A Yoga Convert: Mindfulness For Migraine
I used to be one of those folks who scoffed at the idea of trying yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness exercises when it came to relieving symptoms of migraine. Sit still and think about nothing? Uh...sounds like a sure-fire way to push the excruciating pain shooting through my temples right to the forefront of my mind - no thanks! I was a true skeptic. That is...up until recently. That all changed when I gave it an earnest go and began to think about mindfulness a little differently.
Why start practicing mindfulness now?
I began doing yoga at home recently as a way to step away from the many stressors in my life, including work, relationships, and health issues. After experiencing painful changes in my stability, I felt I needed to escape and find some peace. Dealing with migraine along with depression left me feeling lost, alone, and afraid. I knew I had to begin to look for ideas regarding ways to re-balance my outlook and energy, because I was starting to sink deep.
Trying yoga for migraine
After finding out that I did indeed want to try yoga out, getting started was easy. I knew I wanted to start at home because I didn’t want to possibly be dealing with awful migraine symptoms, as well as triggers that come with sharing exercise space with others (like perfumes to cover up sweat, for instance) at a studio. I knew if I set up in my living room, I could quickly get in bed if I needed, and had control over the temperature. At-home yoga was also the way to begin because exercise can sometimes trigger an attack for me.
Why did I choose yoga?
One of the appealing aspects of yoga to me ended up being its accessibility. I am not very flexible, and I hurt all over all the time it seems. I found that there are a ton of beginner yoga instruction videos on YouTube for all kinds of people - from desk yoga to targeted yoga for specific aches, the options for trying it out seemed pretty large. Plus, it was almost free. I picked up a yoga mat for about ten dollars and turned on my television and was able to get started.
A distraction from the attack
The first video I clicked on was a twenty-minute video for lower back pain. By the end of the first video, I was surprised at how well I was able to move through the movements and wanted to do more. I was also surprised at the fact that I got lost in it! I didn’t think about migraine the entire time I was practicing, at least not in the way I usually do. Sure, the pain was there, but I was intentionally focused on learning this new exercise, breathing, and understanding where my body felt tension beyond migraine. It was a distraction and it felt good in a lot of ways.
Yoga has given me perspective
Before I began to delve into yoga, my thoughts around relief and migraine were pretty much: If I still feel the pain, it doesn’t work. Having very briefly delved into yoga, I feel like my thinking has changed. No, yoga has not cured me of my daily pain, but it has given me perspective and helped me to cope with a little mental adjustment.
Changing the way I think about relief
The videos I have followed have prompted me to think about specific parts of my body, and have helped me to focus on naming my feelings as they relate to pain and release. In a lot of ways, yoga has prompted me to let go of some of the characterizations I held about migraine relief. Yoga has certainly relieved me of some pain, even if my head still hurts throughout and after. It has allowed me to take moments as individual breaths, it has helped me reorganize and simplify my thoughts. Most of all, it has helped me develop a thankfulness for what I have, for each of the moments I have even when they are pain-filled during a time when everything began to feel dark.
Do you practice yoga, meditation, or other mindfulness activities for migraine? Let’s discuss in the comments!
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