Blog Posts

Yoga for Neck Headaches in Fibromyalgia

Recently I’ve come across many people who, like myself, struggle with headaches caused by neck (and shoulder) tension. Specifically from trigger points.

A few of the members in the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership Team expressed avid interest in yoga for neck headaches when I mentioned it there.

So I shared my routine – what I have been doing to manage neck-caused headaches. This routine is the further development of one I was already doing to manage between physiotherapy appointments. When, all of a sudden, I was stuck at home with three small children, a new job that required me on the computer for 20 hours per week and no access to physiotherapy – I had to step it up in order to cope.

My team loved it.

So I created a 10 minute version for you all to try.

Yoga for Neck Headaches Video

Please remember that, no matter how gentle the sequence, you do need to be cleared to exercise by your medical team. Move mindfully and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

We utilise gentle yoga, breathing and meditations in this practice (and all of my practices).

Other articles that may help you

Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Trigger Points and Fibromyalgia

Restorative Yoga, the Central Nervous System and Fibromyalgia

Micro Yoga for Fibromyalgia

Let me know, how did you find it? What do you do for headaches caused by upper body muscle tension and trigger points?

This is just one of the ways in which I am making practical tools for my members to help them in their journey. If you want to join us – you can do so in the Yoga for the Chronic Life virtual studio here.

yoga for a neck headache
yoga for a neck headache

Pathways Pain Relief App: Review

When I was offered a trial of the Pathways Pain Relief App, I had seen these pain apps and been curious for a while. The basis of science and the mind-body connection as a way to help treat chronic pain resonates strongly with me. Clearly, as a yoga teacher!

pathways the pain relief app

When I was offered the opportunity to review the Pathways Pain Relief App, I jumped! I was given a one year trial in exchange for my honest review. Here it is!

A bit about Pathways Pain Relief App:

  • Educational sessions in pain science
  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Physical exercises

What can Pathways help with?

According to their website any pain of a chronic nature (lasting three months).

What can you expect from the app?

“We take patients on an interactive journey that starts with pain science education. Understanding that pain is much more complex (and interesting!) than a signal from damaged tissues, is an important step towards turning down the volume on pain.
We then move onto breaking any behaviours that could be keeping your pain system in high-alert. We also cover physical therapy, guided imagery, visulization and mindfulness exercises, hundreds of meditations and more.
Our sessions are audio based and between 2 and 20 minutes long.”

My Experience with the Pathways Pain Relief App

As a busy mama of three children six and under I don’t have the time for full on programme. I do have time for 2-20 minute audio sessions to be completed on my own schedule. In addition there really is nothing to lose, this is all natural and is bound to have relaxation benefits if nothing else. And we can all benefit from relaxing more.

The first thing I went through was the collection of meditations, there is a great selection for pain, relaxation, sleep and more. So that is a great resource.

I went through several of the lessons and then lost steam. It felt a little like we were being told that if we ignore the pain it will just go away. I understand the basis of not focusing on the pain and letting it become part of your identity. I fully understand that the brain is the main cause of the pain in fibromyalgia but I don’t believe you can just push through, ignoring it.

However, knowledge is power, and if you are at the beginning of your journey with fibromyalgia and chronic pain – this is a great way to learn. It is presented in bite sized chunks. Easy for brain fog and to implement.

If education/information is your cuppa you might like:

Myofascial Pain Syndrome 101

Fibromyalgia 101

Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue

pathways pain relief app

Conclusion

The founder had told me that there were some extra resources coming including some physical practices. That is what I was waiting for before sharing this review.

The update is fantastic! My subscription has lapsed so I can’t try everything but it is a great resource.

There’s yoga, physical therapy, challenges, extra masterclasses, guided breathing and more. As a yoga teacher, with my own virtual studio, I don’t need the yoga, breathing or meditation myself!

The masterclasses include How to Sleep Better, Epigenetics: Reprogram Your Genes and Finding the Motivation to Heal. All interesting topics to me.

At $14.99 a month, $69.99 a year or $299.99 lifetime it is worth a try if any of these options appeal. You can also try it free using Google Play or App Store.

Check it out here.

Have you tried the Pathways app? Or one similar? I’d love to hear your experience.

pathways pain relief app

If being practical is your cuppa then you might like these

Calming Breathing Tutorial

Gentle Beginner Yoga for Fibromyalgia Class

Restorative Yoga for Fibromyalgia Class 15 minutes

What Treatments Help Me with Fibromyalgia: As Tested During Lock-down

Here I share eight treatments that help me with fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome. There is nothing like a challenge for a treatment that we think helps to ensure it works. The pandemic has been a good time to test all of my coping mechanisms.

Being at home with three small, high energy boys, much of the time alone, while trying to work 20 hours and manage my health has been a massive challenge.

But here’s the thing. Despite my neck and back being harder to manage -average pain levels went from mild to moderate – I had only one neck migraine attack and that was the first weekend. So what treatments help? What have I been doing?

what treatments help me with fibromyalgia during the lockdown

Here are the treatments that help me the most

Electric heat pad

This has been my best purchase of 2020. Instead of dragging myself out of bed, standing in front of the microwave for the heat pack to warm and then trying to get it in the right spot – I just press a button and have whole back and neck warmth. It’s been the best help.

Physiotherapy

I knew this helped my neck but man it helps my back too. After more than two months without being able to see my physio my entire back and neck were flaring. I also had trigger points in my chest, arms and legs. The acupuncture needles in the neck, shoulders and upper back had flow on effects. So did the ultrasound the physio did on the middle and lower back while the needles were in the top. That feeling of all my back ribs forming a cage on my back muscles and drawing tighter came back. My lower back, glutes and upper legs were tight. Surprisingly, my neck coped alright without the needles. I thought this was a guaranteed truth. So this was a mixed finding and I’m not sure what to do with this.

what treatments are helping me most with fibromyalgia

Self-trigger point work

Following from the above point, my self-trigger point work helped me manage so much better than I thought. With the additional computer work with my new job I was needing to manage trigger points in my SCM. This one I tilt my head to the side and rub down, pressuring trigger point I find on that tight wire like muscle. My upper trapezius trigger poibts required a lot of work between my hands and theracane massager.

Regular dynamic stretches

These have been the best learning ever. After years of static stretching doing little for my neck, my dynamic stretches for my neck are so useful for keeping those neck trigger points in check. It also helped me notice where the trigger points are restricting range of movement so I can tackle them first.

Yoga, meditation and breathing (three treatments that help in one)

When we first went into lock-down my chest was constantly heavy and tight – not from being sick, from the anxiety of the situation. Take the ability to plan from a person who uses strict planning to survive and you get the perfect breeding ground for anxiety. My breathing practices got me through this.

Each day, after lunch, I have done my guided meditation. I have had about 45 minutes of decent rest and relaxation. It has helped a ton. It is my favourite tool.

My yoga practice hasn’t really looked like a class. It’s looked like cat and cow whenever I need it and some puppy thrown in for some upper body tightness. It’s looked like doing downward dog, cat and cow and forward bend with an 18 month old climbing under me. I have used these tools and used them well.

If you want to look at yoga for fibromyalgia with me, then come and join this free workshop.

Avoiding white flour

Oh how this is something that works for my tummy. In the beginning of lockdown here we were limited to two breads per shop and there was no flour. So I found a 20kg bag of white flour. And proceeded to bake to my son’s heart’s content. And ended up with a very bloated sore tummy. I stopped eating it and was fine again!

Gentle walking

We have managed to start taking a walk everyday. It feels so good to be able to. I feel strong and so happy to now walk for 30-45 minutes. With no hangover pain (stretching afterward). It helps to be outside and to move these muscles and gentle walking has always been soothing to my upper body trigger points (don’t ask me how).

Sleep

I have always said sleep is king and I will continue to do so. We cannot be well and continuously sleep poorly. My sleep hygiene routines, walks, yoga, meditation, breathing, low dose naltrexone and magnesium all help me sleep. Even when my neck is interrupting me multiple times a night I am sleeping in blocks of a few hours which makes all the difference.

You will note that many of these are reactionary to trigger points – the trigger points are related to mechanical things like using the computer but they are also worsened by things like the central nervous system flaring (hello stress). Many of these also target more than one symptom, I am nothing if not efficient, which is why I adore yoga and sleep.

Share with us- what treatments help you? What have you confirmed over this time?

We talk about all of these things and more in the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership Team and you’re spot is waiting for you now. Come and join us! You can even grab the first two weeks on me.

information tools support

My Favourite Yoga Poses for Fibromyalgia

Let’s talk about my favourite yoga poses for fibromyalgia. As a yoga practitioner and a teacher I have a few poses I come back to again and again in mine and my student’s toolkit.

These are great standalone poses that have a prominent place in my toolkit and my students are loving these too.

Some of my favourite yoga tools for fibromyalgia

As you can likely tell, there are a multitude of tools on offer from the yoga toolkit and I use many. It is hard to narrow it down so in this post, I share just six.

Supported childs pose

My favourite version of this pose is supported child’s pose, but even usual child’s pose is a great restful pose. It gently stretches the lower back and shoulders (if you take it extended). Placing your forehead on the ground will calm you down. This pose comes from restorative yoga, a lovely, gentle yoga style that is great for calming the nervous system.

legs on a chair for fibromyalgia

This is such a great introductory restorative pose. One prop required. It is very calming and can be replicated with pillows/cushions/an ottoman, anything to raise those legs a little. Relieving pressure in our legs can be a nice bonus here. Place your neck on a flat pillows/cushion/folded towel if you find it uncomfortable.

cat and cow for fibromyalgia

While they are stand alone poses, I like them together, they are the perfect counter pose to each other and a great way to mobilize the back and neck. I use this regularly throughout the day. Not only does the physical movement help my body but matching the movement to my breath and moving mindfully helps my mind. It’s calming and relaxing.

forward fold for fibromyalgia

Forward bend is so great for a gentle neck and back stretch (as well as the hamstrings). I was using it for gentle neck tractions between physiotherapy appointments before I knew what I was doing (using yoga as tools).

Other posts of interest

Yoga for Fibromyalgia Giant Post

Micro Yoga for Fibromyalgia

Restorative Yoga, the Central Nervous System and Fibromyalgia

What does it mean to “do” yoga

eagle pose for fibromyalgia

Eagle is really great for helping out the upper back (a key problem area for fibromyalgia, desk workers and almost everyone). In Foundations of Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue we work through this pose as a journey because there is so much space in this pose for us to grow.

This is great if you’re not getting onto the floor and want to stretch your lower back. You could use this as a standalone pose, as part of a sequence before bed, in bed and first thing in the morning.

So these are my favourite poses for fibromyalgia. What are yours?

We talk Yoga for Fibromyalgia in my very special free webinar

  • Benefits of yoga for fibromyalgia
  • Myth busting
  • Answering your top questions
  • What about the pregnant fibromyalgia fighter?
  • Yoga as tools
  • My favourite tools
  • and more!

Breathing, the Nervous System and Fibromyalgia

Breathing. It’s not sexy. It’s super subtle. Everyone does it every day. But we need to do it better. Optimal respiration can help us to calm the central nervous system and manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia better.

So many people do it incorrectly. Not breathing fully, chest or mouth breathing and more.

breathing, the central nervous system and fibromyalgia

Correct breathing is vital so that we can take the benefits it offers.

breathing well saves energy, improves energy, reduces pain and tension, helps us to activate the "rest and digest" response and more

Breathing well:

  • Saves energy
  • Improves energy
  • Reduces pain and tension
  • Helps us activate the “rest and digest” mode or the parasympathetic nervous system
  • Improves digestion
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces heart rate
  • Decreases stress
  • Improves cognitive function
https://youtu.be/9_AUMn8Cnrg

It can help respiratory issues, back and chest pain

“One of the benefits of breathing deeply is that it helps to release tension in the diaphragm and primary breathing muscles, relieving many long-term respiratory issues such as asthma and breathlessness. It opens up the chest, releasing tension from the intercostal muscles and around the scapula, erector spinae and trapezius muscles, allowing for a more relaxed posture.” From the article The Benefits of Breathing Deeply

breathing, the central nervous system and fibromyalgia

It helps us activate the parasympathetic nervous system and helps us to calm down

Just a few deep breaths can help us to relax and calm down. Even if we have been anxious, scared or in pain. It is the quickest tool in our arsenal to respond to stress. Please note I am not saying it can cure anxiety or depression – I am saying it can help (as an adjunct to treatment with your medical team).

Just a few deep breaths can help us to relax and calm down. Even if we have been anxious, in pain or scared. It is the quickest tool in our arsenal to respond to stress

Would you like a free, simple mindfulness challenge to fit it into your daily life? Sign up here.

It improves the cardiovascular system

“Deep diaphragmatic breathing tones, massages and increases circulation to the heart, liver, brain and reproductive organs. In one study of heart attack patients, 100% of the patients were chest breathers whose breathing involved very little diaphragm or belly expansion. Another study found that patients who survived a heart attack and who adopted an exercise regime and breath training afterward experienced a 50% reduction in their risk factor of another heart attack over the following 5 years.”

From the article The Benefits of Breathing Deeply

What does this mean for fibromyalgia?

All of the benefits that optimal respiration offers us are essential for people with the symptoms of fibromyalgia. We need to save energy, get more energy, reduce pain and tension, activate the rest and digest mode and all of the rest of the benefits mentioned earlier.

It is also easy to learn. And practice. Below we will talk about what breathing well is and my easiest recommendation for breathing. I have a couple of breathing practices for you on YouTube. But you will get a whole heap of breathing support in Yoga for the Chronic Life virtual studio. Starting with Breathing 101 module, continuing with pretty much every single yoga and meditation practice focusing on the breath. Breath is central to yoga.

inhale, feel the air fill your lungs and expand your abdomen. Exhale slowly. Breathing practice from melissavsfibromyalgia.com

So what is breathing well?         

Using your nose and not your mouth, filling your abdomen and not your chest. Taking the time to focus on it each day. Focusing on it is actually the simplest meditation you can do!

What is my easiest recommendation for breathing?

Inhale for four, pause for two, out for six. Adapting the numbers to what works for you, focusing on making the exhale slightly longer than the inhale. For example inhale for three, pause for two, out for four.

In the video below I share this simple practice

Look at breathing and other yoga tools to help you in this free challenge

Pacing with Fibromyalgia Part Two

Pacing is a key concept for people with fibromyalgia and other chronic fatigue-based illnesses. We hear about it all the time. But how do we actually take it and use it in our daily lives to help us to improve our quality of life? A member of the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership team asked me to put this together, so here it is.

Pacing with Fibromyalgia Training Video Part Two

https://youtu.be/saN-FjyyLu8

In this second part of the pacing training series we talk about how pacing can look practically in your life – the different parts of your life you can use it. From work hours, to exercise, to managing your energy across the day. We also talk about the difference this has made for me.

In this talk we are going to talk look at what my pacing includes (all of the things you
can consider and use the idea for). What the point of it is.
As we said in the first talk, pacing is a broad tool that we can apply every day.
It applies to the whole of life balance, how many hours total we work/volunteer etc. It
applies to how we manage our activities during the day. How we approach exercise etc.

What is this all in service of? What is my main aim?

As much symptom reduction as possible!
My biggest aim in life, besides being a good mama and helping as many people as I can
with my work, is the least pain and fatigue possible.

What has pacing done for me?

  • Sleep better, the less overtired I am the better I sleep. If I’ve had my rest breaks, relaxed in the evening and gone to bed at a decent time I sleep much better than if I don’t. Fun fact: I sleep the worst on days when I haven’t rested and go to bed late, that sleep reverse psychology doesn’t work here!
  • Reduced pain – by taking my rest breaks and adhering to my framework I experience less pain. Especially by limiting computer time.
  • Less brain fog and overwhelm.
  • More enjoyment.
  • Better quality of life.

Part three where we get really practical and make your plans, is available only for the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership team. The membership team already has access to the three videos, three audio versions, the downloadable PDF toolkit and three templates.

pacing toolkit

Check out my previous posts on pacing

A confession on pacing and boundaries

Patigue and Energy – the Fibromyalgia Framework series

The perils of pacing

Do you want some help with the rest portion of your pacing? Join us for the free workshop all about the a super restful type of yoga. 

What is the membership team?

It is an affordable way to get support, resources and practical tools to save you time, energy and money. There is a wealth of information in the resources library and in the exclusive group we go in-depth and work together on our journey. It also supports me to enable making these resources (over 200 blog posts, over 100 videos and more) Join us today to grab your spot.

pacing for fibromyalgia

Pacing for Fibromyalgia Part One

Pacing is a key concept for people with fibromyalgia and other chronic fatigue-based illnesses. We hear about it all the time. But how do we actually take it and use it in our daily lives to help us to improve our quality of life? A member of the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership team asked me to put this together, so here it is.

The Pacing for Fibromyalgia Training Video Part One

We we talk about what pacing is and why we should be doing it.

Pacing is a crucial concept to get when living with constant pain and fatigue. Finding and utilising the energy envelope we have can help us to avoid unnecessary higher levels of pain and fatigue.

Almost every man and his dog who write about managing fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome recommend it, and they are right, but what on earth does it mean? How does it have practical applications in our life?

I’m a big fan of the Fast and Furious movies (it’s Vin Diesel for me all the way, just FYI) and they live their lives a quarter mile at a time. As a New Zealander I can’t properly visualise what that means (we talk kilometres) but as a chronic illness fighter I get living a moment at a time.

When I get up I am generally coping until baby’s nap so I can meditate. Yoga nidra guided meditation is my best bet for true rest and relaxation. After that I’m coping until bedtime. Those are the markers that frame my day.

Pacing means aligning what we do with our energy and symptom levels.

Homework

➢ Write down what you do each day and track your pain and fatigue levels – look
for the patterns over a two week period.
➢ If you have a pedometer or Fitbit or other kind of activity tracker that can be
useful for helping you to find your ideal energy envelope.
➢ Listen to what your body is telling you. Grab an empty piece of paper and a pen
and free write about your ideal day, see what your intuition is telling you.

Links mentioned:

The CFIDS rating scale so you can find out where you are on the scale

Their free activity tracker to help you get started tracking your baseline

Pacing is a valuable tool for managing chronic pain and fatigue but what on earth does it mean in practical terms? We find out over this three video training series. Parts one and two are coming right here. Part three is only available to the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia membership team for access.

Check out my previous posts on pacing

A confession on pacing and boundaries

Fatigue and Energy – the Fibromyalgia Framework series

The perils of pacing



What is the membership team?

It is an affordable way to get support, resources and practical tools to save you time, energy and money. There is a wealth of information in the resources library and in the exclusive group we go in-depth and work together on our journey. It also supports me to enable making these resources (over 200 blog posts, over 100 videos and more) Join us today to grab your spot.



pacing for fibromyalgia, the concept of pacing transcends those big boundaries like how many hours we "work" but it is an important place to start

Resources for the Home-Bound

Being home-bound is not unusual for many chronic illness fighters. But being absolutely unable to leave the house is new for most of us.

So in this post I am going to compile a list of things that you might like to do while you are home-bound. As new ideas come my way, I will add to it.

Please remember, that even if you are busy with small children or working, as I am (both), you still deserve to take time out for your own self-care.

home-bound resources list

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.

Recipes/Healthy Eating

Would a massive list of low histamine recipes help with some ideas for cooking and baking? I have you covered with this list from Through the Fibro Fog.

Learning

Would you like to do some learning while you are at home?

Find 54 free online courses here from the best colleges in the US.

Alison -Their About page says, “We believe that free education, more than anything, has the power to break through boundaries and transform lives.” And living with chronic illness is definitely a barrier to further learning.

I have my eye on a few of their free courses for some future up-skilling. With options for 2-3 hour certificates or pathways for diplomas there is a lot to search through. Subjects range from touch typing to French to graphic design to project management.

Udemy is also a great option.

Coursera.org is another online learning platform.

You can also teach yourself some skills from YouTube videos. Think about what you have been meaning to learn about it likely exists there.

Movement

Would you like to keep moving, within the bounds of your current physical ability? I have you totally covered here.

My free yoga for fibromyalgia challenge is here. Give five yoga tools a go in your own time to see how you can incorporate them into your life in as little as five minutes a day.

If you would like my entire repository of online, on-demand yoga, breathing and meditation classes and courses then you are welcome to come and join Yoga for the Chronic Life virtual studio. I have been building this for several months now.

You could walk one mile in your lounge with Leslie Sansone. I love her videos. When I was struggling to do any movement when heavily pregnant with severe pelvis issues I did some gentle walking with these videos.

Restorative Yoga class designed especially for fibromyalgia.

Entertainment

Netflix. Hulu. YouTube. Basically any television service provider.

Amazon Kindle Unlimited offers a month free

  • Colouring
  • Reading
  • Puzzles
  • Games

Business

If you have a home business or would like to create one then you could start reading up now.

Here is a post I wrote about Ways to Make Money with Fibromyalgia

Jenna from the Bloglancer has two ebooks you might like to check out. The Blog Growth Toolkit and Blog to Business: Your Pitching Toolkit.

Self-Care

  • Take a bath
  • Do some yoga
  • Snuggle with your significant other/pet/child
  • Call a friend
  • Meditate
  • Make a list of your pain management options so you can use them as needed without floundering about forgetting what helps
  • Give yourself a massage
  • Breathing practice

Do you have any more tips?? Please comment below!

Could you please help me out? Share this post?

Hello friend, are you new here? I am Melissa a mama, fibro fighter and yoga coach. Join the newsletter list for updates, my free resources library and check out the archives – there are over 200 articles here to help you. My free course You vs Fibromyalgia is also here.

restorative yoga for the chronic life
Join us for the free workshop all about the super gentle type of yoga that I am super in love with!

How Micro Yoga Helps Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia Plus Your Toolkit

Micro yoga is such a good tool for managing chronic pain and fatigue. The benefits of yoga are continually being proven in research, especially for chronic symptoms. I want to share what micro yoga is, how micro yoga helps me as a mama with chronic pain, fatigue and insomnia and tiny children and how you can use the tools too.

how micro yoga can help chronic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia

What is micro yoga?

It is simply yoga that is not a traditional length or what we typically (in the west) think of as “yoga”.

I literally do 5-30 minute snippets at a time. As a person with chronic symptoms I find it much better to do 10 minutes regularly than one hour once a week.

I’d take it one step further and call my yoga super accessible micro yoga. When done right, yoga is super accessible for us and what we need.

What does this look like?

  • Five minutes of asana (stretches) when I am getting dressed.
  • A random pose to help my back when it is feeling tight during the day.
  • Five minutes of breathing when I am feeling overwhelmed.
  • 30 minute meditation after lunch.
  • 10 minute body scan relaxation before bed.
  • A restorative yoga pose on my bed during a flare.

How can we use it?

Micro yoga can be one or two poses that you use as needed. Or a more formal practice on the mat for 5-45 minutes. It could even be a breathing break or rest guided meditation.

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links are affiliate links and I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Rachel Scott is a yoga teacher who gets it. In her book Little Book of Yoga Practices: Daily Relaxation, One Asana at a Time (2019) she talks about micro practice:

“By weaving micro practices into your everyday life, you will:
Cultivate a consistent yoga routine that won’t overwhelm your busy schedule
Have the tools to reset your mood and energy with just a few breaths
Feel empowered by the quality of your self-care
Recognize that small acts can make a major difference in your physical and
mental health.”

I use micro yoga as part of my toolkit for managing pain and fatigue.

Where do we learn it?

Rachel’s cute book has some great micro practices to try. I was given a complimentary copy by the author. I also got a copy of her latest book Yoga to Stay Young: Simple Poses to Keep You Flexible, Strong and Pain-Free – which I absolutely adore. Both are great guidebooks to keep on hand.

You might like the targeted stretches section starting pg 65. The best part of The Little Book of Yoga Practices is the succinctly described pose section. You can see what resonates and try one or two at a time.

The one minute miracles section is a gold mine! Pg 82

Rachel might not specialise in yoga for chronic pain and fatigue but her books are great resources when you are trying to build a micro yoga practice. And the size of The Little Book of Yoga Practices means it isn’t going to be hard on the old brain fog to get through, it is succinct and easy to follow.

Your Toolkit

Join the free workshop Yoga for Fibromyalgia where I we talk through the myths, the benefits, my favourite poses and more.

Would you like to try a relaxing pose right now? Here you go…

Legs on the cushions is a super accessible pose with a short guided relaxation you can do this on your bed!!

Would you like access to premium information, tools, support AND a yoga library designed especially for fibromyalgia? Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership Team is ready for you. Join us today to grab your spot.

The Central Nervous System, Restorative Yoga and Fibromyalgia

Let’s chat central nervous system, restorative yoga and fibromyalgia. A lot of research suggests that Fibromyalgia is the result of central nervous system dysfunction – specifically an overactive nervous system, stressing and exhausting the brain (Dennis W. Dobritt, Fibromyalgia – A Brief Overview)

Having lived it for over 15 years, I would be inclined to agree.

Check out the video of my live training

It is not the sole problem, but it certainly causes physiological flow on effects, even after we have learned to calm it down again.

Like perhaps a switch gets flipped in our brain from some kind of trauma – an illness, childbirth, experiencing abuse of some kind, experiencing a natural disaster etc. and then it is very hard to turn it off.

the central nervous system, fibromyalgia and restorative yoga

The simplest way to put it

Simply put – we are too often in “fight or flight” mode and struggle to active the “rest and digest” mode.

Fight or flight is that response we have to stressful stimuli – a bear chasing us? Energy is diverted to the functions that are needed to fly, or run really fast! We experience that belly full of butterflies on crack, feel shaky, anxious and fearful.

The rest and digest response is that delicious restful feeling when we are totally relaxed – like during a good, gentle massage.

When you have a central nervous system over activation it is like you are stuck in the fight or flight mode. A chronic, low level anxiety that persists that you live with for so long you might not recognize it as anxiety – because you try to adapt.

This causes real problems in the body. If our energy is constantly diverted to scanning for threats and getting to run or protect ourselves, how can we have energy for normal functions? Digestion itself takes a lot of energy. Then being unable to drop into deep sleep because our brain is watching for threats, even more energy is drained. It is a big, vicious cycle.

What are some of the symptoms of a central nervous system over activity?

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Breathlessness
  • Inability to relax
  • Poor digestion
  • High blood pressure
  • Fear
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy

What are the benefits of a balanced central nervous system?

  • Better sleep
  • Less pain
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Relaxation
  • Good digestion
  • Heal well
  • Have enough energy
  • Less brain fog

Yes please to all of these!!

So, how can we treat an over activated central nervous system?

  • Rest
  • Sleep (easier said than done, I know)
  • Gentle breathing
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Restorative yoga
  • Removal of perpetuating factors

It’s not a quick fix…

From personal experience, I can tell you it is not a quick fix either. I have meditated, done yoga, worked on sleep, removed myself from perpetuating factors (as best as I can) and it is still a work in progress.

And – although my central nervous system is MUCH calmer, I am not magically healed. But with my whole of life plan in place, including a heavy amount of the above treatments, I am feeling much better.

For a long time meditation was my thing, particularly yoga Nidra guided meditation, because I needed the profound rest it offered immediately.

Gentle breathing was a great tool to reduce some of the constant tension in my chest, shoulders and neck. It is also fantastic at helping to calm the central nervous system when it gets flared again.

Right now, though, my jam is restorative yoga.

Why? Because it is a little less passive and easier to access for those who find it difficult to just sit still and breathe.

What are the benefits of restorative yoga?

  • Enhances flexibility
  • Total relaxation of body and mind
  • Improves capacity for healing
  • Balances the central nervous system
  • Helps us tune into our body
the central nervous system, restorative yoga and fibromyalgia

What is restorative yoga?

Well this is a big question. Because a lot of people get it confused with yin yoga.

Restorative yoga is a passive practice that utilises props (cushions, bolsters, blocks etc.) to achieve total support. Yin yoga also holds poses for longer than other yoga traditions, around five minutes or so, but it is looking for deep sensation and it is energetically more strenuous (while still being relatively gentle).

In a restorative yoga class you will have your props around you, it will be a calm atmosphere and you will like only do a few poses. There may or may not be calming music and essential oils.

Would you like to learn restorative yoga with me?

Join me in this free workshop to learn what restorative yoga is, how it can benefit us, try a restorative pose (the one that made me fall in love with restorative yoga) and more.

restorative yoga for the chronic life workshop

Sources

In this post I have taken my combined knowledge and written it up as you see. For some sources and further reading see below…

https://irenelyon.com/2018/09/30/9-benefits-nervoussystem-regulated/

https://www.everythingzoomer.com/health/2018/08/20/yoga-after-50-yin-restorative/

https://chopra.com/articles/10-benefits-of-restorative-yoga

https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/why-restorative-yoga-is-the-most-advanced-practice

https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/practice/why-restorative-yoga