Fibromyalgia can be a painful and debilitating health condition that drastically decreases your overall quality of life. There is also a constant search to find an alternative treatment method other than medication to help people cope with the condition. While exercising can be one of them, the medical condition can sometimes be too painful to exercise regularly. Hence, low-impact yoga may be an effective alternative exercise to help manage chronic pain. Read on to learn more about using yoga to deal with fibromyalgia and the associated pain.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a debilitating condition with symptoms of:
- musculoskeletal pain
- tenderness, fatigue
- poor sleep quality
- poor memory
- bowel problems
It can affect males and females, although females are at higher risk. It can cause a serious drop in the quality of living regarding practical, social, and personal functions.
Can Yoga Really Help With Fibromyalgia?
Yoga is low impact, has healing properties, and can be strength-building. In this case, the yoga classes in question are of the gentle, restorative nature. Depending on the studio, it can be called gentle hatha or just hatha yoga.
In a study conducted by Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), yoga helped patients combat serious fibromyalgia symptoms, including pain, fatigue, stiffness, poor sleep, depression, memory, anxiety, and balance. It has helped to improve their quality of life and impacted their daily activities for the better. There were improvements in pain, fatigue, and depression.
What Can Yoga Do For My Fibromyalgia?
While certain types of yoga can also help with strength and muscle building, this can come in handy later on. Initially, the most helpful aspect of yoga for fibromyalgia would be to know how to deeply relax the body and mind despite other distractions and sensations in the body, such as discomfort, fatigue, or pain. Once yoga becomes a habit, it will be easier to intentionally relax when needed outside of the class.
Peace of mind
Having fibromyalgia can be extremely stressful, and with the addition of daily worries, the mind can become cluttered, which can exacerbate symptoms. By clearing the mind with yoga, you can become mentally stronger. Hatha yoga breathing exercises (often referred to as pranayama in classes and scriptures) can further induce:
- increase energy
- heighten mental clarity
- bring peace of mind
- a sense of well-being
Since yoga is a low-impact exercise with minimal props, most exercises and stretching are with the body alone. Body awareness in each yoga pose (often referred to as “asana” in class) is also emphasized. So, you can understand how your body works and how it reacts to certain poses. You can understand and manage your body better through heightened body awareness. This can be extremely helpful when trying to control symptoms of fibromyalgia.
One downfall of using exercise as pain management therapy, with or without a physical therapist, is that people may want to push themselves too far. However, yoga emphasizes movement at your own pace, and there are no expectations or judgments amongst people in the class. Sometimes, people may feel the need to “impress” teachers in exercise classes, but this is not the same in yoga classes. Hence, the stress stemming from expectations is eliminated.
How To Start Using Yoga For Fibromyalgia
If you are considering yoga for fibromyalgia, talk to your doctor first. Once you get the green light from your doctor, slowly incorporate the practice into your life so it will not be overwhelming. Here are some tips on how to do so:
- Do research on different styles of yoga in your nearby studios.
- Talk to your yoga teacher about your issues with fibromyalgia.
- Read some yoga literature to understand the practice more.
- Go at your own pace and listen to your body.
- Talk to your doctor and therapist often to see the effects of yoga on symptoms.
Although there is no cure for fibromyalgia, its symptoms can be managed. Medication, diet, lifestyle changes, and now yoga can dramatically improve your quality of life and pain level. Talk to your doctor today and check out your area’s yoga studios to see if yoga can help you manage your fibromyalgia symptoms.
- “Exercise therapy for fibromyalgia” via Current Pain and Headache Reports
- “The Impact of a Daily Yoga Program for Women with Fibromyalgia” via International Journal of Yoga
- “Yoga therapy for fibromyalgia syndrome: A case report” via Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care
- “Impact of daily yoga-based exercise on pain, catastrophizing, and sleep amongst individuals with fibromyalgia” via Journal of Pain Research
- “Biological markers for the effects of yoga as a complementary and alternative medicine” via Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine