The Benefits of Yoga for Fibromyalgia
Exercising when suffering from fibromyalgia isn’t usually easy. However, this doesn’t mean that the person should resign themself to a totally sedentary lifestyle. On the contrary, they should be evaluating options that help them to stay as active and healthy as possible. This is where the benefits of yoga for fibromyalgia come into play.
Fibromyalgia is a complex disease and one could even say that it’s somewhat capricious. It has no clear origin, but is known to affect several body systems and produce a wide variety of symptoms. In addition, these can vary in intensity, usually due to external stimuli (for example, the weather) or internal ones (emotional stress).
For some years, it has become more and more common to hear about yoga as a positive activity for fibromyalgia, and experts are starting to actively encourage this. Not only because it helps them manage emotional stress and alleviate their anxiety or depression, but because it can provide much more than that.
Yoga for fibromyalgia
As the American College of Rheumatology explains, the treatment for fibromyalgia doesn’t only has a pharmacological approach, but also includes other measures to improve the patients’ quality of life. One of them is exercise. For this reason, they state the following:
“Physical exercise should be included in any treatment with medication. The greatest benefit comes from regular aerobic exercise. Other body-based treatments, such as tai chi and yoga, can relieve symptoms. Although you may have pain, low impact physical exercise won’t be harmful”.
Main benefits associated with the practice of yoga
Yoga is a discipline that helps to work flexibility, balance, coordination, reduce blood pressure, release emotional and physical tension, and even improve digestive health, according to experts from Medline Plus.
According to the results of a pilot study published in 2019, yoga can:
- Reduce the perception of pain
- Improve sleep quality
- Reduce negative thoughts, which are typical of anxiety
The same study also found that the more regularly they practiced yoga at home, the more well-being the participants seemed to enjoy. By sticking to certain exercise routines or receiving training from an instructor online, there are considerable benefits.
In a study published in 2020, the following benefits of yoga for fibromyalgia were highlighted:
- Greater flexibility
- Decreased pain
- Increased muscle strength
- Decrease in muscle fatigue
- Better quality of sleep (above all, it helps rest at nighttime and reduces daytime sleepiness). Experts consider that this is due to increased parasympathetic activity and decreased sympathetic activation.
- A greater sense of well-being and better quality of life.
Combining the benefits of yoga for fibromyalgia with other activities that have an aerobic component (swimming, gym, bicycle, dance) can greatly contribute to well-being, as confirmed by the guide prepared by the experts of the Spanish Society of Rheumatology.
Begin yoga practice
Dr. Jaime Rivera, rheumatologist and fibromyalgia specialist, believes that the best thing is to take part in exercise on a regular basis. In addition, he states the following:
- You don’t need to go to a personal trainer or a specialized center to exercise; neither do you need to invest a lot of money in special equipment. It can easily be carried out at home, with just a mat.
- You don’t need to do an hour or two’s exercise every day. Ideally, set aside half an hour a day and make the most of that time.
- Stretching is recommended for day-to-day exercise, but should always be combined with aerobic exercises and moderate-intensity exercises.
- The patient can start with a simple, gentle routine and then go for a little more intensity as their physical condition improves, and they start to gain confidence.
- Yoga is a recommended option, but the ideal approach is to combine it with aerobic exercise to achieve a good physical condition and maintain it over time.
All these recommendations are also endorsed by other specialists and institutions specialized in fibromyalgia, including The ME / CFS and Fibromyalgia Self-Help Program.
It’s true that physical discomfort isn’t always easy to cope with. However, if you follow the treatment prescribed by the doctor and maintain a healthy lifestyle, with discipline and patience, then it’s possible to learn how to do it well, and, of course, improve your quality of life.
Taking moments every day to relax and unwind is recommended, but up to a point. Unless your doctor tells you so, it isn’t necessary to stay in bed and stop all physical activity.
Experts highly recommend trying to develop a personalized exercise routine, which allows you to take advantage of the benefits of yoga for fibromyalgia, or other alternatives.
Keep in mind that routines can always be modified and adapted to the needs that arise. If you are currently suffering from outbreaks of fibromyalgia then try to establish a simpler and easier to follow routine. Keep in regular contact with your doctor to design the best routine for you.