A Headache at Kripalu.

Via Jay Winston
on Jan 3, 2011
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been thinking about
thinking about thinking, and
winter’s closing in

Massachusetts was a lot colder than Philly’d been so far that year. Saw some white on the mountaintops driving in, as well as remains of a snowman…snowperson…snowbeing…on Kripalu’s back deck. Still, particularly since the only other time I was there the whole place was covered with a sheet of ice that kept everybody inside, I had to get out and take a brisk hike down through that chilly air to the lake upon arrival.

Already irritated early November sinus passages just about screamed.  And, wonderful as the weekend was otherwise—I practiced yoga, ate far better than I do at home, and took part in Tara Brach’s program on radical acceptance—the pain wavered in form and intensity, but didn’t go away. Intense as my experiences in guided meditations and discussions on embracing oneself and one’s reality as it is, this harsh, constant irritation seemed to stand resolutely in the way of fully experiencing it all.

Of course, it wasn’t just the physical symptom. It was the serene expressions and positive vibes radiating from the people around me…even when they were bursting into tears…having the kind of deep, authentic, pure spiritual and emotional experience I myself might enjoy if it weren’t for those damned sinuses.

Then, the next day, in one of the program sessions, heard somebody mention casually that his head had been hurting all morning.

Seriously, it never occurred to me that I might not be the only person in the entire place with a headache.

In a totally mellow spiritual holistic type setting like that, you just tend to assume that everybody else is positively blanketed in wellness and good feeling. At least I do.

Then, I also tend to think I’m the only person in the yoga class thinking about lunch instead of fully inhabiting whatever asana experience we’re supposed to be having…the only person at the party feeling lonely and out of place…the only person on the sidewalk lost in worry instead of striding purposefully toward success success success.

The irony of which is that I’m anything but alone in feeling that way. In fact, it’s probably that, more than anything else, that connects me to everyone else around. And the same goes for all of our headaches, our awkwardness, our doubts. And, certainly, if there’s one thing we’re never, ever truly alone in, it’s our loneliness…

The author will be attending yoga teacher training at Kripalu this winter. He’s gonna be totally feeling great the whole time he’s there. Like, really…

*Expanded from a shorter version at Yoga for Cynics*


About Jay Winston

Jay S. Winston, founder and proprietor of Yoga for Cynics (http://yogaforcynics.blogspot.com), has a PhD in English, making him the kind of doctor who, in case of life-threatening emergency, can explain Faulkner while you die, is currently (semi-)(un-)employed as a freelance writer and editor, teaches creative writing to homeless men, tutors recovering addicts in reading, was recently certified as a Kripalu yoga teacher, gets around mostly by bicycle, is trying to find an agent for his novel, resides in the bucolic Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, State of Mildly Inebriated Samadhi, U.S.A. and, like most people who bike and practice yoga, used to live in Boulder.


5 Responses to “A Headache at Kripalu.”

  1. Nancy A says:

    thanks for this.. heading up to Kripalu on Friday and of course such anxiety always comes with me too. Good luck with the training!

  2. Hi, Jay. Very happy to hear about your Kripalu training. I'm sure it will be a wonderful experience and we look forward to reading about it right here.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  3. *jj* says:


  4. lindsayyoga says:

    Radical. Thanks for this reminder, Jay. I hope to make it to Kripalu soon. 🙂

  5. Marion says:

    last March while in a yoga class at Kripalu, I experienced an intense optic migraine while laying on the floor – that had never happened to me before. I figured out the cause was a) taking the very early morning class without eating anything and b) giving up coffee cold-turkey while at Kripalu. I was dizzy but it passed and I finished the class. afterwards I ate a banana and drank a cup of coffee – all better!