Barre3; yoga, Pilates, ballet, exercise and stretch for Migraine help

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IMG_5400Many people ask me what I do for exercise while suffering with chronic migraines.  The real answer is that if my migraine is above a 7 I can barely do anything.  I do, however, try to move my body and workout preventatively to provide faster recovery and better overall health when I can.

As a teenager I was a three sport athlete.  Although I learned countless lessons from being on a team, as an adult I am not serving a volleyball, running bases, or shooting a 3 pointer in my everyday life.  My reason for working out was to win and now it’s to be healthier.


I found a new way of looking at fitness and my body.  Barre3 is a combination of Pilates, yoga, and ballet.  It focuses on functional movement.  They say that your workout should carry you throughout the day making you taller and brighter.  It is a one hour (or less) workout that prepares you for the other 23 hours of your day.  It encourages you to honor your body and is noncompetitive.  Some days I feel great and push myself while other days I’m sick and go as a distraction and way to loosen up.  I once had an instructor say, “Even if you come and sit in child’s pose the whole time, you showed up and are doing what feels good to you.”  Exercise can trigger or make me feel better so having the mind set to listen to my body is good.  I am honoring my mind and body and if pushing myself hurts I stop.  If it feels good, I push harder.

The movements that I have found that help the most with my migraines are the stretches.  I know stretches and yoga help but I have not been in the habit of doing so until now.  The neck stretches are priceless to my muscle tension.  We also do twists that provide detoxification and gently massages the organs.  When I first started going I was shocked at how inflexible I was and how I saw an improvement in my mobility.

My studio, Barre3 Legacy, is celebrating their anniversary of opening.  I started the week it opened and never looked back.  The instructors and owner are amazing!  They are strong, inspiring, kind, mothers and women who love to spread the message of Barre3.  My son loves their child care and asks when he can go back which motivates me.  It is a clean place filled with positivity.  The studio is bright and I have found my spot in the front away from the windows and glare.  They also turn off the lights while doing floor work and have fans that help me from overheating.  Most of the instructors know I suffer from intense migraines and ask at the beginning of class about issues they need to be aware of to make accommodations to each client.

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This sign is in the bathroom.  I wish it was everywhere for those of us who are triggered by scents


In January, a challenge was made to do 4 1-hour classes, one recipe, and one at home 10 minute workout a week.  I was unable to do all of it, but once again made it my own.  As a studio member I hadn’t looked much at the online workouts or recipes.  When I did, I loved the nutritional approach of the team which aligns with how I eat to help with my migraines.  It is clean real food that doesn’t lack in flavor and I feel good about serving my family.  

I loved the 10 minute workouts which I had not tried before.  My daughter walked in when I was doing one and Sadie (the founder) said that the workout was to “feel good in your own skin.”  A smile spread across my face as she said it because THAT is the lesson I want my daughter to hear.  I don’t want her hearing skinny and fat.  I want her hearing words of health and feeling good about herself without comparison to others.  I know that teaching her about how food and exercise make her feel instead of how she looks will set her up for a positive lifelong vision of herself.  I am just now learning these lessons and it’s hard to change my mentality growing up in a skinny, low carb/fat/calorie everything world.  I hope that by teaching her these lessons now she will not face the self-criticism that most girls grow up with and see her strengths as beauty and wellness.  If only every girl could see themselves through their mother’s eyes!

Along with the 10 minute workouts there are various workout times and focuses that I can do at home.  I plan on doing more at home when I’m feeling too sick to go to the studio.  The challenge opened my eyes to the recipes and at home workouts which I know will be helpful on difficult days.

Migraines are SO difficult to live with and weight issues arise with medication, being sedentary, and craving sugary food.  They dictate my life and everything in it.  I try to focus on finding what makes me feel better and dropping the guilt about not being the athlete I used to be and competitor that has faded.   Doing the best I can, when I can is how I look at it now.  I fail at my diet daily.   I have days I can’t move and that’s ok.  I’m just trying to better myself and that’s all I can do.

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Owner, Liz Ferrante and I after an amazing class!

*I am not sponsored or endorsed by Barre3 in any way.  This post is meant to celebrate Barre3 Legacy’s anniversary, to share my Barre3 story and inspire you to find what makes you feel good in your skin.


I tell stories of My Migraine Life. I'm a mom, wife, teacher, and chronic migraine sufferer. I tell my stories and advocate in my life searching for health in a positive honest way.

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  1. Vicki on February 2, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Keep rocking it my friend! You are strong and amazing!

  2. Debbie on February 3, 2016 at 6:55 am

    AWESOME article Happy Burthday Barre3! Makes me want to stretch and motivates me to do more for my body Thanks Sarah

  3. Liz on February 3, 2016 at 7:59 am

    You, too, are a strong, inspiring, wonderful mother. And, we’re privileged to have you (and Reed) as part of our barre3 Community. xoxo

  4. peanutfreemigrainemom on February 8, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    Does the diet you mentioned include eliminating high tyramine foods? My migraine triggers include these foods, and I am working to find other foods/recipes. As I find them or work them out, I am posting them on my site for other migraineurs.

    I also have strong migraine reactions to fragrances and would love it if more places banned them as you noted above. It’s great you have a place like that to go!

  5. mymigrainelife on February 9, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Most of their recipes have real foods. I think if you see a recipe you like but know if has foods high in tyramine you could just omit or substitute it. I’m glad you know your food triggers & are addressing it, foods are really tricky for me!

  6. hopevsheadaches on February 25, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Wow I already feel like we are on the same path. I am getting back in to exercise and i’ve found yoga and pilates great! I used to dance so I might have to try and find your class. It’s great to know stenches help you too as I do so many for my neck and it really keeps it loose and then makes my headaches better. It’s inspiring to see someone else focusing on health rather than only the pain 🙂 xx

  7. mymigrainelife on February 25, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Great to connect. I look forward to learning and growing healthy with you!

  8. hopevsheadaches on February 25, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Fab, I can’t wait! It’s great to have a partner in crime on the same wave length 🙂

  9. Wendy Schaetzke on March 24, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Love this!

  10. mymigrainelife on June 23, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Reblogged this on My Migraine Life and commented:

    This week I’m talking about how I eat and exercise. I have NOT been endorsed or paid by Barre3. This is just what I do and I thought I’d share it with you. I have used their ideas on food and workout at their studios and online. I encourage you all to find something that makes you feel better. What do you do to exercise with migraines or how do you eat to help yourself?

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