Adventures of the Sleepy Yogi: A Mid-Summer Day’s Challenge

Today’s 12 noon class marked #21 of my 21 Day Yoga Challenge! It also rung in the Summer Solstice at 12:16pm EST (the moment that the Earth’s axis points closest to the sun). Yet, my midsummer day’s practice was far from a Shakespearian dream or Buddha’s enlightenment. Instead, I hung upside down in down-dog, battling nausea.

To start, our instructor invited us to set an intention or dedication. In honor of the solstice, I set “light and positive change” as my intention. Warming up, I felt centered and peaceful.

Moving into more challenging twisting poses –  my strength melted quickly as a wave of nausea came over me. My muscles trembled and beads of sweat dripped from my nose onto the mat.  My head was light and my gaze unsteady.

On occasion, my narcolepsy medications leave me nauseated. I’ve minimized these side-effects with good habits and tricks I’ve learned over the past 4 years.  Yet, the 21 Day Yoga Challenge has required me to dig deeper into my body and mind’s boundaries than I would otherwise. During this challenge, all of me – the athlete and the person with narcolepsy – has been exposed.

Instead of my usual mantra: “Breathe in – Let, Breathe out – Go,” today’s mantra was,”Don’t throw up, Julie. Don’t throw up.”

When unbearable, I took child’s pose for relief, but my competitive fighting spirit got me up and back in sync with the others quickly.  I teetered between extended side-angle and collapse.  Inconveniently far from the exit and bathroom, I wasn’t sure I would make it gracefully out of class if necessary.  Yet, I placed myself into the palms of fate and trudged on.

Before long, we began our cool-down and the discomfort dissipated. From here, I was home free – overcoming nausea and officially completing the 21 Day Challenge.

This challenge has taught me that every day is new and different. Thoughts, feelings and emotions are always shifting and no two moments, minutes, days or yoga classes are alike. Yoga and meditation invite us to pay attention to this shifting – for better and worse.

My 21 day challenge experience has run the gamete. One day, tears streamed uncontrollably down my cheeks as I thought of a close friend who had recently experienced a great loss. Another day, I was fixated on a post-yogic frozen yogurt – debating Pinkberry versus Mr. Yogato.  Other days, I was able to quiet the internal chatter and “ride the breath” – achieving stillness of heart and mind.

Surprisingly, I only fell asleep for a split second once during the 21 classes.  My success isn’t quite as glitzy and glam as a marathon, but I’ve gained invaluable strength and confidence. I plan to continue with a regular yoga routine (3-4 days a week).

In closing, a big CONGRATULATIONS to the other Tranquil Space Challengers! There were over 60 yogis attempting this challenge.  I’d love to hear about their experiences or anyone else’s adventures with yoga and meditation.


  1. Gail on June 22, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Congratulations Julie on successfully completing the 21 day challenge! You are an inspiration to me and others. Even without narcolepsy I cannot stay dedicated to exercising every day. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  2. Melissa on June 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Yay! Congrats, Julie! I'm so proud of you! Your dedication is very admirable. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. You have inspired me in so many ways.

  3. Maggie B on June 29, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Hmmm, fixating on a post-yoga fro-yo? I can relate to that…

    Congratulations Julie. This is great stuff!

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