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Yoga For Fibromyalgia

   By: Leela Fraser

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is a physical and mental practice that involves the body, mind, and spirit. The practice, originating in India, is designed to enhance awareness, create a mind-body-spirit balance, and (as often practiced today in the US) to improve fitness. The most common form practiced in the United States is Hatha Yoga, which includes specific movements or postures (asanas), deep breathing (pranayama), and sometimes meditation (dhyana).

Gentle, mindful, and controlled movements can provide a non-impact or low-impact workout for people in almost any physical condition, especially helpful for patients suffering from fibromyalgia. Specific exercises, or asanas, ease tense muscles; improve flexibility; and enhance strength, balance, and endurance.

What Are The Origins Of This ancient Art?

There is no set date when this great ancient art-science began, but it goes back thousands of years. Stone carvings in the Indus Valley depicting yoga postures date back over 5,000 years. Traditionally, yoga was a spiritual practice, its goal being union with the Absolute or Divine. The various exercises associated with Hatha Yoga were performed to prepare the body for long periods of meditation. The word “yoga” means to join or unite together, and the practice joins together the body, mind, and spirit. The practice is often associated with Hinduism, but pre-dates the religion. As have other religions, Hinduism has incorporated elements of this art into its practices.

Yoga is now practiced around the world for its psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. According to results of a study sponsored by the Yoga Journal, released in June 2003, 15 million Americans, or over seven percent of US adults, practiced some form of this exercise form.

Yoga For Fibromyalgia?

The gentle exercise form can be practiced by almost anyone. The beauty of this exercise form is that it is not necessary to be able to do all the postures; the fibromyalgia patient can work within their own limitations, and tailor the practice to their specific needs. It is best for the fibromyalgia patient to take group or private yoga classes. There are several books and videos on yoga, but patients should supplement their practice with what is learned in a class. Yoga classes can provide a better understanding of the yoga practice, especially use of particular postures that are beneficial for the fibromyalgia condition.

Before the first class, the patient may consider observing a yoga session. Does the teacher and the pace of the class feel right? There are many classes and teachers from which to choose, it is important to find a teacher that feels right. Make sure the instructor has experience dealing with fibromyalgia.

What Are The Health Benefits?

The practice has obvious benefits relating to stress reduction, flexibility, and relaxation. But as more studies are conducted, there is evidence of other tangible health benefits. This art form is an effective adjunct therapy for a variety of conditions including: fibromyalgia, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, depression, back disorders, and headaches, to name a few. Regular practice helps improve strength, flexibility, coordination, and range of motion. The practice promotes relaxation by improving circulation, reducing stress and anxiety; and enhances cardiovascular health, benefiting the respiratory and nervous systems. The state of relaxation felt from practicing yoga also aids sleep, a common problem in FM Syndrome.

There are many physiological benefits such as stress reduction and relaxation when practicing this art form. Many health problems are triggered or aggravated by stress, stress-reduction helps with the symptoms of FMS. The practice releases endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. Pain-Eze along with breathing exercises will expediate the recovery of fibromyalgia symptoms.

Exercise, Breathing, And Meditation - How Do They Help?

Asanas - Exercises/Postures - Asanas are postures which stretch, strengthen, and relax the major muscle groups - helping to release tension and fatigue. Postures that involve compression are beneficial exercises, since they work to relax tight, sore muscles; stimulate the circulatory and hormonal systems; and replenish fresh oxygen throughout the body. Pranayama - Breathing Exercises - Breathing exercises counteract fatigue and lethargy, helping to reduce harmful stress reactions. Deep, rhythmic breathing helps to lift depression, and reduce anxiety and inertia, common issues with those suffering from fibromyalgia. During depression the breath becomes more shallow and less oxygen is available to the brain. Both breathing exercises and physical exercises (each with a particular breath pattern) increase the flow of oxygen in the blood, muscles, and to the brain.

Dhayana - Meditation - Through meditation the patient learns to completely relax every muscle in the body, to forget about the body, turning the attention to the mind. By momentarily stopping all thoughts, the mind and body experience a rejuvenating break. Meditation practice is extremely beneficial before going to sleep, improving fibromyalgia sleep patterns, reducing the dependency on sleep induced drugs. Fatigue, stress and sleep disturbances, common symptoms of fibromyalgia, can be balanced through daily meditation practice, allowing patients to get the kind of deep rest that is often unattainable with normal sleep. Meditation can be described as the technique of sitting in stillness, stilling the mind and the body. Even as little as ten minutes every day will greatly improve the symptoms of FM.

The regular practice enhances the physical, mental, and emotional well-being, providing a solid support system for coping with symptoms of FMS.

What Are Safe Asanas - Postures?

Downward Facing Dog
Knee to Chest

Leela is the Editor for:

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