Question about trembling and shaking

Please use this forum for asking questions or offering comments arising from the 50-Hour Online Yin Yoga Teacher Training conducted by Bernie Clark, Diana Batts and Yoga International.
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Posts: 1228
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Question about trembling and shaking

Post by Bernie »

Recently we were asked the following question:

  • First of all, a very big thank you for the teaching I received at distance. I didn't think I could train with you, Diana and Bernie. I don't think I'd have the opportunity to come to you, so the zoom did wonders. So thank you again for your beautiful presence, I felt like I was in the room with you.

    I am always delighted to see how there is always something that moves us forward on the path of interiority. I was delighted to see Diana's adaptations in the postures and to see the richness of this practice. I am also delighted now to be able to work on the meridians in the yoga postures. As Paul Grilley says, the two approaches complement each other perfectly.

    In one of your sessions, Bernie, you explained to us that your pranayama practice had been troubling you for over 6 months. And that's where my questions come in:

    I had a burnout and it took me 3 years to recover. Different elements of my private life brought me there. I think, however what precipitated it all was the practice of a form of bastrika in an inverted posture. I don't know if you're familiar with this practice, but I suspect that it had completely unbalanced my system, especially my hormonal system. I tried to cope on my own because I couldn't find therapists to follow me. Any yoga practice, no matter how gentle, was too unbalancing for me. For several months, for example, I couldn't eat and each time I had to go to bed, even with a very light meal, because I felt like I was fainting. In my research, I think that my vagus nerve was touched and I managed to rebalance this system thanks to deep and gentle breathing, especially the EX. I became interested in Dr Stephen Porges Polyvagal theory.
    Since then, however, there have been "inexplicable" inner vibrations, a kind of impulse like beats in my whole body, solar plexus and neck. These vibrations are less perceptible during the day and can become very strong at night (sometimes around 1, 3 or 4 o'clock) waking me up. I have to get out of bed to calm them down.

    Through my experience of yin yoga, which is very recent, I have the impression that the postures act on these "impulses", they have become more perceptible in my body. Could the meridians be the origin of these impulses? I tried acupuncture 3 years ago but the effect was transitory.

    Are you familiar with this type of phenomenon? Have you any explanations or advices?

Hi A

I am happy you were able to join our training in May, and hope you are keeping safe.

Your experience sounds similar to what I went through, which also arose after too much, unbounded pranayama practice. I too took a long to time to regain balance, but fortunately, I did. What you are experiencing in terms of night tremors may be related to the longterm affects of your vigorous pranayama practice, or it may be something else entirely. I would suggest the first thing you should do is - go see your doctor!

From what you describe, I do not suspect anything serious to be the problem. However, sometimes tremors are caused by serious conditions such as Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, and other maladies. Or it could be simply being hypoglycaemic. Again, a visit to your doctor would be worthwhile just to make sure there is nothing seriously wrong. She may ask you about your sleeping habits, eating habits, etc which could also point to low blood sugar as being a possible cause. That would be simple to fix.

One reason that I don't think you have these more serious underlying conditions is the fact that your shaking is not happening in the limbs, nor during the day. But, remember, I am not a doctor. Again-it is better to be sure and not ignore the possibility that there is something serious at the root of this.

Assuming, there is nothing amiss physically, the next possibility to look into is anxiety. Yes, anxiety can cause waking up in the middle of the night with shaking! Again, professional advice would be good to make sure this is not a cause in your case. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that anxiety may be the underlying cause here, perhaps triggered by low blood sugar/diet variations. Yin Yoga can be great for addressing anxiety, if done with the proper guidance. Again, a therapist may be able to help you if this is the cause.

If none of these things turn out to be the cause, then we are left with a bit of mystery. That was my situation as well. I went through all the medical tests (including psychological ones) and nothing was found. I did try alternative forms of treatment, from Ayurveda to acupuncture. They also did not help. It was my own speculation that my pranayama practice created too much blood chemistry changes and that affected my brain. It took time, and a gentle practice (thank goodness for Yin Yoga!) and mindfulness to help be get over it. Eventually, my body healed itself, once I stopped doing more damage.

I am not sure this is very helpful, but do go seek a professional opinion just to make sure nothing is really wrong.

Good luck!
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