Via CNN: A new study shows that yoga can help fibromyalgia patients relieve symptoms like pain, fatigue and stiffness by 30 percent, while cutting down dependency on prescription drugs, which just on their own have a long list of disturbing side effects. Side effects of yoga? Improved quality of life!
The study, conducted at the Oregon Health and Science University, in Portland, involved 53 women who had been living with fibromyalgia for a year or more. The patients were instructed to continue their regular regimen OR participate in a weekly 2-hour low impact yoga session. The yoga group was also provided instructional DVDs and encouraged to practice at home every day.
“Exercise is often recommended, but many fibromyalgia patients find that exercise is too painful to continue or that the classes aren’t tailored for them,” says James Carson, Ph.D., lead researcher and psychologist.
As for the yoga, Dr. Carson and his colleagues developed a class called “Yoga of Awareness.” in which patients spent 40 minutes moving through typical hatha yoga poses like warrior 1 and child’s pose, and another 80 minutes on meditation, breathing exercises, and group discussions about coping with pain. And with great results!
While this was a relatively small study, and needs to be expanded (maybe to include some guys next time) it still opens doors for further research on just how yoga can benefit those living with disease, so that maybe soon the skeptics will say ‘Why not?’ instead of ‘No way.’ It’s a start!
And because scientists are scientists and doctors are doctors they want to know the why and how. And don’t we just love them for it.
“We believe that it probably changes [central nervous system] responses to pain signals,” says Carson, who is planning a larger study on exactly how yoga works.
Further reading: Yoga for Fibromyalgia by Shoosh Lettick Crotzer
article: Managing Fibromyalgia by Timothy McCall, M.D.
I have a hard time finding an inexpensive yoga class. I joined a gym and the yoga class was so “active” I had to quit. I would love to join a yoga class like the one you mention above. Most people with fibro don’t have a lot of extra money because of medical care and/or being on disability. I wish there were more resources.
A community center or a wellness center might by your best bet for less expensive classes. There is even support centers that offer yoga at not cost. In the studio I teach at we offer one Hatha class, and two meditation classes a week by Donation. So, you might be able to find some studios that do this. Stay with basic or gentle classes and restorative. All my best!
Thanks for posting this.
@Katharine, it might be hard to find a group class tailored to fybromyalgia, but what about a restorative yoga class at a studio?
Yes, great article… thanks!
Leanne… yes, restorative is your best bet if you have fybromyalgia. You want a style that is going to calm down your nervous system, so the body can go into ‘heal’ mode.
That said, you can try a gentle hatha flow class that is at a beginner level and simply be aware of your limits. The body will also respond very nicely to gentle stretching.
Katharine – you might find a Yin Yoga class to be helpful. Your goal should be to move slowly into a pose, until you start to feel the slightest stretch — hold the pose there until the tension releases before moving deeper into the pose.
Interestingly enough, I just completed my anatomy paper on Yoga and FMS for my 200 hr RYT. Irony of ironies… I could’ve used another source.
Thanks for posting. My dad has been living with fibromyalgia for many years. As a yoga teacher, I know the healing the aspects that yoga can provide, but he doesn’t always listen. Restorative and gentle is the way to go. I’m hoping your article helps to sway him. Sometimes an objective source can be the most influential.
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