Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue: What it is, isn’t, how I use it and you can too

yoga for chronic pain and fatigue
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Last Updated on November 3, 2020 by melissanreynolds

Yoga for chronic pain and fatigue, it seems to be recommended a lot. It can be a really excellent addition to our whole of life plan when managing chronic pain and fatigue. But so often, people have the wrong idea of what yoga means or what they have to do in order to do it. Or, worse, they have been put off by previous experiences.

In this post I will share what yoga is not, what it can be, guidelines for practicing with chronic pain and fatigue and how I use the tools in my every day life (yes I use the tools everyday). I also share how you can try some yoga designed especially for chronic pain and fatigue for free, so read on.

yoga for chronic pain and fatigue. woman practicing gentle yoga with fibromyalgia

Let me first spell out what yoga for fibromyalgia is not.

  • It is not 60 or 90 minute classes – it is not defined by the length of time you practice.
  • Nor is it defined by what poses you can do and how far into them you go.
  • It is not even limited to your physical practice – you can “do” yoga by lying on your bed breathing or meditating.
  • You do not have to subscribe to a “lifestyle”, set of beliefs or a religion to “do” yoga.

What can yoga for chronic pain and fatigue be?

  • A set of tools you dig into when you need them.
  • Mindful movement.
  • Rest and relaxation.
  • Whatever the heck you want.

Join the free Five Minutes a Day for Five Days Yoga for Fibromyalgia Challenge here to try it for yourself!

Guidelines for practicing when you have chronic pain and fatigue

1. Listen to your body. This is absolutely key, in a world where we are trained to push through and ignore our cues, you must listen in yoga. If you are feeling particularly fatigued then perhaps breathing, meditation or a restorative posture might be best for today.
2. Pay attention to your body. How does a movement feel? Should you pull back? Is a certain posture for you right now?
3. Start slow.
4. Frame practice with breathing and rest. After all my research and practice, I would say the ideal practice for fibromyalgia is gentle breathing, gentle poses, followed by a restorative pose and a good yoga nidra meditation.
5. It’s not linear. You won’t necessarily do five minutes today, seven minutes tomorrow, 30 minutes in six months. You may do 10 minutes of physical practice today, meditation tomorrow, 5 minutes of physical practice the next day and then 20 minutes of restorative postures the next. We are on a journey with our body not with our type or length of practice.
6. It should not hurt.

What does my yoga practice look like?

My daily yoga for chronic pain and fatigue, fibromyalgia, schedule

How to make working with chronic pa... x
How to make working with chronic pain and fatigue easier
Here is a sample of my daily routine:
7.15am 5 minutes standing sun salutations when I get dressed
Neck stretches and cat and cow pose randomly throughout the day
1pm 40 minute yoga nidra guided meditation
Deep breathing breaks as needed
9pm a couple of poses by the bed, legs on a cushion pose in bed, body scan meditation.

Let’s look at when the tools of yoga could be useful for you

Deep breathing – whenever you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, sore, anxious. As a pick me up.
Meditation – first thing in the morning, during a rest, in a flare, after work, before bed, in the middle of the night when experiencing painsomnia.
Physical postures – as needed throughout the day, in “classes” a few together for 5-30 minutes, one off restorative postures for rest/rejuvenation.

What are some of the benefits of yoga practice?

For more research on this see this post here Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue, here is a summary:

  • calms the autonomic nervous system
  • help with sleep
  • reduced fatigue
  • reduced pain
  • increased physical capacity
  • decreased myofascial pain
  • less anxiety
  • reduced depression
  • relaxation
  • mindfulness of movement
  • awareness of proper alignment

Of course, it is not from one or two practices. We see the best results over time. Ten minutes a day is far better than one hour every day for a few days until you cause a flare and then never do it again!

Perhaps the most important benefit – at least for me – is the power. I can use these tools anytime, anywhere. I don’t need to wait for an appointment, I can employ them how I like and when I like. Forever. These tools are mine. And side-effect free, provided I practice safely.

Would you like to try some yoga designed especially for people with fibromyalgia?

I have a few options for you.

  • Try my Five Minutes a Day for Five Days Challenge for free
  • Check out some of my free classes here
  • Jump in and give it a good go in the Yoga for the Chronic Life studio here. We have breathing practices, slow flow practices of varying lengths, restorative practices of varying lengths, meditations and more. I add new classes monthly. I also periodically create challenges/plans to guide practice. There are several toolkits which you can work your way through as well – including the Bed Yoga Toolkit, the Chair Yoga Toolkit and the 10 Day Beginners Toolkit. The Foundations of Yoga for Fibromyalgia full course (value $199) is in there too.

So tell me, have you tried yoga, does it help you?