Ashtanga Yoga and Restless Leg Syndrome (RSL)

So I am there, face-to-face with John who is helping me (at Pure Yoga) and I drop back twice and he says it is getting much better.  I am encouraged by the compliment but something feels weird, out of place. The lights in the studio are dimming out, who is turning the switch off? Oh wait, there is more, my legs are shaking, everything is turning black, ants are walking through my veins, I need to bend over and hold my knees.

And then… I die.

UPDATE: After you read this post, it might be good for you to know that I confused what was happening to me, and was subsequently diagnosed with Lyme disease… you can read about it here

OK, I am still here I did not die but my “will to live” disappeared. I did not even know your will to live could disappear, I only realized it was happening when John told me that if what I felt was that the will to live was gone then I was sure to be in the presence of fear.

life force
pic from here

He is right, of course, I do have some issues of fear, but I was left scratching my head on the way home because I also know that it is true that I feel a lot more confident in the backbend.  Fear is a part of it but it is not the same as, say, a year ago.

Back at the desk I wrote a ranting post about fear.  Then I could not hit publish.  Something was off again. It could not be all about fear, not again, not at this level, I have traveled through the fear issues again and again, there had to be something else.

I realized later that I have been getting very dizzy, tired, and that my legs get buttery a lot.  I also get these jittery feelings in my legs.  It only happens once in a while, where they want to move or jump, or just won’t stay quiet.

A simple google search led me to believe perhaps it is a nutrition issue. The jitter in the legs has been given a name “restless legs syndrome” and I need more iron, I could even be anemic.  No wonder it has been so hard to go through the whole practice and on some days I have been so tired that meditation or pranayama was impossible.  I was blaming it on the summer, but maybe it is not the sun after all.

Symptoms of lack of iron include (among others)

  • Fatigue
  • Restless legs syndrome 
  • Shortness of breath
  • and all other symptoms associated with anemia.
hm, tempted aready

Leafy greens, chick peas, egg yolks, even red meat… here I may have to come!

Do you know of any good iron supplements?  Do you take any?

As I mentioned in the update, IT IS ALWAYS advisable to consult a doctor when symptomps persist, read why here.

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14 Responses to Ashtanga Yoga and Restless Leg Syndrome (RSL)

  1. Mirella August 11, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    I had a similar experience recently which led me to the same conclusion. I bought an iron supplement at the local health food store but when I mentioned to my teacher, who is an Ayurvedic practicioner, that I was taking it he cautioned me NOT to take any iron supplements without an official diagnosis from a doctor since it could be dangerous. He suggested Tumeric in plain yoguart every day and

  2. denise August 11, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    me too I guess is much better have the iron from food then from supplements. add always some lemon juice in what you eat, the vit. c helps to absorve iron. Molasses (from sugar cane) is also very rich in iron. Also black beans. Leave them in water all night, dismiss then this water and then cook, if you want I can. Snd you my recipe!

  3. diveintoashtanga August 11, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    i say talk to your doctor lovely lady 😉 ivana

  4. AshtangaYogaEcstaticAdventures August 11, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    Hi Claudia! I was severely anemic during my first year of university. I think I had half of the minimum level of iron for happy functioning. Eventually I went to a dietician who attributed the problem to massive amounts of caffeine, as well as dairy, which I was ingesting copiously in a misguided and hopeless attempt to make my boobs grow. Sometimes it's not what you eat, but whether or

  5. Nobel August 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Hello Claudia, <br /> I have no medical advice to offer, but I wonder if it could be due to the summer heat? Perhaps the hot weather is causing you to lose more water (and with it, more nutrients, including iron) than usual? I felt it this morning too; I felt so run-down, I had to take a nap after practice! Perhaps eating more nutrient-rich foods (including the ones you suggest) and

  6. lilasvb August 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    anamia is not good and some time it is hard to notice we have it, take care of yourself

  7. Claudia August 11, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Mirella, thanks for sharig that, it is also what I heard, that the dose of iron could be dangerous, to be careful, can&#39;t remember where I heard it or from whom, but Tumeric and yogurth sounds more doable…<br /><br />Denisse, totally, that is what I am doing, today so far I had cheak peas, orange juice with kale, red meat, peanut butter, and I will only have iron foods for a while, don&#39;t

  8. tom August 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Before my recent stint practicing ashtanga yoga I spent 20 years or so training and competing in a variety of martial arts, and at times trained 6-8 hours per day. There were always times when I would hit a wall in my training and experience symptoms like you described, as would many of my training mates. Our trainers would always look to mineral depletion. A focus on potassium, magnesium, and B

  9. Claudia August 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Tom, thanks for that extended essay there, I appreciate you sharing these… keeping a diary is also a GREAT idea! in order to identify what works, how come I did not think of that?<br /><br />ionized alakline water never crossed my mind, very interesting, will add your suggestions to my list for next time I go to the health food store, thank you

  10. MIn August 11, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    Hey Claudia<br />I agree with all of the above, however, if you are definately iron deficient ( ie have ferritin stores 25 and below), then it may be reasonable to supplement with Iron. I recommend &quot;Spatone&quot;, an iron rich mineral water from Wales (hope you can get it in the US) which has the most absorbable form of iron. Being 99% vegan (much to the disgust of my medical colleagues), I

  11. Claudia August 11, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    Min, thanks for that, just looked into it, amazing that it would be just sachetted water … will try

  12. Boodiba August 11, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    Hey Claudia! I&#39;m not sure if our constitutions are similar, but I&#39;ve had the experience in the past (with back bending) of my energy spiraling out of control. I don&#39;t think it was anything physical beyond the nervous system. I just got jacked up too high, in the summer heat, in my excitement of back bending. i actually blacked out for a few seconds while being assisted in Kapotasana.

  13. Ro August 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    I don&#39;t know if you are a vegetarian, Claudia, but if you are, you should definitely take a B12 supplement. B12 only comes from animal sources and a few things like kelp and enriched nutritional yeast.<br />Last year, a similar thing happened to me, but the numbness didn&#39;t go away. In under a week, I had completely lost control of one leg, and had constant pins and needles in the other

  14. Claudia August 12, 2011 at 6:59 am #

    Boodiba, oh I want to believe that is the case! and it probably IS! I think it might be a combination because the down was really down and I have started feeling better just from 36 hours of focusing on eating more iron… I will see how practice goes today but at least the tingling on the legs went away…<br /><br />Ro, wow… just read that and took my B vitamine… thank you for sharing