Is Yoga Good For Fibromyalgia
Posted On March 22, 2020
As I say a lot on this blog – yoga can help a wide variety of different ailments, aches and pains. But what about something more complex and long-standing like fibromyalgia? Can yoga really help?
In this post, I’ll walk you through what I’ve found on this topic, hopefully helping you make your mind up about whether it might be helpful for either yourself or your loved one when experiencing fibromyalgia.
What is fibromyalgia?
Put simply, fibromyalgia is chronic pain and tenderness throughout the body. Symptoms may include pain, tenderness, fatigue, muscle stiffness and more.
If you imagine being in chronic pain, you’ll be able to imagine if just for a second, what daily life may be like for people who experience fibromyalgia.
Most people with fibromyalgia describe the sensation as being a burning pain or pins in their body. As you can imagine, most people experiencing this type of chronic pain as seeking ways to relieves their symptoms.
Treatment usually consists of medicines such as painkillers or antidepressants, talking therapies and certain lifestyle changes. And this is where yoga can fit in.
This is typical of how much ailments are treated nowadays. But I always wonder what the impact would be if the first port of call wasn’t medication, or even therapy, and was more of the lifestyle changes. Personally I think the impact may be more lasting and proactive health consciousness in the public.
What we can do is take some small steps to help each other out – and maybe yoga will work for you.
How can yoga help?
So where does yoga come into it? Can a yoga practice really help with a condition as complex and enduring as fibromyalgia?
The answer may be yes. In fact, yoga is one of the more recommended exercises for someone experiencing fibromyalgia.
It seems that one of the main reasons yoga may be beneficial for fibromyalgia is due to the breathwork that takes place as part of a yoga practice. Pranayamas are a staple for any yoga practice, and put the emphasis on slowing down your breathing, taking control of the breath and linking it to any poses you are currently doing.
Yoga also tends to shift the body out of the stress response and into the relaxation response. This is useful because people who experience fibromyalgia tend to be naturally in a more heightened response for long periods of time. Yoga can therefore provide a helpful and natural way to relax the naturally heightened response for some people.
There is one thing to consider, though. Like everything, different things affect different people in different ways. So, someone with fibromyalgia may have different triggers, different responses and different types of pain from others.
Therefore, we can’t always take a one size fits all approach when it comes to symptom relief. Some people may benefit from painkillers, some people may benefit from the breathwork aspect of yoga, and some people may need something a bit extra.
Whatever your situation and whatever your experience, just know that it’s all okay, and I’m sure you will find something that works for you.
What about meditation?
Yoga and meditation go hand in hand. But if you wanted, you can practice purely yoga or meditation. However, I believe you’ll get the best benefits of both by practicing them alongside one another.
Meditation is all about letting go of resistance, and accepting the present moment for whatever it is. This includes accepting any sensations that are circulating through your body and looking on them with acceptance, rather than trying to change them or get rid of them.
A recent scientific study found that mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of fibromyalgia may be most effective in decreasing the physical and psychological pain and symptoms of fibromyalgia. This may happen through various neural processes that occur within the brain.
They found that mindfulness meditation may be more effective when combined with other methods of treatment such as cognitive-behavioural therapy or simple exercise (including yoga!).
So, the science says it all – mindfulness meditation and other mindfulness based interventions can have a significant positive impact on the experience of symptoms in people who have fibromyalgia.
You could try combining this with your yoga practice to yield maximum results.
Poses to try
So how can you get started?
Before trying any new exercise regime, please check in with your GP and let them know what you are going to try and seek advice if needed.
It’s important to know that some of these poses might feel good, whilst others might not. Just because they will work for others does not mean they need to work for you as well. And this is okay.
So here are a few poses you could try out and get a feel for!
1. Standing forward fold
2. Bridge pose
3. Cobra pose
4. Corpse pose (my favourite)
As we mentioned before, it is the breathwork whilst practicing yoga that many people find so beneficial. So try to incorporate this into your pose. To do this, simply become conscious of your breathing. Inhale deeply and exhale deeply. Try to find a flow whilst moving through the poses that link with your breathwork.
What else might help?
There are some other natural remedies for fibromyalgia that you might find useful, or you might was to add them in alongside your new yoga and meditation practice. These include:
1. The right amount of sleep
2. Regular exercise
3. Rest + relaxation
4. Proper diet and supplements (if needed).
So I hope that this post has shed some light on the benefits of yoga and meditation for fibromyalgia. If you experience fibromyalgia, please reach out and let me know your thoughts on this post. I’d welcome any feedback you have and any other tips I could write about to help others in the same position.
If you do try any of the tips I have mentioned above, please let me know. I’d love to hear how it goes for you. And I’d love to hear if anything else you’ve tried has worked in the past!