Coping, Treatment

Yoga Isn’t Optional

It was 5:30 Saturday morning and I couldn’t sleep. Knowing I wouldn’t wake up early enough to go to the farmers’ market before yoga, I debated which one to go to. Images of the apple hatch chile cobbler I would make from my market spoils evaporated as I recognized that yoga is not optional. It was an astonishing revelation. The surprise wasn’t in the realization itself, but from the fact that it had never occurred to me before.

I usually feel better after yoga than I do after acupuncture, physical therapy or visits with my doctor, yet yoga doesn’t have the same priority as medical appointments, which are practically sacred. I schedule appointments for the time of day I’ve been feeling best, arrange back-up transportation in case I’m not up for driving, and only cancel if I am absolutely certain I will be miserable if I go. I’d never skip an acupuncture appointment to go to a baseball game, but I have chosen baseball over yoga before. Psychologically, I treated yoga as a fun (and thus optional) activity, not a health necessity.

Getting to class regularly was as simple as shifting yoga into the mental category of mandatory medical activity. I initially worried that medicalizing something I love would hinder my enjoyment of it, then the simple beauty emerged: Migraine allows me to spend 90 minutes a day in one of my favorite activities. If I were healthy, I’d be rushing to maximize 30-minute workouts, thinking that an hour and a half of yoga each day was a wasteful indulgence.