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Yoga and Fibromyalgia

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Reprinted with the kind permission of Celeste Cooper.

The most important pieces of equipment
you need for doing yoga
are your body and your mind.
~Rodney Yee~

This ancient form of non-aerobic movement is beneficial for improving flexibility, strength, posture, and balance. Embracing universal spirituality is a great benefit. If you are Christian, you may find enhanced spirituality through “Holy Yoga.” The point is that as you meditate, you practice thoughts of healing and concentrate on the spiritual and physical connection you make.
There are different styles of yoga that teach you and your body how to shift your way of thinking about movement. The most familiar forms of yoga involve gentle movement and regular breathing exercises as one assumes different poses to help unblock energy (qi) restrictions. Some yoga practices also include visualization, progressive relaxation, and meditation.
By assuming various yoga postures (asanas) and practicing controlled breathing, it’s possible to achieve an altered state of mind. Focused breathing with Yoga increases oxygen and blood flow to the body’s organs improving circulation and healing. Many practitioners believe Yoga helps with regulation of the endocrine and nervous systems. 

Any good Yoga program, including do it at home DVDs, will encourage you to listen to your body, become connected with it, listen to it, and respect your body’s limits.  You can flow through the asanas as done in T'ai Chi or QiGong. The rhythmic movement is good for the muscles, the brain, arthritis, mindfulness, and many other things.?
Research shows that once you bring myofascial trigger points under control, it is important to maintain the muscle tissue. Yoga provides a good stretch, but holding postures can activate dormant/latent trigger points (see myofascial pain), so be sure to treat trigger points beforehand.  

If you are prone to strain/pain, spasm, and taut muscles, you are at risk. You can still do Yoga, but you will need to monitor postures closely, and do NOT hold positions; instead, move from one posture to another with fluid movement. One of my favorite postures is the child’s pose because as I breathe, I concentrate on the healthy feeling provided by stretching the muscles between the back ribs. If done right, and postures are modified with precautions in place, Yoga can provide the stretch necessary for unblocking energy flow and restoring balance to all the connective tissue in our body that can become stagnant.  

  • Wear comfortable clothing

  • Use a mat to prevent injury/slipping

  • Use bolsters, chairs, or other tools to help you stay within your body’s limits 

  • Warm up

  • Hydrate. 

Editor's Note:  It's important to listen to your body with any form of exercise and often beneficial to discuss a new exercise regimen with your healthcare provider.  For additional information about exercise in general and yoga in particular, check out the following articles:

Celeste Cooper, RN, is a frequent contributor to ProHealth.  She is an advocate, writer and published author, and a person living with chronic pain. Celeste is lead author of Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain and Broken Body, Wounded Spirit, and Balancing the See Saw of Chronic Pain (a four book series). She spends her time enjoying her family and the rewards she receives from interacting with nature through her writing and photography. You can learn more about Celeste’s writing, advocacy work, helpful tips, and social network connections at

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