When you live with fibromyalgia pain or any chronic pain, you know how hard it is to keep it successfully under control and find adequate pain relief.
But did you know that yoga may be able to help? In this blog post, we'll discuss the benefits of restorative yoga for fibromyalgia pain. We'll also provide a few tips on how to get started. So read on to learn more!
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It can be a challenge to exercise when you live with fibromyalgia. However, many studies and empirical evidence have shown that exercise can improve fibromyalgia pain.
Yoga, specifically Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra (yoga sleep) are two of the best types of yoga for fibromyalgia. They elicit the relaxation response in the body to counteract tumultuous and damaging chronic stress. Relaxation reduces the effects of stress on the body and facilities a natural healing environment.
UNDERSTANDING FIBROMYALGIA PAIN
Fibromyalgia pain is often constant, with flare-ups of increased intensity that can last days, weeks, or months, possibly even years.
You may describe your pain as being on and off, constant, aching or burning, dull or sharp; all these descriptions are known as your pain history.
However, pain is very subjective and personal, and one person might experience pain in the same part of the body by the same condition differently from another person.
Fibromyalgia symptoms differ for each person, and fibromyalgia pain can manifest itself differently from person to person.
In addition, each person with fibromyalgia has a different perception of pain and how it affects their life. These differences are why finding the proper fibromyalgia treatment for each individual with fibromyalgia is challenging.
TREATMENT FOR FIBROMYALGIA
With the chronic pain experienced with fibromyalgia, treatment is not to remove the pain entirely, as this may not be possible.
However, some treatments can help improve mobility, help achieve everyday activities, decrease the intensity and frequency of fibromyalgia pain, and improve life quality.
It can be a trial and error type of process, finding the treatments that work best together to improve your day-to-day life.
WHAT IS RESTORATIVE YOGA?
Restorative yoga is a gentle, slower form of yoga. Compared to other forms of yoga, which move quickly from one pose to the next, you will hold each pose for considerably longer.
Holding poses for longer is excellent for building up your strength and flexibility, giving you time to adjust and stretch through each pose. It also gives you more time to breathe during the pose and relax your muscles more.
Restorative yoga is a gentle yoga ideal for people with fibromyalgia pain. It can invoke the body's relaxation response to counteract chronic stress, exacerbating Fibromyalgia pain and other Fibromyalgia symptoms such as fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and insomnia.
Relaxation reduces stress effects on the body and instead facilities a natural healing environment.
This yoga practice was inspired by B.K.S Iyengar from India and perfected by Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., an American physiotherapist and notable figure in American yoga circles.
Restorative yoga aims to balance breathing, circulation, energy, and organs within your body to bring your central nervous system to a very relaxed and calm state.
The idea is that when your central nervous system is balanced, calm, and extremely relaxed, you will benefit by having your fibromyalgia pain significantly reduced.
BENEFITS OF RESTORATIVE YOGA:
Reduced joint and muscle stiffness
Improved energy and stamina
Acceptance and mental and emotional peace
A greater sense of well-being
Mindfulness improves your ability to listen to your body's needs.
Greater physical comfort
HOW DOES RESTORATIVE YOGA WORK?
As with yoga, restorative yoga uses specific poses, but various props also provide comfort to support and promote relaxation. Each pose is linked to a particular system within your body.
There are even specific restorative yoga classes and poses designed for people suffering from chronic illnesses and poses that aim to alleviate head and back pain.
Restorative yoga aims to unlearn chronic stress and pain responses and retrain the mind to healthier healing responses.
Unlike other yoga styles in restorative yoga, the poses are held for 10 minutes or longer. These poses are long to attain a complete state of relaxation and elicit the relaxation response with gentle yoga poses and conscious breathing.
Beneficial restorative yoga poses for fibromyalgia include:
YOGA BLOCKS TO SUPPORT YOUR BODY
There are quite a few tools and accessories you can use in restorative yoga, especially when you are just starting. Blocks aren't just for beginners, though. There are many benefits to using yoga blocks, including stabilizing your body during poses, gentling achieving poses with less effort, and learning advanced poses.
Yoga blocks are an excellent tool to use if you need a little help with flexibility during poses when you start to learn yoga for fibromyalgia.
Yoga blocks are especially beneficial for restorative yoga, as they help support your body to relax into longer poses and help you achieve deep stretching.
Yoga blocks are available in various sizes; they are soft to the touch but sturdy enough to be used in different poses. Most blocks are made of foam to be easy on your joints.
There are several ways to use yoga blocks, but the primary function is to help you balance your body while doing yoga. This can be especially helpful when doing restorative yoga poses for fibromyalgia.
HOW TO FIND A RESTORATIVE YOGA CLASS
When you start your yoga journey, taking a class with an experienced instructor is a great idea. Classes can help you learn the poses correctly and make modifications depending on your fibromyalgia pain, energy levels, mobility, and other considerations.
Look online for a restorative yoga class at a nearby yoga studio or a community center to learn from a yoga instructor. Always check for certification to ensure they are qualified and experienced as instructors.
Also, consider calling the instructor to discuss your abilities and limitations with fibromyalgia so they will be aware of making any necessary accommodations for you during the class.
If you haven't tried yoga before, look for a starter class specifically for people trying yoga for the very first. It's worthwhile to take your time and do a little research to find a suitable yoga class for you.
You'll notice that the environment is very relaxing in a restorative yoga class; it's a supportive space to practice yoga and relieve stress.
Don’t be shy to bring your yoga block to class – even advanced yogis use blocks from time to time. Also, remember some of the basics, like your mat, towel, water bottle, and a light snack just in case you need it.
If you don't have access to yoga classes, there are many instructional yoga lessons available online, which you can learn at home. Look for a yoga lesson precisely for relaxation or chronic pain.
Consult with your doctor or physiotherapist before attending yoga classes or practicing at home for the first time.