May 12th is National Fibromyalgia Education and Awareness Day so fibromyalgia (FM) will be the focus of this blog. I have been working with yoga students who have FM since 1996*. This condition exhibits a broad array of symptoms and there is no cure, but yoga has been shown to be of great value in providing empowering tools for those with FM. My students leave class feeling better!
According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, more than 10 million people in the US are affected with this disorder. Chronic muscular pain and stiffness, aches, soft tissue tenderness, headaches, dizziness, nausea, cognitive impairment, general fatigue, disturbed sleep, and more characterize FM. Yoga, with its individualized approach, can address many of these issues by focusing on alignment, posture, balance, and relaxation techniques. Many with FM also have other medical conditions. These can include disk disease, sciatica and digestive disorders, to name a few. Therefore, it is important that FM students discuss what movements might not be appropriate for them with their doctor or therapist before beginning yoga or any exercise regimen.
Visualization is also a valuable tool for those with FM. It can be used to help improve breathing, sleep, awareness of posture and stress reduction. Stress is commonly accepted as contributing to the intensity of many disabilities and those with FM can certainly benefit from learning tools to help manage and cope with the difficulties resulting from their condition.
Learning to use the breath in ways that promote relaxation, stress reduction, a feeling of wellbeing can be beneficial as well. It is widely accepted that slowing the breath can help lower blood pressure, and various breathing techniques can provide an empowering method for alleviating some FM symptoms.
A simple pose that works on posture, visualization and breath is the Seated Mountain Pose (Tadasana). By aligning the pelvis and therefore the spine, and focusing on breath and visualizing its flow up and down the spine, this basic pose accomplishes a lot! I find that so many yoga teachers and even physical therapists don’t start with this foundation, yet it is a critical element of spinal alignment and hip joint movement, both of which affect posture and overall movement. Misalignment in this area, in turn, contributes general body pain, joint pain, and other FM symptoms.
I will go into further details on how to do Seated Mountain Pose in my next Blog so check it out. I’ll cover other poses, specific visualizations, and breathing techniques in future blogs.
On May 4, 2013 I will be offering a workshop for those with Fibromyalgia in San Luis Obispo, CA at the SLO Vets Hall from 10:30 am to 12 pm. Check my Calendar page for further details.
If you have any question or comments, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* In 2008 Rodmell Press published my book, Yoga for Fibromyalgia: Move, Breathe, and Relax to Improve Your Quality of Life. If you are interested, you can view in on Amazon.com by CLICKING HERE.