A week and half ago, I went to a yoga class led by instructor I had never worked with.  I couldn’t attend my regular class, so I was super psyched to get into the studio at all that week.   I guess I was distracted by following the instructor and moving through unfamiliar sequences, and before I knew it, my training kicked in and I automatically went deep into downward facing dog.  I think I even glanced back at my feet for some reason, taking my head past vertical.  Yikes!  That triggered the vertigo, no surprise.  I paused with all fours on the mat until the spinning stopped, then I stoically arranged a folded blanket on the mat so I could self-treat.  I had warned the instructor that I would be modifying poses due to vertigo but never imagined I would trigger it during class.  I did an Epley’s right there on my mat, but whether due to self-consciousness or the position of the blanket or whatever, I didn’t get the third position right and the maneuver wasn’t terribly effective.  I continued with class, but I had vertigo with every movement.  I was beyond modifying at this point; I was barely getting into poses at all.

As I stumbled along, I fought tears.  Part of my brain was crying, “I can’t do yoga at all, ever again!”  I was sad, I was mad.  Then another part of my brain would say, “It’s only because you went too far.  The last class you did was fine, and you will have classes like that again.”  And I relaxed.

Then tears again: “This is my last yoga class.  I’ll never take another!  I can’t believe I have to say goodbye to this!”  Then calm: “If this is my last yoga class ever, then I had better be present.  Let me notice how my body is moving.  Let me enjoy what I am able to do.”  I reminded myself that the nauseous, crappy way I was feeling wouldn’t last forever.

Back and forth, back and forth.  It was an emotionally draining class.  I couldn’t drive afterward, so a yoga buddy drove me home.  I made cheerful conversation in the car, but as soon as I got in the house I cried for a few minutes.  When my wife came home later (she had to get our car from the yoga parking lot), I cried again.  I told her I thought yoga was off the table.  She surprised me by insisting that I continue with yoga.  I’ve explained a bit about my Yoga Journey in a previous post but perhaps haven’t adequately explained how crucial yoga has become for maintaining my physical and emotional fitness.

You need yoga, she said.  It gives you such joy and brings such balance to your life.  It makes you stronger and means so much to you.  Just modify the poses, she said.  You did fine last week; keep doing that.  

Sometimes I think it is crazy to be continuing to practice yoga even with vertigo.  But it’s true that I can get through a class just fine if I modify.  I think having an unfamiliar instructor threw me off this time, and I’m willing to believe for now that if I go to my regular class, i can maintain my practice.  Namaste!

You might enjoy Yoga – head version.