A recent study has shown that there may be some important benefits to practicing yoga for fibromyalgia. But, what is fibromyalgia?
It is a chronic disorder that predominantly affects women over men. The victims experience varying degrees of muscle pain and constant persistent fatigue. All of the following conditions can be classified as fibromyalgia: endometriosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, interstitial cystitis, vulvodynia and temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
A recent study involving 53 women over 21 and diagnosed with fibromyalgia showed that practicing yoga on a regular basis could help improve the intensity of fibromyalgia symptoms. To qualify for this study, these women had to take over-the-counter medications to help treat their fibromyalgia symptoms for at least three months at the start of the study.
For the sake of comparison, 25 of the women enrolled in an eight-week Yoga Consciousness class, while the other 28 women continued to receive their standard medical care for fibromyalgia. Classes consisted of 40 minutes of light stretching, 23 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of breathing exercises, 20 minutes of verbal presentations teaching women various yoga principles to cope with their pain, and concluded with a 25-minute group discussion during which participants had the opportunity to talk about their yoga practices at home and the impact it had on their lives.
So, is yoga good for fibromyalgia?
The researchers found that women who participated in the Yoga for Awareness class experienced significantly reduced fibromyalgia symptoms and that their condition was much easier to manage.
Lower levels of pain, less fatigue, higher moods and an improved ability to deal with pain more positively were all benefits reported by those who learned to incorporate yoga into their daily lives. Some women even resorted to greater spiritual guidance as a mechanism to cope with their symptoms.
How does yoga help relieve the pain of fibromyalgia?
The practice of yoga for fibromyalgia has several benefits, including the following:
Reduces muscle tension
Anyone who suffers from fibromyalgia can attest to the fact that it can be extremely difficult to handle because it was not diagnosed or diagnosed correctly. Sometimes, conventional methods of treating fibromyalgia are insufficient.
Yoga can help relieve a lot of tension and stiffness in the muscles. Contrary to popular and misguided beliefs, it is not really necessary to be flexible or coordinated to practice yoga regularly. In fact, with regular practice, your flexibility and muscle coordination will naturally improve.
Practicing yoga should not be a competition against yourself. The main objective is to improve your physical strength, mobility and mental state in a healthy, safe and welcoming environment that is conducive to your well-being. Starting with gentle stretches can greatly help maximize the quality of your movements both on and off the mat.
Improve spinal alignment
Your musculoskeletal system is designed in a natural and intuitive way to help your entire body. That said, incorrect movements can completely misalign certain parts of your body.
If done correctly and under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor, yoga can help you improve your spinal alignment and teach you valuable techniques that will inevitably bleed into your daily life. Through the power of yoga, anyone can achieve naturally fluid and conscious movements.
All yoga postures can be modified to your skill level and making these adjustments throughout your practice will also make you more aware of the way you are moving and how this can be effective or harmful to your body alignment. Mindfulness is a learned trait and will help you avoid certain movements that can exacerbate your fibromyalgia symptoms.
Improves sleep and mental health.
Your mind and body are connected, which means that, in many ways, they are the same. With that in mind, it is important to remember that yoga addresses your mind and body equally.
Each of the positions you can achieve is a personal gain for your mental state, as much as it is for your physical disposition. That also means that yoga forces you to listen to your body’s needs, to understand its limitations and not to exceed your limits. That does not mean that you should not challenge yourself to some extent.
Experiencing some minor discomfort while learning new postures is completely natural and expected because you are using muscle groups that were probably inactive for a long time. However, you should never feel any sharp or throbbing pain, and if you do, try to see if you can modify the posture to suit your level of practice. Working with a licensed yoga instructor to help you adjust or fix your alignment is a good starting point until you feel comfortable doing your own personal practice at home.
Yoga postures for fibromyalgia
The following is a list of yoga postures for fibromyalgia pain:
This posture has many useful variations that you can try depending on your skill level and physical ability. The norm is to get on your knees and then, slowly and gently, move your back forward, lowering your forehead to the ground or as close as possible. You can place your knees together, spaced at hip height, or as wide as your yoga mat, depending on your level of comfort and flexibility. Place your loose arms at your side with your palms up or down, or you can stretch them forward.
The goal is to stretch the muscles of the back without forcing them and concentrate on breathing. This is a great way to relax your mind and body after a long day at work or to relieve back pain. Get out of the posture slowly and gently using your core to support yourself as you get up.
Paws up the wall
This investment position consists of placing your legs, hips and feet against a wall and maintain the posture as long as you want. You can modify the posture according to your needs by bending your knees for more support or even using a booster to lift your body. This position helps to relax the lower body and increases blood flow to the lower extremities, which can help stretch the hamstrings and open the hips.
In appearance, mountain pose seems to be one of the simplest yogic postures available, but it is actually more challenging than it seems because it tests your center of gravity and your ability to maintain a firm stance while concentrating on your breathing. . This concentration exercise to keep muscles and breathing in alignment can help relieve physical pain and stress.
Standing forward is another excellent and versatile posture to stretch the muscles of the back and hamstrings, while opening the hips. You can stand with your feet together or your hip width, breathe deeply and exhale slowly while gently bending your upper body to touch the toes. The hands can fall to the floor, grab the opposite elbows or rest behind the calves. It all depends on your physical abilities and what you hope to achieve with this posture. Your fingers do not even have to touch your toes and you can bend your knees as generously as necessary to get extra support or reduce intensity.
Also known as “corpse posture,” savasana is one of the most relaxing, restorative and rejuvenating postures. It may seem that all you are doing is lying down, but the reality is that you are focusing on exercising the mind and relaxing the body by ignoring external stimuli as much as possible and at the same time recognizing, but not responding to, your existence. The goal is to use your senses to pay attention to what surrounds you and to remain consciously present, while accepting that there are certain external forces over which you have no control. The posture of the corpse is usually ideal to do at the end of your practice or just before going to bed.
The posture of the cobra is an excellent yoga posture for those who suffer fibromyalgia because it opens the chest and stretches the back actively, both are important problem areas for people living with chronic pain. Start by lying on your stomach with your nose down. Gently place the palms of your hands on either side of your chest, directly below the folds of your elbow. Then inhale deeply and gently lift your chest, neck and head upwards while keeping your elbows as close as possible to your body. Hold this position for a few breaths or as long as you can and then, on your next exhalation, gently lower it down.
While it is extremely important for fibromyalgia sufferers to relax their bodies and minds, it is equally important to practice postures that strengthen the muscles and help activate them. Warrior I is the ideal posture to achieve this healthy balance because it strengthens the legs, the center and the back, while keeping the mind active and focused.
This position is directed to the hips, thighs, knees and groin by actively opening and stretching the muscles that are there. It also helps strengthen and compromise the central and back muscles because you need to use them to stay upright and maintain a straight and perfectly aligned posture. Sit up straight with your legs stretched out in front of you and then breathe while pushing them slowly towards your body.
Put your ankles or shins with your hands while gently bringing your feet to your groin and pressing the soles of your feet together. Concentrate on sitting up straight, instead of trying to get your knees to touch the ground. If this position is too difficult, you can place yoga blocks under each of your knees to help support them.
Tips to keep in mind when doing yoga for fibromyalgia
If you are new to the practice of yoga for the pain of fibromyalgia, here are some important tips you should keep in mind:
- Choose a relaxing and stress-free environment as your practice space free of distractions.
- Try to be attentive and present.
- Listen to your body and never try to push yourself too hard or go beyond your limits. Everything will pass in due time and the progress is gradual.
- Modify the postures if you feel some kind of pain or immense discomfort.
- Come into this with an open mind and remember that your results will not be made overnight. It takes time, patience, practice and commitment.
- Create a workable routine that works for you and stick with it.
- Try not to feel discouraged if you have not reached a certain level of strength, stability or flexibility at a certain point. It is good to set goals for yourself, but do not be too hard on yourself if you do not achieve them all within a certain time. While you are doing the work, then the result will always be good.
- Concentrate on your breathing techniques and learn the proper alignment for each posture.
- Pay attention to the sensations in your body and remain active in all your senses. This will help you stay in the moment.
- Do not be afraid to let your mind wander to other things from time to time. This is perfectly normal, as long as you practice returning it to the current moment and focus on the here and now.
- Never block your knees during postures, as this can exacerbate your pain and discomfort or even cause serious injury.
- If you are new to yoga, try to attend some classes first with a licensed instructor. They can help you learn the proper alignment for your body and how to do each posture safely.
- Use accessories such as yoga blocks, blankets or pillows as needed to help you modify the most difficult postures.
Yoga is an excellent form of light and gentle exercise for people who suffer from fibromyalgia and other physical conditions. It helps you to be more in tune with what your body is able to do, as well as with your limitations. Yoga provides a good alternative to traditional methods of treating fibromyalgia or can be practiced along with them.
When it comes to yoga and the study of fibromyalgia that is mentioned in this article, there are still no definitive answers, since the situation and the intensity of the symptoms of all are completely different. However, there is considerable evidence to show that formulating a consistent practice that incorporates the aforementioned postures can mean that yoga is good for fibromyalgia in many different capacities. Whichever route you choose to take your fibromyalgia treatment and your yogic trip, always be sure to consult your doctor before implementing any changes in your exercise routine.