The 3 Best and Worst Styles of Yoga for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

Are you thinking of adding more yoga to your healthcare routine this year?

Yoga can help manage the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia and provide self-care strategies for those who have nowhere else to turn.  But there are so many different types of yoga and yoga classes that when a sick gal decides she wants to give it a whirl – she can get lost in a sea of yoga.  What styles of yoga and types of classes should you look for when trying out a new yoga class?

The Best styles of yoga for chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia

1. Restorative yoga for chronic illness

Restorative yoga really is as nice as it sounds. It involves a lot of props for ultimate relaxation, and most classes take place sitting or lying on the floor. In some classes, you will be holding poses for 20 minutes at a time with the sole focus to be finding rest. Taking this class after one (or several) bad night's sleep is like a fresh scoop of ice cream on a boiling summer day.

Restorative yoga for chronic fatigue

Reclining butterfly pose with props for a restorative yoga class.

2. Restorative flow yoga for chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia

This type of class is a slow-moving flow and allows a lot of time for modifications and restorative poses. This class is not recommended for those who are bed-bound as it does require both seated and standing poses. For those who do have some level of fitness, a class like this can teach you how to move your body mindfully without setting off a regression.

restorative flow yoga chronic illness

Child's pose flows from a restorative flow class.

3. Yin yoga for chronic illness

If you love deep stretching this is the class for you. Yin yoga focuses on getting a deeper tissue stretch for increased flexibility and gets into the parts of our bodies we don't usually stretch.

shoelace fold yin yoga

A shoelace forward fold from a yin yoga class

Runner Up: Chair Yoga. While it is doubtful you will see this at a studio, a quick search on Amazon will give you a few nice options for DVD's. This is a great option for those who are bed-bound and would like to add a small amount of movement to their day.

The worst types of yoga for chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia

1. Bikram Yoga and chronic illness

Despite its' scandalous past, Bikram remains a popular type of Yoga. While your experience will depend on your instructor, Bikram can sometimes feel more like a gymnastics class in a heated room than a Yoga class. It is more athletic than other types of Yoga, and the only school of Yoga that promotes competition. I don't recommend this style of yoga for chronic illness.

2. Power Yoga and chronic fatigue

This is the counter style to restorative flow yoga. It is aimed at athletes, and those looking to get a cardio workout from their yoga class. Not recommended for anyone that does not already have a moderate level of fitness.

3. Ashtanga Yoga and chronic illness

While most vinyasa flow classes (including restorative flow classes) are based on the Ashtanga sequences, most Ashtanga classes will be too energetically challenging for this with a chronic illness. The postures focus on building strength and flexibility, but classes are often aimed at those who already have a certain level of fitness.

Have you tried any of these types of Yoga? Do you have anything to add to the list?

best and worst styles of yoga for chronic illness


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14 Responses

  1. Good to know. I've often wondered which types of yoga might be best to try. Restorative flow yoga sounds most appealing to me!
    • That is my favourite right now! If you are having trouble finding it just let a vinyasa flow teacher know you would like a very modified class :)
  2. I have done Hatha Yoga, although I've had to adapt a lot of the poses. But I have a spinal fusion and degenerative disease in my cervical spine, so obviously head stands are out! I love it. I get a terrific stretch, which feels sooo good, it calms my mind and reduces muscle tension, plus I get some strengthening benefits.
    • It's great that you find adaptions that work for you! Hatha can be similar to restorative flow or gentle flow which is just a lovely pace for a class. I love the strengthening benefits as well! When you've had to limit your movement for an extended period of time there is nothing like feeling your muscles grow ;)
  3. I like restorative yoga. The heated room yoga (bikram?) is awful for me and makes me extremely symptomatic. I have not tried yin yoga, but sounds like something I might like! Thanks for sharing!
    • Hot rooms can be very tricky and depend a lot on your body type. Yin was the first form of slow/restorative yoga that I found so it has a special place in my heart!
  4. Restorative yoga has been great for me. Draped over two bolsters is a lovely, opening, restful pose - one of my favourites.
  5. I've been considering trying yoga, but didn't know if it would fit with my illness, so this post was really helpful. thanks :)
    • Glad to be of help! Let me know if you have any other questions about starting yoga!
  6. Avatar Pepper
    I have always wondered which would be best. Thank you for the info!
    • Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any other questions about yoga and CFS!
  7. I've recently written a post about Yoga Nidra (yogi sleep, or yoga for the mind). I'd like to try restorative yoga but even that looks too demanding. Can you recommend any YouTube links?
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  9. This 3 best and worst styles of yoga for chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia that we should know. This would be a huge help. Thanks for sharing this great article.

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