By Stacy Plamondon
I often get asked about how yoga has helped me manage my fibromyalgia. In fact, I get a lot of calls from people who have been advised by their doctors to start taking yoga classes to help with their fibromyalgia.
First, it probably makes sense to provide a medical definition of fibromyalgia. The Mayo Clinic defines Fibromyalgia as “a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals”. For those of you who suffer from fibromyalgia, I think we can agree the symptoms can range from annoying to even disabling, and we are searching for ways to manage these symptoms so we can live normal lives. Fortunately yoga can help with that!!
How Does Yoga Help Manage Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is not just about being in pain, it can heighten or magnify all the senses – my husband often says I complain about odors in the house that he can’t smell – and yoga helps with that as well. Just as yoga helps in the way your body processes pain, it also helps calm the increased sensitivity of your other senses.
Yoga can help with the pain associated with fibromyalgia. Taking yoga on a regular basis can help to lengthen the muscles, increase circulation, and improve the range of motion in your joints. These benefits of yoga can really help be part of your treatment to manage your symptoms.
Yoga can help with that thing doctors call “fibro fog” (this is a symptom of fibromyalgia that causes memory loss, trouble with focus, confusion which all can lead to anxiety). Yoga helps your body get out of the “fight or flight” mode by activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of the “rest -and-digest” activities of the body, the ones that keep our bodies functioning properly. In “fight or flight” mode we are always ready for action or in constant stress mode, this can really make your symptoms worse.
I am not saying yoga is the magic cure for fibromyalgia or to any condition for that matter; I still have hard days from time to time. Overall yoga has helped me to feel much better. Also through yoga I have met some wonderful people who also have fibromyalgia. This is really important because we can talk and understand each other. Sometimes I felt like I was crazy. I have had people tell me fibromalgia was not real or is just a label when doctors have no other explanation for your pain. But it is real. These people that tell us this don’t know how we feel, they do not suffer from the symptoms of fibromyalgia. I understand what you are going through and I believe yoga can really help.
For more information on the benefits of yoga for fibromyalgia, here are a couple references that may be worth checking out:
Catherine Guthrie wrote this article in the Yoga Journal entitled “Pain Reliever”.
Bill Hendrick had this article published in WebMD Health News entitled, Yoga Eases Fibromyalgia Pain in October of 2010.