Taking Up Yoga

While the EMDR I recently started seems to be working, the sensations in my head and neck feel physical rather than just emotional; so I want to get more physical about it.

When I first came down with CFS in 2008, I had been going to the local gym and doing strenuous workouts (well, strenuous to me, given that I was a relatively new gym-goer) three times per week. I knew something was wrong when the cold-that-just-wouldn’t-go-away hit and I passed out during a personal training session. I went downhill fast, quit my gym membership and tried a casual Yoga class at the studio next door to the gym instead. I couldn’t make it though the yoga class either. That’s when I really knew I was really screwed.

Since that unpleasant experience, I’ve only done Yoga only occasionally. I’ve been resisting committing to it partly because of that bad experience, partly because I don’t really want to do the work, partly because it’ll cost money, and partly because I’m really inflexible and find yoga uncomfortable.

The fact that I’m really inflexible is an excellent reason to do Yoga though, not to avoid it.

I’m told that to recover from CFS you really need to listen to what your body is telling you, and an inflexible body is crying out for some stretching activity. Combine that with the mindfulness meditation aspects of Yoga, and it seems like the ideal solution to rewiring my autonomic nervous system. I’m confident I can make it through a 1 hour Yoga class if I substitute some Child Pose’s or just lie on my back when I’m really feeling beat.

I also get that for Yoga to work, you have to practise regularly. That’s why Yoga devotees call it Yoga practise. Given that commitments and routine are calming to our nervous systems, it makes sense to make regular Yoga a part of my life now.

One of my close friends is a Yoga teacher at a local yoga studio, and has been encouraging me to join up for a long time. So I joined up last week.

I made it through the first 3 days doing classes of up to an hour and a half each day reasonably well, and then found the fourth day very challenging. That light-headed feeling from the gym was back again. So I decided to back off. Given that my Yoga teacher friend only recommends 3 or 4 classes a week for beginners anyway, starting with 4 consecutive daily classes is just that old push-and-crash mentality again.

I can see that rest days in between are really important. From now on, I’m committed to doing one Yoga class every second day for the next 30 days (when my trial membership expires), and if it leaves me feeling good, I’ll most likely continue after that. I should be looking like the guy in the picture in no time.

I’ve only had one debilitating headache since starting the Yoga classes, and I have noticed some strong emotions arising during classes or in the hours afterwards. I guess those holistic health people are right that emotions get stuck in our nervous system, and you’ve got to move in order to release them. That and the spiritual teachers who say there are multiple layers of the emotional onion.

It’s early days yet, but so far the results are promising. I’ve still got a few more sessions of EMDR to go to, which I plan to use to process any intense feelings that arise from the Yoga. I’m cautiously optimistic that this combination will finally put the headaches/migraines that I’ve suffered my whole life to rest. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Author: Graham

I'm a guy in his late 40's, recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since May 2009. I now offer coaching and support to other people with CFS/ME.

4 thoughts on “Taking Up Yoga”

  1. Hi,
    I’m a mum of three wonderful chidren. I suffer CFS. ..I’ve been doing the Gupta Programme for 3,5 months now. At the Moment I’m Feeling worse than before. I’m so desperated. Has anybody experience? I fell like the biggest loser in the CFS-world. In all the success Videos you can see fully recovered People who were able to do this within a few months. Even if they were bedridden.
    Things like the Gupta-Programme are my last or only chance in my opinion.
    Do you think I’m too strict again? That it is again my old pattern to ‘punish’ myself for not being successfull with the recovery. I even had some phonecalls with one of the Coaches. She told me that I just shouldn’t believe in all my fears and anxiety. (I’m absolutely full of it)
    She also meant that I miss some basic ability to do the retraining…..that I’m addicted to fearful thoughts etc. Afterwards I felt even worse. For me it means that I’m a hopeless case. I just want to get your opinion:
    Is it usual that after some months of doing some retraining, everything gets worse ….and that for weeks not just for days??
    Please give me answers.
    This Website is good!!
    Greetings from tiny Austria!!
    Barbara

    1. Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for your question. It sounds like you’re feeling really frustrated and anxious. Although there’s a lot of wisdom in The Gupta Programme, there isn’t much in there on dealing with anxiety or anger aside from the meditation and the horrendously boring stop-stop-stop. If you’ve got some deeply repressed emotions driving your anxiety, I think you need to find an empathic person to help you express and release that. The coach you spoke to may have been right, but if she didn’t show you the empathy that you need to feel safe when you’re feeling fearful and anxious, then you didn’t get what your brain needs to really heal it. No wonder you felt worse afterwards. If your old pattern is to punish yourself, there’s probably an emotion attached to the person you learned that from. I’m also curious how you feel about expressing anger, and whether the anxiety you feel might actually be internalised anger towards that person?

      I’d be happy to chat with you 1-on-1 via Skype to see if I might be more help than the first coach you spoke to. Don’t give up!

      Cheers,
      Graham

  2. Yes, I am considering rejoining Pilates. I am naturally flexible but this has been a downside for me because the last time I went I felt fine doing a back stretch but was in agony a day later. I also managed to hurt my knee which required physiotherapy to put right, so I stopped going. But now I’m not doing anything. What I need is to go to the class and stop as soon as I begin to feel tired. That’s the really hard part – stopping :-/

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