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Yoga and Fibromyalgia

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Fibromyalgia is a condition which often produces pain, fatigue, insomnia, headaches and other symptoms. It mainly affects muscles and their attachments to bones. The cycle of pain and other physical symptoms often leads to frustration, fear, anxiety and other forms of emotional upset. Among recommended treatments are moderate physical exercise that stretches muscles and improves cardiovascular fitness, and relaxation techniques.

For those coping with fibromyalgia, Yoga exercise, breathing and relaxation/meditation techniques offer many benefits. Yoga requires no special equipment and can be done throughout the day, a few techniques at a time, as needed to maintain energy and strength. Many techniques can be done in a chair, or even in bed.

Yoga exercises stretch and relax the major muscle groups and help release tension and fatigue. Exercises that involve compression are especially beneficial as they work to relax tight, sore muscles, stimulate circulation and the hormonal system, and push fresh oxygen throughout the body. In addition to strengthening and limbering the muscles, Yoga exercises leave one revitalized.

Yoga breathing exercises counteract fatigue and lethargy and help to reduce harmful stress reactions. Deep, rhythmic breathing helps to lift depression and reduces anxiety and inertia. In depression, the breath becomes more shallow and less oxygen is available to the brain. Both the breathing exercises and physical exercises (each with a particular breath pattern) increase the flow of oxygen in the blood and muscles, and to the brain.

In Yoga relaxation and meditation, the student learns to completely relax every muscle in the body and then to forget about the body while turning attention to the mind in meditation. By stopping all thought momentarily, the mind and body experience a rejuvenating break. One can also use meditation before bed to improve sleep patterns and to reduce dependency on drugs. Because fatigue and disturbances in the normal sleep cycle are common symptoms of fibromyalgia, daily meditation is especially helpful, as it provides the kind of deep rest that is often unattainable with normal sleep.

Regular practice of Yoga enhances physical, mental and emotional well-being, providing a solid support system while coping with fibromyalgia.

Courtesy of the American Yoga Association