Yoga For Fibromyalgia: Research Shows Yoga Can Help Manage Symptoms

One of the biggest frustrations of living with an illness like Fibromyalgia is that so little is known about how to manage and treat the disease. One of my frustrations as a yoga instructor is the lack of research that goes into using yoga therapeutically. Especially when there is so much anecdotal evidence that yoga can be used to improve a lot of  illnesses. So whenever I come across scientific research that includes both of these areas I get really excited and want to share it with all of you! This study was done back in 2010, but is still relevant and has been the basis for further study on the area of yoga for Fibromyalgia treatment.

What You Need To Know

After an 8-week yoga program, patients with Fibromyalgia reported lower levels of pain, fatigue, and stiffness and improved levels of mood and sleep. The yoga program also helped patients improve balance, memory, and reduce anxiety. Compared to patients that received the standard of care for Fibromyalgia from their healthcare practitioners, the participants of the yoga program improved significantly. The results were both statistically and clinically significant. This means that not only did the numbers line up to show that yoga helped the patients, but the patients self-reported a noticeable improvement on their daily functioning.

The participants met once a week for the group yoga session, and were also encouraged to develop a home practice. The commitment of the participants to do the yoga at home was cited as a factor in the beneficial effects the patients got from doing yoga. This is becoming a popular sentiment in the yoga community- a daily practice of 10-15 minutes trumps a weekly practice of one hour!

The Study

53 women with Fibromyalgia were divided into two groups. One group participated in the yoga program where the others did the standard treatment for Fibromyalgia. The 2 hour classes included 40 minutes of gentle stretching poses, 25 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of breathing techniques, 20 minutes of lecture, and 25 minutes of group discussions. Participants were asked to keep diaries during the program, and also rate their pain levels before and after each class.

Now What? 

Studies like this are important for yoga therapists and people living with Fibromyalgia. We need to support studies like this so that more research can be done to help guide treatment in this area. There are many different styles of yoga and yoga poses. As we start to see more research into this area, we can pin down which styles, techniques, and postures bring the most benefits to people living with chronic conditions like Fibromyalgia.

It’s really exciting for me to see more research going into eastern medicine traditions! Our two medical worlds can learn a lot from each other, particularly in finding treatments for conditions like Fibromyalgia, where western medical care does not have the resources or research to support patients living with this debilitating disease.

If you want to give yoga for Fibromyalgia a try, head over to this 20 minute free video for people living with chronic illness! 

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