I listened to my body and didn’t try to force yoga on it when it wasn’t right. I never would have guessed then that today, yoga would be an integral part of each and every day – and more than that, it would be an integral part of my life.
So whether it’s yoga, or a certain way of eating, or running, or a certain meditation practice: listen to what you and your body need. If it’s not feeling right, it probably isn’t right. But don’t be afraid to try again down the road. We are each unique, and what we need is unique. But we are also always changing, so what we need is always changing. Be open and inviting to whatever it is your body needs now.
Who knows, you could be like me and fall head over heels for something you thought you’d written off years ago. If you don't give it a second chance, you'll never know.