Gravity's Rainbow

botany, shoes, books, and justice

Redirect – Yoga edition

| 9 Comments

After almost a month of breaking my morning yoga routine because of migraines and busyness, I pretended that all my looming deadlines didn’t exist this morning and got back into it.  I sounded like a bowl of rice crispies with a megaphone, but it was lovely.  Despite the time I “lost” doing yoga this morning, I was more energetic and productive afterwords than I have been in about a month – the amount of time I’ve been skipping.  So, unless I have a migraine and absolutely cannot, I am going to practice every single morning.

Yoga also helps with a pretty serious side effect of the incredible amount of time I spend with a migraine – a feeling of dissociation from and betrayal by my own body.

I started doing yoga regularly after meeting Karen of donutszenmom.  Her daughter is one of my favorite people in the whole world, and Karen might be the best parent I’ve ever met.  One of the things that I think makes her a great mom is that she is so much more than a mom.  I think a lot of mothers forget that, or surpress other parts of themselves.  She also has a delightfully wicked sense of humor.  I recently liked this post on doing things that are hard and this post on a visit to the eye doctor.

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9 Comments

  1. S! Such kind words — thank you.

    Yoga practice is a terrific idea. It helps with the dissociation & feeling of betrayal — and after a while, it can really help sort out the relationship between the physical and the spiritual (which seems like perhaps a particularly interesting area of exploration for a scientist).

    I wonder if you are familiar with Auurveda? I’ve had some good results with self-healing using it. A’s been lupusy lately, so she is going to have a consultation with a local practitioner this week. Hopefully, it will help her.

    • I know a bit about Ayurveda, but have never tried any Ayurvedic diets or healing. I poked around on pubmeb, but there seems to be essentially no research on it! The only study I found that that looked specifically at migraine had no control for either the specific Ayurvedic treatments they used or the general healthy lifestyle changes people made (like sleeping enough), which makes it essentially useless.

      Diet most certainly does influence my migraines and I have found certain things that help. For example, eating really salty things means I get less woozy and am more likely to stay hydrated during a long migraine. Ginger helps with mild nausea. I’ve had exceptional success with this low tyramine diet. There a good mechanistic link between tyramine and migraines, too.

      I’d be interested in learning what ayurvedic medicine recommends for migraines and how that compares to the low tyramine food list and some of the things I’ve found to help. I didn’t have much luck searching google – mostly I found a bunch of sites that claimed miracle cures from ayervedic medicine if you’d just spend an unreasonable amount of money on their special ayervedic tea/pill/diet book.

    • As for the spiritual aspect of yoga –

      One of the reasons I avoided yoga for so long was the spiritual/religious aspect. I find the language in many yoga books and classes at best silly and at worst annoying and distracting. I do not believe in a god or the divine or things not governed by universal laws of physics. I do believe that what people describe as spirituality, seeking a “contemplative experience,” does not need to be tied to ideas of the divine and is a natural and good part of being human.

      Surprising or unbelievable to people who see their spiritual experiences as proof of the divine, I find that an overwhelming sense of contentment, wonder, and a being part of a larger whole has been tied to my work or the environment.

      As an example: Measuring tree rings is a repetitive and somewhat tedious process that requires incredible attention to detail. I often find myself in a peculiar state of mind while measuring tree rings where the rest of the world disappears as my focus narrows. But a part of my mind I am not quite aware of is still busily working along and I’m often wonderfully jolted out of that state by a solution to a problem or deeper insight into a particular concept. For me, that is a deeply “spiritual” experience and I value it.

      Occasionally, I’ve found myself in that peculiar state of mind when I used to run and now sometimes while doing yoga.

      But it makes me uncomfortable when those experiences are tied to a concept of the divine since religious ideas are so often used in such dangerous ways.

  2. Sending you an email. I can’t speak to the research, but there’s an amusing catch-22 in trying to sort results out via individual variables (herbs, dietary adjustments, rest, stress-relieving exercise, etc.) because from an ayurvedic perspective, the results are gained via the interaction of the variables. I suspect that sounds sketchy to a Western scientist?

    Nevertheless, one thing it does point out is that you can’t really prescribe blanket cures with ayurveda: no one herb for everyone, no specific dietary adjustment, etc. The premise is that each individual constitution has to be assessed in relation to the current dis-ease state. So two people with migraines might have different healing regimens.

    (Disclaimer: All of this is filtered through my very unsophisticated understanding of these practices!)

    All I wanted to point out, is that there may be something to this, and that the sales-y stuff you see on the web is NOT representative of the practice. Anyhow, be on the look out for an email…

    • I think you’re right about the interaction, or additive effects, of variables being important.

      I think of migraine triggers (lack of sleep, eating something I shouldn’t, a barometric pressure change) as different sized rocks being added to my little rowboat. When it sinks, I get a migraine.

      What I wanted to see in the study I linked to was a group that made no changes, a group that made general lifestyle changes, a group that was treated with Ayurvedic medicine, and a group that made general lifestyle changes AND was treated with Ayurvedic medicine, then a comparison of all the groups. That would help us understand if Ayurvedic approaches help by themselves or only in conjunction with lifestyle changes or if it is only the lifestyle change matters.

      • The study design I outlined above still doesn’t get at whether or not any effect of Ayurvedic medicine is placebo or not, but I think that would be very hard to account for since so much of it is tied to diet.

  3. Re: religion. I’m an atheist. But also a poet. So I don’t mind the metaphors people use in yoga classes. (Well, that said, I’m more open to metaphors from Eastern religions. If I went to one of those “Christian” yoga classes, I think I’d probably ge berserk.)

    • It is easier for me when I think of the language as metaphorical, but it does still bother me because I know some people certainly don’t think of it as metaphorical. Perhaps I should just learn to mind my own business while doing yoga!

  4. Pingback: Gravity’s Rainbow » Blog Archive » Doing something about migraines

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