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

I have a thing about making toolkits for you – assembling tools that can help you right now.

Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue five minutes a day for five days free challenge. This is five free micro yoga tools you can try today! I designed this challenge and my Foundations of Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue program specifically so we can add micro yoga to our lives every single day.

Would you like to try some relaxing poses right now? I have a few for you!

Supported Child’s Pose is so good!
Legs on the cushions is a super accessible pose with a short guided relaxation you can do this on your bed!!
How about a brief guided breathing practice?

If you want yoga designed especially for people with chronic pain and fatigue, by someone with chronic pain and fatigue, then check out Yoga for the Chronic Life virtual studio. You will get new resources added monthly, Foundations of Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue course, The Bed Yoga Toolkit, access to the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership Library and much more. All for one low monthly membership. I’d be delighted to share these tools with you.

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?

restorative yoga for the chronic life person doing poses

Restorative Yoga for the Chronic Life. Join us for my signature blend of poses and classes designed to be as accessible as possible and specifically for people with chronic pain and fatigue. I am super passionate about this and cannot wait to share this with you.

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

My Top Five Self-Care Plans for 2020

Have you thought about your self-care plans for this year yet? Self-care is as vital as it is undervalued. Especially for busy women juggling multiple priorities. Add in chronic health issues and it should be compulsory.

Accidental multi-tasking is one of my favourite things – a two for one on your energy levels. When self-care doubles as something that also manages my health, I’m pretty stoked.

Here are my top five self-care plans for 2020 that also double as part of my chronic illness management plans.

Meditation


If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you will know that meditation saved my life. I do it every single day, and if I must miss a day it’s very rare. It gives me deep rest my body doesn’t even achieve during sleep. It tops up my energy levels for the afternoon. It calms my central nervous system. It is just for me. 15-30 minutes of pure self-care.

Try it: I have a free challenge for you to try it out for five days.

Do you meditate? Tell us about your practice in the comments!

My top five self care plans for 2020

Yoga


Ya’ll know I LOVE Yoga. Yoga is simultaneously mindful movement (gentle exercise), relaxation, stretching, strengthening, pain management and a sleep aid (for me). It balances the central nervous system which has been key for me.
I have shared extensively how I use it to help me. Here’s the short of it: One off poses, “micro yoga” formal practices (of 10-20 minutes) and a bed time class I made to help me wind down for sleep.

Try it: I have a five minutes a day for five days free challenge so you can see how the tools of yoga can fit into your life.

yoga for chronic pain and fatigue challenge
Join us for the FREE five minutes a day for five days yoga for chronic pain and fatigue challenge

Have you tried this challenge? Please tell me if so!

Getting to bed on time


Sleep is way too underrated. Seriously, lack of sleep will kill you (slowly) and make you feel terrible. I’ve written extensively about it. Going to bed around the same time each night is a key part of good sleep hygiene aka practices that help you sleep.

Try it: Check out this post on sleep and how you can improve it.

Treat yourself


(Who just went, “What? I can’t treat myself. Ain’t nobody got time or money for that! It need not take much money or time!)

What is something that makes you feel super special that doesn’t cost the earth? This year I’d like to attempt something different each quarter: a manicure, a massage, a weekend away with the husband etc. With three kids 5 and under we’ve been snowed under and going to the physiotherapist every month has been the extent of it for me.

Try: Schedule something right now!
A manicure? Book one once a month, schedule a time to do it yourself, or swap with your friend to do each other.
Massage? Book one once a month, swap with your partner, or get out that lavender oil and give yourself a hand and foot massage.
A Saturday morning lie in? Negotiate with the partner if you have kids, or send them to grandparents/aunts/uncles and grab at least one a month.

Journaling


I am an analyst, a thinker, a written processor. So taking the time, even just five minutes to process with my pen is helpful for me to work through things. Even if you’re more of a talker, research shows journaling to be useful. You can have free reign to vent. To get things out of your head. Write down memories. Whatever works.

Try it: You can make a habit of giving yourself 1 or 5 minutes a day, a gratitude journal of just three good things or maybe you could draw in your journal.

Do you journal? Tell us how you do it in the comments.

Want to jump in and get some real, concrete help with your self-care in 2020?

Restorative Yoga for the Chronic Life is open for enrollment now! But only until the 6th of March 2020. We are going to learn some super gentle, relaxing stretches to activate our rest and digest mode so that we can sleep better, relax, reduce tension and more. I’d love for you to join us!

restorative yoga for the chronic life person doing poses

So these were my top five self-care plans for 2020, I’d love to know what are yours?? Tell us in the comments below.

My top five self care plans 2020

Do you enjoy this work? Want to help me ensure people with fibromyalgia receive the tools, encouragement and hope that they deserve? When you join the team to support my work in the pay what you can (starting at just $10 per month) Melissa vs Fibromyalgia membership you will immediately access an exclusive members library of resources and tools.

How to Spend Less on Physical Treatments for Chronic Pain and Decrease Your Pain at the Same Time

I ask group members regularly what topics they would like me to share about, “how to save money on physical therapies” was the top request on the last post where I asked for suggestions. So here I share how you can spend less money on physical treatments for chronic pain and strategies for decreasing your pain at the same time.

What a whopper! As soon as I read the comment, I was formulating ideas. As a person who has tried physiotherapists (many different ones), Eastern practitioners, massage therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, personal trainers (who did not get it) and more, I know the costs involved here. We run a public system here in New Zealand so none of these private physical treatments are funded at all.

When I was at my worst I was going weekly, paying $50 or $60 a session to very little benefit. As I have finally put these things into place I have reduced to three or four weekly – this is a saving of $150-200 per month! That adds up!

These are the things that you can do to reduce the amount of treatments you need from physical therapists (physiotherapists, massage therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, etc.). If they are not necessarily easy, when are they ever?

The four ways of how to spend less on physical treatments for chronic pain

1. Remove or reduce the things that perpetuate the physical issue the physiotherapist/massage therapist/chiropractor etc. has to work on.

This might be a tough one as you may not be willing or able to do the things. For example, working full-time on a computer really exacerbates my neck and shoulders. I cannot, no matter the steps I take to mitigate it, experience less pain and keep doing it. Do you engage in something that aggravates your tricky spots? Is your bed and pillow correct for your needs? Check your breathing!

Let yourself brainstorm as there might be lots of things that come up.

2. Work on the whole of life things

So a lot of our physical issues are related to our overall health. When the fibromyalgia was worse, I needed to see the physical therapists for in search of relief (which never came).

When I changed my entire life – reducing work hours, cutting my commute, moving to a warmer climate, learning to rest (and later meditate), gentle exercise (which for me meant cutting back!) etc. – the amount I needed to see the physical reduced.

3. Finding the right treatment

This alone halved how often I had to go. For severe, recurrent trigger points in my neck – for which I’ve spent at least $1500 per year for over 10 years trying to get some relief from – I have the right practitioner and treatment at last. It’s a physiotherapist who places acupuncture needles into the trigger point, leaves it to relax and then performs gentle traction and stretches. The amount of time and money I spent on massage therapists, physiotherapists, osteopathy and chiropractic is insane.

Ask yourself, does that massage or chiropractic session actually help enough to justify the cost? Does the benefit hold long enough to be justifiable?

4. Learn to do things yourself

This might be the most important and the easiest!

For me, this is copious amounts of stretching/yoga.

I can show you how to “do yoga” in Foundations of Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue, this is a four week beginners course especially for people who have tried the whole stretching and yoga thing and found it near impossible! It is an actual dream come true to be able to share these tools, that have helped me so much, with others.

for the first time i feel like i can do yoga

Restorative Yoga for the Chronic Life is open for enrollment now! But only until the 6th of March 2020. We are going to learn some super gentle, relaxing stretches to activate our rest and digest mode so that we can sleep better, relax, reduce tension and more. I’d love for you to join us!

restorative yoga for the chronic life person doing poses

Meditation is also helpful, especially guided meditations for pain relief and relaxation. You’ve heard me talk about this for years. Insight timer free app.

I also use a Theracane trigger point massager and foam roller. You could self-massage or buy a personal massage aid. This post talks about inexpensive items I use to fight chronic pain.

Always ask a practitioner you see to give you suggestions for things you can do at home and DO them.

So these are my top four ways to spend less on physical treatments (and reduce your pain at the same time). Are you working on any of these areas? What is your favourite way to cope with physical pain?

Do you enjoy this work? Would you like to join the mission to ensure people with fibromyalgia receive the tools, encouragement and hope they deserve and get yourself into the exclusive Melissa vs Fibromyalgia membership library? Become a patron using the pay what you can membership option from just $5 a month today.

Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue

I have been dabbling with yoga for chronic pain and fatigue for more than 10 years. For the past five I have progressively become more enamoured with it.

In this post I will share some research, the benefits (in brief), the thing I love most about yoga, it’s multiple uses for chronic pain and fatigue, specific ways I use it, and how you can learn more about incorporating it into your well being journey.

Let’s be clear right out of the gate. Yoga is not a panacea. It is not a cure all. It is one useful tool that can be a part of a holistic plan for wellness.

yoga for fibromyalgia infographics

Type “yoga for fibromyalgia” or “yoga for myofascial pain syndrome” or “yoga for pain” etc. And you will find a wealth of search options to delve into.

There is research specifically for using poses for myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia and more. Taking a more macroscopic view, mindfulness for chronic illness is just as much of a buzz topic at the moment.

Research around Yoga, Pain and Fatigue

Take this 2010 study that found, “pain was reduced in the yoga group by an average of 24 percent, fatigue by 30 percent and depression by 42 percent.” The yoga group participated in a holistic program for eight weeks – gentle yoga poses, meditation, breathing exercises, yoga-based coping instructions, group discussions and a daily diary assessing their progress. The control group received standard medication treatments.

This was followed up three months later: “Follow-up results showed that patients sustained most of their post treatment gains, with the FIQR (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire Revised) Total Score remaining 21.9% improved at 3 months. Yoga practice rates were good, and more practice was associated with more benefit for a variety of outcomes.”

This study was small, just eight participants completed the study on the effect of yoga on myofascial pain syndrome in the neck. It comprised two weeks of breathing and relaxation practices and two weeks of asanas (poses), breathing and relaxation. The poses were Trikonasan (triangle pose), Tadasan (mountain pose), Vakrasan (twisted pose), Balasan (child’s pose) and Vajrasan (thunderbolt pose).

However, let’s not lose sight here – Vajrasan is a more advanced pose, the ability to do this pose indicates a pretty high level of physical ability to me.

The results were that this program “led to significant improvement in the quality of health, physical capacity (strength), cervical range of motion, and pressure threshold of the trigger points, and decreased the disability and pain.”

Perspectives on Yoga Inputs in the Management of Chronic Pain describes the benefits: “This consists of decreased metabolism,[24] decreased rate of breathing, decreased blood pressure, decreased muscle tension, decreased heart rate and increased slow brain [alpha] waves.[25] As the neural discharge pattern gets corrected, the habitual deep muscle hyper tonicity and thus the static load on postural muscle also slowly come down. The function of viscera improves with the sense of relaxation and sleep gets deeper and sustained. The fatigue level comes down.”

woman doing yoga

Benefits of yoga for chronic pain and fatigue (or anyone)


• 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

What I love the most about yoga for managing chronic pain and fatigue:

Ease of adapting to my current abilities -Whatever my symptom level on any given day there is an option for me to practice yoga.

yoga for chronic pain and fatigue picture of toolkit

Let’s talk a couple of key things here:
Yoga is a tool, a multi use tool, but a tool nonetheless. I will use any tool at my disposal to help with the symptoms I live with. In much the same way I use low dose naltrexone- it was not designed for fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome but it helps anyway.

If some parts of the spectrum of yoga practices don’t resonate with you, ignore them. If you want to look at it as a purely physical practice, then do so.

In terms of the spiritual side, I shy away from much if it. My belief practice is Christianity and I have never felt a conflict. In fact, there is a great Christian yoga channel on YouTube.

Some of the options in yoga

Asanas (poses): one or two gentle poses (like child’s pose and forward bend), a flowing sequence of 5, 10, 20 or more minutes, chair yoga, bed yoga or restorative yoga.

Pranayama (breathing): breathing is always useful when you are managing a chronic illness. Simply focusing on your breath and helping your exhale to be slightly longer than your inhale will cause a relaxation effect. Breathing through pain, fatigue, stress, anxiety and overwhelm can help centre your thoughts on something else, release tension and help to ease the symptoms. Synchronising movements with the breath makes you more likely to be mindful of your movement and less likely to overdo it or injure yourself.

Meditation: I began using meditation specifically to achieve rest where sleep provided little. It was a means to an immediate end. After a few years I realised it was helping me much more profoundly in the form of turning down my central nervous system overdrive. There is nothing better than the comfort I feel after a 20 or 30 minute yoga nidra meditation. I cannot achieve it another way.

Day to day my practice changes but I usually practice in one way or another.

Meditation is my top tool for managing fatigue and pain. I very rarely miss my daily meditation.

I have never completed a 60 or 90 minute class or resembled a pretzel in any way. Because that is not the point.

Strengthening, calming, being mindful and moving is.

When my first son was young I had a yoga instructor come to my house for a private session to ensure my posture was correct and craft a sun salutation sequence suitable for my physical abilities at the time.

Sometimes I do the sequence with several breaths for each pose, one breath for each pose or a mix. If I feel a particular benefit from one of the poses I will engage in that one longer. Forward bend is a particularly good one for letting the neck gently stretch.

Cat and cow pose is a great tiny sequence for the pelvis and back. I did this multiple times a day during my pregnancies. I teach cat and cow pose in my free challenge, Five Minutes a Day for Five Days Challenge, sign up here.

When my pelvis was unstable due to pregnancy and I could hardly walk, I could still do half sun salutations (standing) or chair salutations.

The key is to be mindful of your body on any given day. Pay attention to what you need and can reasonably do.

Learn the many options- these tools have a place in our natural pain relief toolkit.

The complexity in yoga for chronic pain and fatigue

When we have extra challenges to think through, we need to be extra mindful. 

There is some complexity involved in practicing yoga when you have chronic issues. This is why it can be helpful to see a teacher privately – either for some initial guidance or ongoing personalised work. 

There are several types of yoga, many asana (poses) to choose from and we need to choose sequences that make sense for our current context. The other bonus is that you can create a homework plan so that you can continue your work between sessions, equipping you further.

As an example of the complexity – I have severe, recurring trigger points in my neck and shoulders. Holding poses that activate these muscles for up to five minutes (yin yoga) is not a good idea for me. I have a heat intolerance so hot yoga isn’t for me. The fibromyalgia and poor tense fascia responds well when given a chance to gently release.  So I gravitate toward slow flow and gentle yoga. 

I trained to be a yoga teacher because I got so frustrated with doing “beginner” classes that we out of my reach physically and for the time frame. I also wanted to share these tools to show you that “yoga” doesn’t mean 90 minute classes getting into very bendy positions. 

This is also why I created the below challenge!

Learn how we can use the tools of yoga in just five minutes a day?

Join us for the challenge!

yoga for chronic pain and fatigue challenge
Join us for the FREE five minutes a day for five days yoga for chronic pain and fatigue challenge

Join us for five minutes per day for five days and see how the tools of yoga might be of service to you.

restorative yoga for the chronic life person doing poses

I’d love to hear from you – have you found benefit from any of the tools of yoga? 

Yoga for Chronic Fatigue: A Book Review

It isn’t a secret that I adore yoga and meditation as tools for managing the chronic fatigue and pain associated with fibromyalgia.

I read and reviewed Kayla’s first book Yoga for Chronic Pain and loved it, so I was super excited to read her second book Yoga for Chronic Fatigue.

Yoga for chronic fatigue book review

In the first part Kuran explains chronic fatigue, the part the central nervous system is theorized to play and how the parasympathetic nervous system can help:

“When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, you’ll notice
that:

Digestion improves

Your muscles relax

Your heart rate slows down

You can breathe deeper” part one understanding chronic fatigue syndrome

Interestingly after years practicing my meditation and yoga I have noticed all of these benefits in my daily life – particularly improved digestion and relaxed muscles.

In part three, The Yogic View of Chronic Fatigue, we are introduced to Ayurveda and yoga’s holistic view of health.

Kuran explains complex ideas with clean, concise language such as the theory of the central nervous system’s part in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and yogic components such as Ayurveda.

Step three goes through mindfulness as a tool for healing. (Which I am super passionate about!)

Step four discusses using the breath as an energy source, “Pranayama can increase your fitness and energy levels – without getting out of bed!”

Step five is the actual yoga! Kuran provides a more active routine, a gentle restorative routine and discusses yoga Nidra.

“Like other forms of meditation, yoga Nidra helps release serotonin and decrease cortisol which lowers your stress response.” I adore yoga Nidra and it’s a vital part of my coping when I’m tired, especially when I have tiny babies and am not sleeping much at night – so I always enjoy learning more about it.

I loved the suggestion that even in a flare up we can do yoga. Practicing yoga doesn’t mean a big routine or even physical movement – Kuran points out that even visualizing yourself doing yoga poses can be useful. A breathing practice while lying in bed is sufficient. This makes yoga such a useful tool for those fighting chronic fatigue – its adaptability.

If you enact the action points suggested at the end of each step you will be a long way toward a holistic healing process.

I highly recommend this book and yoga if you struggle with chronic fatigue.

Get your reading on

Purchase your copy from Amazon here. (Affiliate link: Please note that if you make a purchase using my link, I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you).

If you love reading like me try Amazon Kindle Unlimited Membership – you can try your first month free and access unlimited reading or listening on any device! They now have magazines too! It’s also available for those of us who use Amazon.com.au *squee*.

If audio books are more your speed, as they are for me with three little ones, you know you can get a free trial of Audible on Amazon here. I’ve recently started reading a lot more audio books as the hands free option is far easier to access with the wee ones. You will get access to two audio books, plus two Audible Originals, and other cool membership options for 30 days. Cancel anytime if you don’t want the full subscription.

Yoga for chronic fatigue

See my review of Kayla’s first book!

Join us for this special course to utilise mindfulness and meditation in your journey.

Mindfulness for the chronic life

Normal Human Needs to Help Manage Fibromyalgia -Fibromyalgia Framework Series Finale

I can’t believe it is the last part of the Fibromyalgia Framework Series! Normal human needs are an often overlooked component in our wellness journey.

In this series we have talked:

I hope that you have learnt heaps and have lots of things to try.

Today we are going to delve into normal human needs and a little deeper into how yoga helps me.

Fibromyalgia Framework Series Part Eight Managing Normal Human Needs to Help Fibromyalgia

NORMAL HUMAN NEEDS

I have held this belief for a long time, that we are human beings first and foremost, so there are some crucial keys to wellbeing that ought to be followed, whether we have a chronic illness or not. We cannot heal an illness such as fibromyalgia without having an overall healthy lifestyle. We cannot throw pills at this problem while not looking after our body. Our body is an interconnected being – what effects one area will effect another.

It is far beyond the scope of anything I can go over here, but I will I briefly outline some general lifestyle tips that will help us to live well, especially once we have begun to address the other parts of this series.

Address other health issues

For me this includes managing myofascial pain syndrome as it definitely contributes to the fibromyalgia and vice versa. For some this will be thyroid issues, other nutritional deficiencies, other conditions such as migraines etc.

Gentle exercise

Gentle exercise is very useful in helping our body to move and loosen up. Every human being is recommended to exercise for wellbeing. I will go into this in more detail below.

Healthy eating

Avoiding any foods we are allergic or intolerant to and making good choices to fuel our body.

Getting enough sleep

Although this is more difficult for us than most, it is a vital human need.

Address trauma

Some of us might need to address any emotional issues that may have contributed to our situation including childhood trauma or very stressful events that have occurred. You could tackle this alone through expressive writing or mindfulness. You may benefit from finding a counsellor.

Managing stress

This is going to be an ongoing and vital part of helping us to manage our condition. We are even more susceptible to stress due to our overactive nervous system.

Human relationships

Human beings are social creatures, even introverted people need some level of social proximity. I was able to make up for the lack of people in real life who understood the fibromyalgia with virtual connections in a couple of great Facebook groups. If you have people who don’t understand in real life, try to find some online. But try to keep it positive, venting can be useful, but so can solutions-focused discussions.

Hobbies

Just because we are limited in our energy envelopes, doesn’t mean we don’t deserve passion. Find what makes you happy and pursue it. Even if you have to adapt it for now, or ongoing.

Below we will chat about yoga and gentle exercise.

YOGA (OR GENTLE EXERCISE)

Yoga is one of many gentle exercise options for people with chronic pain and fatigue. One of the golden rules for fighting Fibromyalgia is to keep moving. Walking is my go-to form of movement, a gentle walk in the sunshine has multiple benefits for mind and body.  There are a ton of ways to move besides yoga and walking: a simple stretch, tai chi, Pilates, swimming, aqua jogging, weight lifting… the list is long.

We shouldn’t be doing so much that our pain and fatigue levels skyrocket, the aim is for better quality of life, not worse. If walking is currently out of reach, then stretch or wander around in a warm pool or try yoga.

Type “Yoga for Fibromyalgia” into Google and you will find a wealth of information trails to follow. Countless blogs and articles cover the benefits of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness for people with Fibromyalgia.

Find an entire post here  about yoga benefits, how I utilise it and some links to get you started if you’re curious.

Yoga for fibromyalgia my experience research with podcast video

Non-Yoga Workout
Here is the YouTube channel of a person who makes fitness videos especially for people with chronic pain and fatigue.

ACTIONS: Come and chat about any or all of these things at Melissa (you) vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group.

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So that completes our series!

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If you have loved this series and would like all of the content and templates in one place, with space to write notes as you go…find it physically here (affiliate) and digitally here.

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Yoga for Chronic Pain by Kayla Kurin Book Review

“Yoga and meditation led me to a new way of thinking about my body and about what the worlds ‘illness’ and ‘health’ mean. It gave me the tools I needed to manage my pain and fatigue, and live a full life, even when I wasn’t feeling my best. Eventually, it led to my full recovery.” – Kayla Kuran, Yoga for Chronic Pain: 7 Steps to Aid Recovery from Fibromyalgia with Yoga.
If you’ve been following my work for any amount of time you’ll know I’m obsessed with yoga and meditation.
Yoga is a multi use tool for strength and pain management. Meditation is my favourite tool for deep rest and pain relief and has decreased my funky fight or flight response.
Yoga for Chronic Pain Book Review image
Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
As soon as I heard about Kayla Kuran’s book Yoga for Chronic Pain: 7 Steps to Aid Recovery from Fibromyalgia with Yoga, I was like “Me! Me! Pick me!” And Kayla kindly sent me a copy.
The book begins with Kayla’s journey and how yoga helped her on her journey to wellness.

 If you love reading you can try Amazon Kindle Unlimited! Just sign up here Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans. Amazon Kindle Unlimited gives you unlimited reading (say what?), unlimited listening to their audiobooks.

Step one invites you to learn about your pain.
Here we learn the difference between acute and chronic pain and how chronic pain affects the autonomic nervous system.
There’s a good action point here – start a journal and track your symptoms and what the context was to catch the patterns.
Step two delves into the science of yoga.
Here we learn about the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda and how it helped Kayla on her journey. Ayurveda provides a more individualized answer for us and is holistic in nature.
Step three is all about taming the mind through mindfulness.
Here I found the answer as to why meditating instead of attempting to nap (and getting frustrated about being unable to) – because I’m focusing on what I can control (practicing meditation) and not on what I can’t (sleep). The frustration is secondary and controllable. The sleep is primary and not in my control.
Kayla provides five ways to use meditation. And encourages us to set a mindful goal for your pain management plan. Something we can control (like meditating instead of napping, doing some breathing practice before bed).
Step four using breath as am energy source and takes you through some options for practice. Here she talks about Yoga Nidra guided meditation which I adore for coping with sleep deprivation.
Step five yoga postures to relieve pain – this is the jam!
“Yoga and meditation help rewire the brain. In yoga we call this namaskar, and in the scientific world, it’s called neuroplacticity.” 
There are two practices offered – a morning flow and an evening restorative and both are just lovely. There is also guidance for making a flare up plan that involves yoga.
Step six self care – this includes yogic self care such as massage, meditation and following your passions. There’s also some good tips for getting sleep and for reorienting how you think about sleep.
Step seven invites us to take mindfulness into daily life.
If you enact the actions Kayla provides, you will certainly be on a positive step on your way to fighting Fibromyalgia.
You can get your copy of Yoga for Chronic Pain here.

Nerdy note:

If you read a lot, like me (I read around 100 books per year), then you might like Amazon Kindle Unlimited! Just sign up here. Amazon Kindle Unlimited gives you unlimited reading (say what?) and unlimited listening to their audio books. If brain fog is an issue and you need to re read over again, it’s all there. Happy reading! It’s also available for those of us who use Amazon.com.au *squee*.

 

If audio books are more your speed, as they are for me with three little ones, you know you can get a free trial of Audible on Amazon here. I’ve recently started reading a lot more audio books as the hands free option is far easier to access with the wee ones. You will get access to two audio books, plus two Audible Originals, and other cool membership options for 30 days. Cancel anytime if you don’t want the full subscription.


For more information

Sign up to my free eCourse You vs Fibromyalgia

 

You can find my book, which is everything I know and do to fight Fibromyalgia, including yoga and meditation here:

Melissa vs Fibromyalgia book cover

Yoga for Fibromyalgia with Handy Links

Given that I have a lot going on between two tiny children, a shift-working husband, starting part-time work again soon, living with a chronic illness and writing about said illness – I don’t have a lot of time. Long walks, one hour Pilates and yoga routines and gym sessions are well in my past, like the distant past. Prior to Noah I had worked up to 20 minutes of Pilates and 30 minutes of walking at a time. Prior to Wyatt I had worked up to 30 minutes of both at a time. Since Wyatt I have had little energy and even less time. But movement is so important that I must prioritise it if I hope to be well.
So I try to move every day.
I have written about the adaptability of yoga – and that I love that about it – I can use yoga whatever my physical state. Sometimes it’s one pose. Other times it’s a full sun salutation series. There’s also chair yoga, half sun salutations and far more than I’ve ever delved into.
As I go into this very busy 2018, I am making a commitment to myself to move every day.

Here’s an example of how I wove yoga into my day yesterday:

  • Half sun salutations before getting dressed
  • Forward bend while waiting for baby to drink his bottle before his nap
  • Yoga Nidra meditation while baby was napping
  • Knees into the chest pose just before bed to relieve my lower back
Yoga may not be your cup of tea, and that’s OK  I’d encourage you to set a goal of movement and stick to it. In order to do that you must like your chosen movement. There are a ton of them. Walking, tai chi, Pilates, swimming, aqua jogging, weight lifting…the list is long.
yoga for fibromyalgia

My free PDF report about Yoga for Fibromyalgia (benefits, research, how I use it plus more links) is available in my free resources page. Sign up here to access it.

I did some research into some good poses for neck and back release and strengthening because this is really an area of issue for me, here’s what I found:

10 Yoga Poses for Neck Pain and Spondylosis – That Changed my Life – the author includes sun saluations! And knee to chest post!

Here are some gentle yoga for fibromyalgia options:

10 Chair Yoga Poses for Home Practice – chair forward bend is delicious!

Bonus if you’re travelling soon!

How to do Yoga on a Plane -even just seated cat and cow pose will be nice!

Bonus if you want to build some strength while you’re at it:

 

I hope there are some things here to get you started. I’ll post updates on my Twitter @thefibromama of how my move every day challenge goes. Feel free to post yours! #moveeveryday

For more information:

My Favourite Five Pain Management Mechanisms – Pregnant or Not!

Pain management is a big concern with chronic pain and fibromyalgia. There are a lot of things touted as helpful for dealing with pain. It can take a lot of trial and error to find what helps us. So I thought I’d provide my favourite five pain management mechanisms that I utilise daily as a potential starting point for you. These are pregnancy and nursing safe too.

 
favourite five pain relief options

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

My top five natural pain management options video for those that prefer to listen or watch

https://youtu.be/aWYv7NmhjiE

The list:

1. Heat pack

Heat is my favourite pain management mechanism ever. I use my heat pack multiple times a day and take it to bed when I first hop in. I was using a heatpack long before I started researching and fighting the fibromyalgia actively, my body seeks heat when in pain.
 
Edit 2020: I have found something even better than my tiny microwavable heat pack! An electric heating pad designed to fit the neck and shoulders. It has made such a difference to be able to simultaneously treat my neck and back at the same time. It is also great in the middle of the night, I tend to wake with a sore neck in the early hours, now I don’t have to drag myself out of bed to get the heat pack! I simply turn this on and then wake up with the children in semi-functioning shape. It is truly the best tool I have tried in a long time.

2. Warm bath

Bonus add Epsom salts
Following on from the heat pack, a hot bath is my favourite time out and relaxation technique. When my lower body is very sore, this is the only way to release the cramps – for these times I have it rather hot. When I was in my third trimester with my second baby I’d end up in a hot bath that just covered my thighs just about every afternoon.
 
Other posts you might like

3. Yoga

Cat and cow pose
Yoga is a multi use pain management tool. I use it for strength, flexibility, pain relief and relaxation. When my back is sore and tight I’ll do cat and cow pose slowly, with my breath for a minute for so. This was super useful when I was dealing with the symphysis pubis disorder (when your pelvis widens too far in pregnancy and can stay that way for some time after delivery).

If you want to give yoga a go and see how you can fit it into your journey try my free challenge: Five minutes a day for five days.
 

4. Meditation

This has been an emotionally bolstering find. Especially when I have slept particularly badly and am exhausted. I no longer bother trying to nap and then get frustrated because I can’t. It is relaxing for body and mind. It can bring pain and fatigue levels down. I wrote a giant post about this here and have a chapter in my book and an entire course dedicated to it!

Join the mindfulness for your daily life free challenge.
 

5. Magnesium oil (pregnant) essential oils (not, or after first trimester)

Every night since my second pregnancy I have applied magnesium oil before bed. I never had an excruciating calf cramp during that pregnancy. I’m only at the beginning of my natural topical pain relief journey. Lavender and chamomile is a lovely combination for massaging onto sore muscles. It also makes a lovely bath oil. This is a whole other topic that I’ll research, experiment with and write up on the blog.
Please note that it is not recommended to ingest oils during pregnancy or to use essential oils during the first trimester – for the same reasons we try to minimise medicine use in pregnancy, there isn’t enough data to consider it safe.
 
I’d love to hear your go-to natural pain relief options!
 

For more information:

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