Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by:
- pain throughout the body over an extended period of time
- inability to sleep well
- cloudy thinking
- reduced ability to function in activities of daily life
Scientists are still trying to figure out what causes fibromyalgia and how to provide help to those who suffer from it.
A 2010 study indicates that a Yoga program incorporating asanas, pranayama, and meditation may reduce pain and fatigue, elevate mood, and improve coping skills in fibromyalgia sufferers. This year, another study reported that Yoga classes can decrease pain, increase acceptance of pain, and alter levels of cortisol.
The latest study of Yoga for fibromyalgia appears in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy. Eleven people found relief from stiffness, anxiety, and depression. They reported more days of feeling good and fewer days of missed work, effects that reached statistical significance. Participants also reported less pain and fatigue overall, but the latter didnt register as significant with statistical analysis.
To achieve these results, subjects met once per week for eight weeks. Each class session lasted for 75-minutes and included 10-minutes of initial calming breath work with meditation followed by 15-minutes of group sharing and learning about current theories and therapies for fibromyalgia. The asana portion of the class was 35-minutes in length and incorporated several postures including:
- gentle surya namaskar (sun salutations)
- tadasana (mountain)
- vrksasana (tree)
- setu bandha sarvangasana (bridge)
- supta virasana (reclining hero)
- supta baddha konasana (reclining bound angle)
- marjariasana (cat)
- adho mukha svanasana (downward-facing dog)
- supta padangusthasana (reclining big-toe)
- balasana (child)
Each class ended with a 15-minute guided meditation in savasana.
This latest study didnt have a control group, and therefore results may have been placebo or the result of increased social interaction and sharing as group therapy. Still, taken together, these three studies of Yoga-based programs are promising.
Several types of exercise have been shown to be beneficial for fibromyalgia. It makes sense that combining asanas, a form of exercise, with meditation (which has been shown to relieve depression, a significant component of the syndrome) can provide significant relief from symptoms.
If you have fibromyalgia, you can feel better with a conscious practice of Yoga. Take care not to overdo it at first. Practice asanas gently and bring daily meditation into your life if you have not done so already. You have the right and the power to heal, and Yoga can help you do just that.
Yoga promotes a healthy diet low in inflammation-causing triggers. It helps to re-condition muscles that are often de-conditioned in people with fibromyalgia. It facilitates the reprogramming of stress circuits, and it teaches an acceptance of, and a willingness to learn from, pain and other stressful experiences. If you suffer from fibromyalgia pain, please give Yoga a try.