Yoga for stress and calming the central nervous system is one of the best benefits it offers. In this sequence, I share several poses to help you to gently activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest mode).
You can do this sequence no matter your mobility level, simply omit what doesn’t work for you today. This is the beauty of yoga, we can adapt it to fit our needs.
If you want to learn more about the benefits yoga can offer us, see these posts:
This could take as little as 15 minutes “physical” practice plus your yoga nidra. Or as long as 37 minutes plus the yoga nidra. It is flexible. If a pose doesn’t feel right, please omit it. Please move mindfully and remember your breath – it is key to calm.
Start in a comfortable position and focus on your breathe for 1-2 minutes. Coming out of the rush and into your place of calm. Begin with some gentle neck stretches if it feels good.
Alternate nostril breathing is a great way to soothe the central nervous system. Here is the tutorial. Practice for 5 minutes.
Child’s pose is a great calming pose that is also good for gently stretching your body. Here is how to do it. Hold for 3-5 minutes.
From table top (all fours) carefully place each hand forward, one at a time, as pictured for Puppy Pose. Puppy is a gentle inversion (so please avoid if you have uncontrolled, high blood pressure or it just doesn’t feel right) that creates a good stretch and induces a sense of calm. Hold for 30 seconds if you are new to it. If it feels too strong feel free to try on your forearms. Hold for up to a few minutes.
Legs on a chair pose. You can use the side of your couch, a chair (as pictured), or you can use the wall for this one. Hold for 5-20 minutes, as comfortable. As above, if it doesn’t feel right, please avoid.
How do you feel? Take a moment to check in with yourself.
If you would like even more yoga designed especially for fibro bodies, please do come and check out the Yoga for the Chronic Life virtual studio. We even offer a seven day free trial for you to give it a try.
This is the practical, what do I do next. It’s a lot, so take it one step at a time and bookmark this post so you can come back as you are ready. Catch the free download of these suggestions for reference to help you as you work through them.
I could really stop this post here – if you worked through one of these books, you would be in good stead. Next I will point out the key things that have helped me. Those things I’d start ASAP if I somehow was rebooted back to my diagnosis.
Low Dose Naltrexone
Low dose naltrexone (LDN) has changed my life. I shared about my experiment here and here. Nearly four years later I am astounded at the change in my quality of life.
It helps with sleep, pain, fatigue, stamina, gut health and so much more. Prior to LDN I slept in one hour blocks and rarely achieved deep sleep. Now I can get up to 15% (the range we need is 12-23%) in conjunction with my sleep hygiene and the supplement I recommend below. It makes a difference as all the good things happen during sleep in our brains.
The key supplement I take is Recovery Factors, which is an amino acid supplement. Doctor Teitelbaum offered a study at the end of 2019/early 2020 and I was lucky enough to take part. I got two bottles to trial and it helped me so much I continue to buy it and pay the shipping to New Zealand! Here’s my post about it.
I am not a nutritionist and have no training whatsoever. But I have done A LOT of research.
The only diet I believe in is one full of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. And avoiding your own intolerances (do get on this). Nutrition is highly personalised but one thing is true, we need high quality nutrients and less anti nutrients.
You have a certain level of energy available right now. You need to figure out how to live well within these confines so you don’t cause more pain and fatigue.
You have likely heard or been told exercise is highly recommended for fibromyalgia. Well, yes and no. It is great for us, but only when done within our specific context. No pushing to exhaustion and pain.
For this reason I love mindful slow yoga for gentle movement (and walking). In 2019, after years of practicing (and adapting) yoga for myself and trying to find suitable yoga to recommend to you, I trained myself. I became a yoga teacher, which was a bit of a bucket list dream that I had no idea I could accomplish.
Now my dream is to share these tools with you. Why? Because I use these tools to help me manage my symptoms. And they are available anywhere, anytime you need.
Gentle stretches to use as needed in the day.
Mindful movement as exercise.
Restful poses to induce the relaxation response.
Yoga Nidra guided meditation for rest and to help with insomnia.
Breathing practices for many benefits including calming the central nervous system.
Can you see why I love it?
The trouble is many of us have been put off it in one experience or another. My goal is to share accessible yoga that simultaneously helps us with our symptoms.
To this end I have the following to get you started:
The final part to this would be never give up hope. Amidst those long nights of painsomnia (insomnia and pain living together), during flares and when something doesn’t work for you, keep the hope alive.
There are many things to try. And much beauty, even in pain. There is always something to brighten your day. Compile a list of the things that bring you comfort in a flare. Compile a list of things you can do in ascending order of ability (my last idea before just bunkering down to sleep is to listen to a familiar audio book with my eyes closed). This way you can still do something that brings you comfort or joy.
Yoga is a great tool for better sleep, this is my yoga for insomnia sequence. It is a sequence I designed for those nights when you would like to do a little yoga to prepare for sleep but it needs to be gentle, calming and done on your bed.
Sleep is king. It is the foundation upon which my entire healing journey is built. More sleep equals less pain and fatigue. It is not an easy thing to do and I have a whole of life protocol, of which yoga is one part. If you want to really work on sleep, then check out this post.
This sequence draws heavily on poses that come from a style of yoga called Restorative. It was designed specifically for those who were injured or unwell. All of these poses are covered in tutorials and included in classes in the Restful Yoga for the Chronic Life course available here.
You will need a couple of pillows/cushions/bolsters and that is about it! You are most welcome to do this on your bed (mindfully). It can also be done on the floor, on your mat, in a warm and quiet place with the lights low. You want to set the scene for sleep.
Yoga for Better Sleep Sequence
This can be as long or as short as you need. It could be as little as 14 minutes “physical” practice plus your Yoga Nidra. Or as long as 45 minutes “physical” practice plus your Yoga Nidra. You can also omit poses that don’t suit. You could even go straight for steps four and five! The flexibility is endless.
Begin your practice with some centering breathing – simple inhale, exhales. You may like to try the following breathing practices. Alternate Nostril Breathing Practice or One Minute Breathing Practice. Follow this with some gentle stretches for the areas that need it most, for me that is my neck. Cat and cow pose is also nice.
Supported Child’s Pose is the one that made me fall in love with restorative yoga. Set yourself up with as many cushions/pillows/bolsters as it takes to feel fully surrendered into the pose. Here is a tutorial for this pose. Hold for anywhere from 5-15 minutes.
Reclined Child’s Pose is a great follow up, you can add a gentle rock from side to side too. Lying on your back, hug your knees into your chest. Hold for 2-5 minutes.
Legs on a cushion is a great adaptation of Legs Up the Wall, a popular, relaxing pose. This makes it even more accessible. Stack as many cushions/pillows/bolsters as it takes to make your knees higher than your head. Here is a tutorial. Hold for as long as you like! 5-20 minutes.
What is the best thing to take for fibromyalgia? The answer to this question highly depends on a lot of factors. Supplements or medicines? What are your key symptoms? What else are you doing to manage your symptoms?
I can share my personal experience and research – which I will do below. I will also share some good resources for you to look at other ideas too.
Let me preface this with a couple of things. You cannot take any one thing and be magically cured. There is no cure. You will likely end up with several, whole of life, things in your protocol. For me it includes sleep, pain management, pacing, stress management, yoga and meditation, healthy eating and some supplements and medicines.
You must carefully research the costs vs benefits of any treatment option. You must also discuss medicines with your medical team. This is just to get you started on your journey.
Low Dose Naltrexone – my best thing to take for fibromyalgia
The number one best thing I take for fibromyalgia is low dose naltrexone. This is a medicine that we take off-label (it was designed for another purpose) that helps up to 60% of people with fibromyalgia. I began this medicine in 2017 and after several months I began to experience improved sleep, decreased pain and increased energy. It’s been nothing short of miraculous. And there are very few side effects, most of which are transient.
If you would like to look into the medicines often prescribed for fibromyalgia here are some resources for you. It is worth noting, that the chance of these working, with limited side effects and then continuing to work is relatively low. In other words the likelihood of side effects are high, and the chance they help and continue to help is also low. This is why I tried low dose naltrexone before going down these routes. But for some, they help a great deal.
What would be a better place to start than things to take with fibromyalgia?
The first thing we need to tackle is sleep. That is likely going to take several steps including sleep hygiene, supplements and the like. But you can’t reduce pain and fatigue without some sleep.
You may like to consider trying gentle yoga for fibromyalgia – this will help with the central nervous system over activation, pain, fatigue and insomnia. Try this yoga nidra meditation that is great rest.
This has been a full post. I hope you have found some help and some ideas to try. But I also hope you found that it will be a whole of life protocol rather than one thing you can take. For me it includes sleep, pain management, pacing, stress management, yoga and meditation, healthy eating and some supplements and medicines. But it’s all worth it as I have dramatically improved my sleep and decreased my pain and fatigue.
This post contains affiliate links, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.
The Energy Cell is based on over thirty years of research and development in co-operation with over 2,800 clinics in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. It uses frequency waves. Their website explains it this way, “The energy cell is made possible by a patented EMF material, that can retain and emit Vital Fields with extraordinary durability (> 6months), thereby allowing the benefits of a proven energy medicine discipline to be accessible to everyone and anyone experiencing pain.” https://wavelife.com/vital-fields/
I don’t pretend to understand this stuff but I do have an open mind at this point. Especially for natural options.
The types of pain listed on their website doesn’t include fibromyalgia. Other reviews (as linked below) say it helped with arthritis pain.
If you would like to give it a go you can get yours here. They do offer a 30-day no questions asked return policy, if for whatever reason our product did not meet your expectations. So it is a win-win!
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!
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
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:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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?
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.
Correct breathing is vital so that we can take the benefits it offers.
pain and tension
us activate the “rest and digest” mode or the parasympathetic nervous system
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
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).
Would you like a free, simple yoga for fibromyalgia challenge to fit it into your daily life? Sign up here.
It improves the
“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.”
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.
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.
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?
Affiliate notice: Some of my links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my link, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Every little bit helps me make these resources
Pacing with Fibromyalgia Training Video Part Two
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.
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?
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. Want your own Yoga Nidra meditation to download and use, grab it here.
Affiliate notice: Some of my links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my link, I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Every little bit enables me to keep making these resources.
Pacing means aligning what we do with our energy and symptom levels.
➢ 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.
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.