Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Yoga Isn't For Throwing Up

Yoga-Geek out moment!
(unrelated to yoga, but Atreyu is the cutest musical kitten!)

I have realized that I must have a bunch of weird "yoga-quirks". You ever have that moment while listening (or reading) to other people's ease with how their bodies have taken to something within a year that you have worked hard at for the past seven years and are far from achieving?

I love yoga, don't get  me wrong, I just wish it were easier. Or at least, more natural.

Maybe those other yogis are faking it... it's possible you know.

But then, I've always known that my body was stiff, not very strong and completely "un" flexible. Plus my mind is filled with cynical, anxiety ridden triggers. So all in all I'm not really the "natural" yogini type.

For example, beyond my painful savasana, I also feel extremely nauseous in certain postures. This ever happen to anyone else?

I originally thought, years ago, that this had to do with a "when I get stronger, more flexible, the urge to vomit will go away" type thing. Except it hasn't.

Postures that encourage the tight-vomit feeling include: chair, upward dog, baby cobra and intense side stretch (there are others, although I always forget until I'm in the posture- surprise!). None of these are particularly difficult for me now but they are particularly unpleasant. I'm wondering about whether it has to do with the upper thoracic opening thing... but I have no difficulty with fish, camel or clasping my hands behind my back.

So... I have learned that during my own practice, if I'm feeling extra vomit-y that day I back off on the barftastic postures. Yoga isn't for throwing up people.

The moral of this story? Each person is emotionally and physically different. So, then, should be their yoga practice :) If you have weird yoga moments and wonder- know that you and your yoga uniqueness are not alone! Maybe there's an atypical modification out there waiting inside some open yoga teacher, or maybe your body is happiest without certain yoga asana... and that is perfectly fine.

article and photograph copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. I also occasionally feel nauseous during class, especially in downward dog and when doing twists. Teachers have told me the queasiness has to do with toxins being released, but I'm not sure the validity of that.

    Love all your posts!

  2. You're not alone! I feel vomit-y in standing forward folds sometimes. I think its related to allergies.

  3. I found that as soon as I was able to sync my breath with my asana practice then everything all came together and my practice has flourished since. In the beginning I tried to force every pose. I would "try to hard". Then I just let go. I know, sounds new agey but it works!

  4. @Kirbymarzelle: hmmm- being upside down, if you had balance issues (like maybe an infection in your semi circular canals) would cause nausea for sure. But then, I think that there are just some poses that make us uncomfortable.

    @Unknown: ahhh that's an interesting idea!

    @Sara Jane: yep, definitely learned early on that keeping my ujai breathing was essential. Unfortunately, even with a steady breath I still feel like throwing up. :/
    Thanks for visiting!! :)

  5. Camel gets me everytime. I'm hardly up on my knees and I start to see stars and feel like I'm going to pass out. Needless to say, I don't push myself thru it because I don't want to be "that girl" that passes out in class.


  6. The only time I've felt slightly barfy is in a hot room if I'm getting too warm. But I have occasionally started crying in some poses. Not sure what that's about :S lol

  7. @Wendy (Pigeon Pose): I always always always keep my head up in camel. Mostly because as a Speech Therapist it was drilled in degree how dangerous letting the head fall back can be for your neck and spine. Passing out during class would also be awkward lol. :)

    @Christine: oh yeah- i have totally had a panic attack-crying episodes in class before too... mostly in those heated classes i tried to push myself to like (or 'appreciate' lol).

  8. barftastic! love it!

    depends on the day for me. that is what is so interesting. great way of your body telling you what is right for you!

  9. I often wish it were easier...but then I go to a class where everybody's elderly and/or very overweight, and the difficulty level is appropriately dialed down by the teacher for these students...and I think "wow, this really isn't much fun," and, when I leave, I feel unsatisfied, and I might even run off to find another class that will give me the yogic butt-kicking I realize I so fervently desire.... In the immortal words of Gilda Radner (as Roseanne Roseannadanna): if it's not one thing, it's another...

  10. i can't believe that you've stayed so committed to yoga despite the nausea. guess what! i'm finally giving yoga a try! no nausea for me so far...

  11. I would actually like to disagree - I think yoga is for barfing, if barfing is what you need to do.

    Because the barfing is information about something that's going on in your body. On a physical and/or emotional level.

    Nausea like that (I've had it from time to time, too) can be much less to do with physical capability and more to do with emotional repression.

    Because that's what we humans do so well - repress what we consider to be unacceptable emotions and we jam them so tightly into our bodies and hope we never see them again. But then we practice yoga and work our way into those places and... hey presto, we feel sick!

    Sometimes the best thing to do is back off, as you have been doing. But not before investigating where the nausea is coming from.

    Is it when you're working into your hips? Or just the thoracic region and as you say, only in certain poses? Does the nausea originate from your belly or somewhere else in your body?

    There might be another way to resolve whatever it is that's making you feel sick other than working through the postures. But you could also give it a try in your own home. What's the worst that could happen? That you actually vomit? That's not so bad, right? You might, if you were lucky, also get to the bottom of something you've been hiding from yourself...

    Of course, if you were here in Australia I'd suggest getting some kinesiology (I don't know if you guys have it in Canada) because that goes right to the heart of anything we've repressed!

  12. @svasti: i wondered about that. it is in my upper thoracic region only (never have any uncomfortable stuff with hip postures- even though that's a common one).

    we do have kinesiologists here in Canada- but it doesn't sound like they have the same scope of practice as in Australia?

    most of my friends who have a kines. degree have gone to work with athletes.... and university sports teams.

    i'm thinking more reiki for blocages?

  13. ahhh- maybe you mean "Applied Kinesiology"?

  14. It's not quite applied kinesiology, more holistic kinesiology. You can take a look at Kerry's site (she's in Aus) for more information:

    I've never had reiki but if that works for you, then that might be a good thing to try!

    Whatever you do, do something. This is an opportunity to resolve some of your more hidden "stuff"!

  15. I came across your post; I am a yoga instructor, and this has happened to me as well. Through what I've researched and been taught, it is typically the liver that causes that nauseated feeling. I used to feel it in all backbends, now just sometimes in twisting poses. Baby cobra you are actually both stretching the liver and gently pressing on it with your body weight. If your intense side stretch is particularly deep, you're also pressing on the liver with your body weight. Upward dog is still in a way allowing your body weight to press on the liver, although not as much as in baby cobra, but it's also stretching it quite a bit more than cobra. The reason you probably don't feel it in fish or camel is, although the liver is being stretched, it's being lifted away from other organs and nothing is really pressing on it. I'm curious as to why chair pose causes nausea though; doesn't seem like the liver is being stimulated that much in that pose. The first time I experienced all this I was in yoga training for the weekend, and I thought I was coming down with a stomach bug. The weekend focus had been twists AND backbends!

  16. @Anon: this is interesting!! It would explain a lot... thank you! I also don't know why chair, except maybe i feel a lot of compression in my upper thoracic region mostly- so maybe chair is more of an emotional thing like svasti suggested?

  17. Hey dear,

    Don't be hard on yourself - everybody's (every _body's_) edge is different. It may look like the other yogis in class are blissfully breezing through, but we all have our 'edges', all have our body quirks. The trick is not to judge our bodies by those, but to appreciate the million things your body is doing 'right' every single minute of the day!

    One of the things that can happen in backbending (which chair can be as well, depending on how you practice the pose) and some side-bending postures, especially if you are tight in the thoracic spine is that the backbend in the lower spine pushes the internal organs (including liver and stomach) forward to make room for the backbend. As I read your post I wondered if that could be related to the nausea you are experiencing? If so, one thing that might help would be do do these poses on an exhale (even though they are normally cued on an inhale) and as you do the pose, focus on tucking the tailbone in and drawing the belly button towards the spine. This activates the transverse abdominals which act like a stabiliser for the internal organs, keeping them snug and secure.

    Whether or not that's helpful, you are doing the right thing by taking it easy in these poses. Remember, there is no such thing as a "perfect" pose - only an expression of a pose that is perfect for you. Every body is different and no two yogas are truly alike. The 'true' yoga is the 'you' yoga!

    PS - you kitty is SO cute!!!

  18. I also feel nauseous during yoga, especially when I do asanas first thing in the morning. I think it's because my body isn't awake enough to "cope" with all my twisting.I don't push it anyway.
    But if the nausea is part of the detoxification process, I'm all good with it!

  19. Last night in yoga class we did a back bend through a folding chair. It immediatly made me feel dizzy and I felt like I was going to throw up. I had never experienced this before and after class asked the yoga instructor who said it happens but is not common. I spent the remainder of the evening beating myself up and thinking Oh maybe I shouldn't do yoga... but seeing all this comments makes me feel better I am not alone!


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