How Yoga Could Help Ease Chronic Pain & Fibromyalgia
Do you know anyone with fibromyalgia? Or maybe just someone who feels tired a lot, has chronic pain, sleep problems, or gets sick pretty frequently? Yoga can help, and the cure is often not simply a pose prescription.
What helps here — for pain, energy, sleep, and immunity — is often less about what poses you do, and more about moving your body. As a general guide: move easy, everything you've got, in every direction you can. Don't worry about poses, correct ways of doing things, or pushing into anything at all. Just stay relaxed, breathe deep, and follow how you feel. It's not the poses that matter, it's you, so explore gently around and get to know all of you. When you find a place that feels good to linger, linger and breathe there! When you want to move, move easy.
Take prevention and healing of pain as an example. Chronic pain and tenderness often spring up for people in their hips and shoulders. Poses like hip and shoulder openers can feel quite good while you're doing them, but over time, pushing further into these poses creates hyper-mobility in most people, and more pain. It's not another pose that's likely to help here. To restore balance in your body, put your focus now on moving rather than posing.
Try moving your body easily all around every pose — over, under, left, right, forward, back, up and down. Let your body relax. Don't use force to get into anything. Just explore gently in every direction. Rather than bringing stress into your body and mind, this will help send it in the direction you want: right on out of you. Once your mind and body feel safe, your critical systems can switch from defense mode into healing and happy mode.
Your body is an incredible healing machine, and it will often just take care of itself with a little time. Our bodies are pretty great that way. If you want to support that healing process, even better. Here are a few steps to follow:
Avoid doing things that make you tense or rigid. Instead, do things that let stress release and leave your body and mind.
2. Move easy.
Keep checking in on how you move. Are you moving easily around where it's comfortable for you to move easily, and letting that territory expand on its own time? Are you moving easy until something gets tough, and then going to war with that barrier? Move easy, everything you've got, in every direction you can. Keep doing this, and soon enough things that were hard will no longer be hard.
3. Crazy cat-cow.
Begin on your hands and knees and get comfortable, hands wider than your shoulders, knees wider than your hips. That's just a starting point. Now let your head hang easy and roll your hips and body around in every explorable direction. To let your body move this way, relax! Rather than holding your arms stiff, let your elbows bend. Lean your hips over to one side, maybe far to one side as your calves swing around to the other side for balance. As you roll around left and right, ease your hips back toward your heels, then forward toward the ground. Your hands can move, your knees and feet can move, your ribs might round off to one side or the other, a leg might extend daringly off your mat to one side! Just keep moving from your belly, and let the rest of your body go along for the ride.
To help with all this movement, breathe! Breathe extra deep, and hold a moment at the top of each breath, so you get to feel into everything you've got. You explore to find new spots in you where it feels good to linger and breathe. When you find them, linger and breathe! Let your breath take over. Use it even more than your muscles to get into your body here.
This is one crazy cat-cow. It will get you into you, it will get you relaxed, and it will get you feeling really good!
You can apply all of this for pain, both in prevention and healing. The same principles work for giving yourself an energy boost, falling and staying happily asleep, and strengthening your immunity.
Far from lazy, this kind of moving and exploration has a way of making people super-capable in their own bodies. The best part is, you get great at being in you. You've made friends with you! From here, your body can get to work, drawing on its own incredible capacity to heal and live radiant and happy. From here, you are your own best cure.