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Friday Q&A: Tremors While Doing Yoga

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge

Friday Q&A: Tremors while Doing Yoga

New Leaves by Melina Meza

Q: Great article on essential tremors and yoga, thanks! How might an instructor differentiate between a student experiencing tremors from over exerting a pose vs. essential tremor?
A: It may be a universal experience for new students to yoga, especially if you have been sedentary, are naturally stiff or weak, or if you are in a class beyond your level of ability to experience “shaky” muscles. This usually arises when holding poses statically for a while, versus moving from pose to pose with your breath.  Even experienced yogis can have this kind of muscle quivering arise if they are moving to the next level of difficulty in the physical practices, or if they have taken a break from yoga for a while and are first returning to regular practice.
The key difference between this very common and normal challenge to tight or weak muscles resulting in a tremor like feeling and the essential tremors I wrote about previously in my post Yoga for Tremors is that they resolve immediately after coming out of the pose, and become less frequent with regular practice, even just once or twice a week in a public class. In those with essential tremor, although there might be slight improvement over time in the degree of tremor, in all likelihood, the tremors will remain and continue to arise when the arms or legs are held out in space.  And, in the person with essential tremor, usually, if the hands are grounded as in Cat/Cow position, the arms are unlikely to tremor, or will at least be much less than say in Warrior 2. And same goes for the legs in standing poses like Powerful pose (Utkatasana); but hold the legs up in the air as in Shoulder Stand and the essential tremor student will likely experience visible tremor. 
Don’t get me wrong, the student with essential tremor could also have shaky muscles in the legs in Triangle, too, unrelated to the essential tremor, especially if the student is tight or weak in the legs and hips. I’d emphasize that the student who does not have essential tremor should notice less and less tremor—or more accurately, muscle shakiness—from class to class if he or she is practicing regularly and doing similar poses from week to week. If there is not this expected improvement, it would be advisable to check in with your family doctor for a physical exam to make sure there is not anything unusual going on with your muscles and nervous system. And, in a more common-sense vein, always make sure you are eating appropriately, to guarantee you have adequate energy for practice, and that you are adequately hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.

—Baxter

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