Bikram Yoga for Migraines

With 30 consecutive days of Bikram Yoga under her belt, Nancy, 48, the founder of a real estate publishing company who has suffered from migraine headaches for most of her life, is happy to report that, as long as she continues to practice, her pain has disappeared (with extra benefits, to boot)!

Tell us about your very first Bikram Yoga class …

My very first and last class for over a decade was at BYV’s West End studio back in the ’90s. My friend dragged me to it, and it was a horrifying experience for me. I felt so dizzy and nauseous that I spent most of the standing series lying on my yoga mat. I remember watching my pal do Balancing Stick and thinking she’d lost her mind. That class pretty much convinced me that Bikram Yoga just wasn’t for me, and I didn’t return until more than 10 years later, when my friend, who happens to be a herbalist, recommended the yoga for several issues I was experiencing, including a herniated disc and several injuries sustained at the gym. Feeling healthier and stronger the second time around, I re-entered the hot room with the intention not to lie down on my mat, no matter what. I kept that promise and returned to class the next day.

How often do you practise Bikram Yoga these days?

Having just completed a 30-Day Challenge I intend to do class between five and six days a week for the next month. I’m moving to a small community in June where the Bikram Yoga studio has fewer class options, so now is my chance to get really deep into my practice.

Have you experienced any significant challenges since starting your regular practice?

Bikram Yoga for MigrainesI’ve been suffering from terrible headaches for the last 30 years, and only realized last year that these were, in fact, migraines. When I started vomiting from the pain about a year ago, I decided to do some research and, to my surprise, was able to check off almost every classic symptom of a migraine except for sensitivity to light (which is why I did not think realize what they really were all those years). When I returned to Bikram Yoga, every class would trigger a migraine, despite coming to class prepared and well hydrated. I noticed that the postures that involved twisting the neck (including those belly-down Savasanas during the Spine-Strengthening Series) or letting the head fall back or compress forward (like Pranayama Breathing, Triangle Pose, Camel Pose, Rabbit Pose and Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose) were the ones I most dreaded. Most people would be alarmed – and I wouldn’t blame them – but somehow I believed it to be a healing crisis. I decided to keep at it and, after just four or five classes, the migraines stopped. However, if I stopped practising for a few weeks or a couple of months, they would return. I have learned that the migraines will stay away as long as I keep up the yoga – and I’m happy to report that I now embrace all those postures that I used to dread! I have seen such tremendous benefits so far, and I don’t want to lose the foundation that I have created. I want to continue building on it and I can’t wait to see the hidden benefits waiting to surface.

What other benefits have you noticed?

Old gym injuries do not hurt anymore, my body is toning up and clothes are fitting differently. Two of the biggest improvements are sleep and kidney/bladder function. I have had chronic insomnia most of my life and am now sleeping eight to 10 hours some nights, and/or waking up to an alarm clock (that is a first!). Vivid dreams also appear each night, which is another first. Beverages do not pass through me within 30 minutes anymore. A weak bladder has been a problem for decades – and has been getting worse with age. The improved bladder/kidney function only became apparent in the fourth week of my 30-Day Challenge. This change alone has motivated me to keep practising Bikram Yoga six days a week for another month as an experiment of further potential healing. I am forever grateful to my friend Beth for sharing with me this incredible yoga and all its amazing healing benefits inside and out.

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