If you are suffering from fibromyalgia, it can be hard to get yourself moving, but movement and exercise are key ways to help manage and minimize pain. Practicing yoga daily can help. Yoga targets not only the body but also the mind and can offer multiple benefits by using yoga for fibromyalgia pain.
The first benefit of yoga for fibromyalgia pain is keeping the muscles flexible.
One of the hallmarks of fibromyalgia is muscle tightness and stiffness. Easy stretches for large muscles can prevent those muscles from seizing up or feeling stagnant. Even practicing a gentle forward fold with knees bent and chest relaxed onto the thighs can wake up tight hamstrings and back muscles. A wide-legged forward fold on the ground opens up hips, and lunges keep hip flexors mobile. Warm muscles that stay flexible are muscles that are less prone to contraction, and that can help manage fibro pain.
Yoga also helps improve spinal alignment.
When joints and tendons are aching, the impulse might be to hunch over or cradle them to decrease the pain. Yoga helps teach people how to properly align their skeletal systems so that the entire body is properly supported. The skeleton, wrapped in muscle and tendon, is beautifully designed to support the weight of the body. If something is out of alignment, pain and stiffness is usually the result. Yoga helps re-align the body for better support and pain relief.
In addition to flexibility and spinal alignment, gentle, consistent yoga helps keep muscles strong, and strong muscles provide more support. Strong muscles help increase stamina so daily tasks are not as difficult. Yoga can be gentle and does not need to be hot, intense, or fast-paced to have muscle strengthening benefits. Even seated yoga that increases core and back strength can help with fibro pain.
The final (and arguably most important) benefit of yoga for fibromyalgia pain is mental.
Research shows that yoga increases quality sleep, reduces stress, and calms both mind and body. Yoga helps manage stress by regulating stress hormones with daily practice, and intense yoga produces endorphins, the feel-good hormones in the brains that boost mood.
You can begin your practice with a simple routine. This can be modified using blocks or props. Stretches can be intense but should not exacerbate or cause pain. Work slowly, and do what you can. Managing fibromyalgia pain through yoga is possible, but listen to your body as you exercise and back off if it is too much.
What simple exercises have helped you manage your fibromyalgia pain?
Image by Jean Henrique Wichinoski via Flickr