Does Yoga Help Fibromyalgia Pain?

Chronic pain sufferers are starting to try yoga for fibromyalgia. But does yoga help fibromyalgia pain? Many people swear by yoga. Doctors are starting to recommend it to their patients living with fibro. But is yoga for fibromyalgia really all it’s cracked up to be? In this article, I’ve gathered personal stories and scientific studies about yoga for fibromyalgia. You can now make an informed decision about trying yoga to help fibromyalgia pain!
Personal Stories: 

Christine  began suffering from fibro over 13 years ago. After 5 years of searching for medical treatments, she finally decided to try an alternative therapy: yoga. Though Christine had made diet changes, her yoga class was the first time she felt a shift in her symptoms. She describes how yoga helped her come to terms with her health:

“What I noticed in the beginning, was the sheer terror I had about going into my body after I’d spent so many years running away from it,” she recalls. “It helped me to accept my life with fibromyalgia.” Full story published in Yoga Journal.

Sarah  went to her first yoga class on crutches. She had been bed-bound for two years, but decided that she needed to do something to take care of herself and her body. Like Christine’s story, Sarah’s decision to try yoga was prompted by self-love and self-acceptance:

“Fine. This is my life right now. Pain. Closing her eyes, she tried to accept her situation. This time, the field of pain, which had been unrelenting for years, changed shape.”  In the beginning, all Sarah could do was drive to yoga class, lie down on the mat, and drive home again. At first, she began to do restorative poses. Then added in more active poses, and can now do  a headstand! Sarah now feels  recovered and teaches yoga to others with FM. Full story posted on yoga international.

Carol has lived with fibromyalgia for over 20 years. She began with meditation but found the stretches in yoga helped her sit in meditation for longer periods of time. Carol finds that yoga helps relieve pain symptoms, as well as improve sleep. Most importantly, yoga has allowed Carol to spend more time playing with her four grandchildren. Full story published on health.usnews.

The Research:

Yoga therapist, Ginger Wood, documents a case study of one of her patients living with fibromyalgia. Ginger created an 18-month program for her student and found that yoga helped reduce pain and the need for medications. The results for this case are pretty inspiring, I recommend that you check out the full article on ProHealth.com!

Ginger only had one student, but this study measured results for 53 women who participated in an 8-week yoga program. Participants met once a week for 2 hours. Encouragingly, this bigger study found positive results after only 8 weeks! Participants in the program reported reduced levels of fibromyalgia pain and improved sleep.

This next study  had 11 participants and found similar results as our previous two studies. After 8 weeks in a yoga program, participants reported a reduction in pain, anxiety, and depression.

Conclusion

Does yoga help fibromyalgia pain?

The personal stories and research on yoga for fibromyalgia are promising. Based on small sample sizes, it seems like the answer the question: does yoga help fibromyalgia pain? Is yes, it can help relieve pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia. But, fibromyalgia affects everyone differently. And there has still not been a large scale study done on yoga for fibromyalgia. So while this research is inspiring, it’s so important for people with fibromyalgia to listen to their bodies and find what works for them. I’d recommend starting with a slow and gentle yoga class to see if yoga is right for you! If you want a free video to try with, I have a free 20 minute video available here!

Have you tried yoga? Has it helped with your fibromyalgia pain? Let me know in the comments!

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2 Responses

  1. I know yoga helps. But it got hard when pain & fatigue got really bad this year.. I know my problem is always being an overachiever. I start with a plan to move slowly but I automatically push myself to do as much as my body can stand or more. Usually more. Then I burn out & quit. I'm about to start physical therapy. I'm hoping to begin a habit during that time. Maybe start a blog to create some accountability for myself.
    • Thanks for your comment, Becky! I think being an overachiever is a big problem for a lot of people in yoga, especially those with fibro and CFS! I know so many people who were high achievers before getting ill which makes the illness all that more frustrating. And as someone who did a lot of competitive sports getting ill it was definitely a challenge not to try to push myself in yoga. I think the first step is not being so hard on yourself for pushing to far sometimes 😂. The more you notice yourself doing this, the more you can begin to go a bit easier, and catch it before you push yourself too hard, with self talk like "I know I want to go further, but I also know I'll feel sick after if I do, so let's just hang out in child's pose". You can also choose classes like yin, restorative, or therapeutic so that you don't even have the option to push too far! Physical therapy sounds like a great idea, as does a blog! Keep us posted on how that all goes! Sending love xx

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