While fibromyalgia can be a real challenge, maintaining a mindful lifestyle goes a long way in managing its symptoms. Here are some yoga tips for dealing with fibromyalgia to help you stay present and prioritize your wellness and happiness.
1. Get moving.
For many of us who suffer from fibromyalgia, moving is one of the hardest tasks to do sometimes. Those of us who are afflicted face many days of painful inflammation, where the fear of moving and aggravating the senses in the body is one of the darkest and most agonizing moments.
The biggest “dose” of medicine is the prescription of just moving. Moving helps the muscles say hello to the nerves. They may be arguing at first, but soon they will sort out their grievances. So how does one get over the fear of moving in order to practice yoga asana? It starts with one simple breath.
Breathing is one of the most important elements to those with fibromyalgia. Whether just sitting or taking basic yoga positions, you can allow yourself to feel very at ease through the posture when you breathe.
What’s more, breathing allows for the nourishment of oxygen to fill the spaces around your discomfort. It allows us to focus on something other than our nervous system freak-outs. Breathing allows concentrated effort to occur in the very action of yoga.
3. Take it slow.
One of the most stressful situations someone diagnosed with fibromyalgia faces when practicing yoga is being made to move overly fast. The fear of movement, the fear of falling, and the fear of holding a posture for too long all come to fore, which can be extremely harmful both emotionally and physically.
Taking more of the slow movements of Hatha yoga (heated or not) or Restorative yoga allows you to feel like you can keep up with the class or the instructor and gain personal strength with the combination of breath and movement.
4. Stop pressuring yourself.
It is frustrating enough to suffer with the constant body pain in fibromyalgia. Don’t be hard on yourself if you feel like you are not accelerating at faster pace. Each person heals differently and at different paces. Not everyone can move through to a Headstand, and not everyone finds Down Dog comfortable.
Yoga is not a competition—not with yourself, and not with the person next to you. All you can do is show up, be present, and live in the moment.
5. Let go of excuses.
Not wearing name brand yoga gear or the fact that you are not a morning person should not prevent you from practicing. It is also important not to have assumptions about your practice each time you take to the mat. If you assume something will hurt, you will limit yourself.
Instead, try it, and if it hurts come back to it later. Yoga will always be there. If it continues to hurt, and you have been practicing for months, come at it from different angle, or get off the mat completely! New perspectives and perceptions help us achieve our yoga flow in new ways.
Your thinking is just as much of an aid to your wellness as is consistency in your practice.
6. Reflect on the experience.
Reflecting on one’s likes and dislikes is super helpful to individuals who suffer from fibromyalgia.
Evaluating your dislikes helps you recognize areas to work on in stages. Evaluating your likes helps you realize that you can do the practice, and more importantly that you can still feel the happy natural endorphins from moving, despite the threat of pain.
7. Always be open with your medical provider regarding your practice.
Whether you see a general practitioner or a naturopath, it is critical for you to have a constant dialog with your medical provider about the movements you are doing.
Not only does their medical supervision guide your overall health in practicing your yoga, it helps to receive validation from them whenever you make little successes in your movements.
8. Be satisfied that you tried.
Those who suffer from fibromyalgia are not appreciative enough of the fact that they tried. If it is 10 minutes to 90 minutes, that is a beautiful practice. Each day will be different for a fibromyalgia sufferer; it is a real experience each time stepping onto the mat.
Being satisfied that you tried, and succeeded (however small or large your achievement), allows the mental anxiety of the pain to dissipate just a bit, which also helps the body with the distribution of happy endorphins.
9. Love yourself.
Yoga is not just about the movement or asana. It is about the lifestyle: the breathing, the healing, the theory, the community, the self-care, and the asana, which is deeply rooted in love of self.
Love of self is not egoism, but rather, care that you are trying to be the best human possible. The demonstration of self-love through the practice of yoga is a deeply-seeded energy that radiates to everyone around you.