As many as 10 million Americans each year are plagued with fibromyalgia. It is a chronic pain disorder that causes pain in the muscles, headaches, extreme fatigue and problems sleeping.
For years, it was not even recognized as a real disease, but now there are medications used to target symptoms.
There is also plenty of research which shows that yoga is beneficial for treating fibromyalgia, and can provide long-term relief. In an eight-week study published in the “Journal of Pain Research” in 2011, researchers found that yoga for fibromyalgia not only helped to relieve fibromyalgia symptoms, but helped in regulating cortisol levels in the body.
Those with fibromyalgia often have pain and tension in the back, shoulders and neck. Certain yoga poses actually target these specific areas. Try the following yoga exercises as part of your regular fibromyalgia treatment plan. Check with your doctor before beginning this or any exercise program.
Gomukhasana – Cow-Faced Pose
Cow-faced pose is an upper body exercise designed to stretch the shoulders and upper back. It improves flexibility in the shoulders and helps relieve tension.
Begin sitting upright on the mat with the knees bent and legs to the right side of the body. Now cross the right leg over the left, bringing the right foot around to the left side. Inhale and raise the left arm up in the air.
Exhale and bend the elbow, dropping the arm behind the upper back. Reach behind you with the right arm and grab onto the left hand. If you are unable to reach the hand, hold onto a strap or belt. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Gently release and repeat the stretch on the opposite side, this time crossing the left leg over the right.
Garudasana – Eagle Pose
Eagle pose is a balancing posture which also stretches the arms, shoulders and upper back. It improves balance and focus while relieving tension in the upper part of the body.
Begin standing upright on your mat, feet together, hands at your sides. Step the right foot in front of the left leg. Balance your weight on your left leg as you raise the right foot off the floor, tucking the right toe behind the calf.
Next bring your arms in front of the body and wind the right arm around the left, bringing your palms together. Maintain your balance as you bend at the knee and sink down slightly into a “mini” squat. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute, breathing deeply. Come up slowly, with control, and repeat the stretch on the opposite side.
Prasaritia Padottanasana – Wide-Leg Forward Bend
Forward bends are excellent for relieving stress and tension in the body. You can add a twist into this variation of wide-leg forward bend to help relieve pain and tension in the neck, shoulders and upper back.
Begin standing upright on the mat. Take a wide stance, at least two or three steps wider than hip-width. Inhale and reach up overhead, lengthening the spine. Exhale and bend forward, reaching for the floor. Drop your head and allow the neck and shoulders to completely relax. Take a few deep breaths here.
Next bring both hands together under the chest and look forward slightly. Twist around to the right, raising the right hand up in the air, and looking up toward the ceiling. Rest your body weight into the left hand. Hold this pose for several deep breaths, then gently unwind and bring both hands back down to the mat. Perform the same twist on the opposite side. This is one set. Repeat for two or three more sets, then slowly come back up to standing.
Parighasana – Gate Pose
Gate pose is a gentle stretch for the arms, shoulders and side of the body. It can be practiced any time you feel pain or tension in the shoulders or upper back.
Come onto the floor in a kneeling position. Stretch the right leg out to the side, resting on the right foot. Inhale and raise the left arm up in the air, and extend the right arm down the right leg. Stretch over to the right and look up at your right hand. Hold this pose for several deep breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
Sarvangasana – Shoulder Stand
Shoulder pose is just as the name implies, a stretch for the shoulders and upper back. Because it is an inversion, it also helps to reverse the effects of gravity on the body, and relieve tension and stress created by normal daily activities.
Begin lying flat on your back on the mat. Inhale and raise the legs up overhead, supporting your lower back with your hands. Breathe deeply as you extend the feet up toward the ceiling. Allow your body weight to rest in the shoulders and upper arms, not the neck. Continue to hold this pose, breathing deeply, for up to one minute.
Savanasana – Corpse Pose
Of course you should always end your yoga for fibromyalgia with a few minutes of total relaxation. But, corpse pose is especially beneficial for those suffering from chronic pain.
Lie flat on your back, arms at your sides, legs open about hip-width apart. Close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply. Let go of your thoughts and relax. As you inhale, fill your body with air and imagine the healing power the oxygen has on your cells. As you exhale, imagine all the pain and stress leaving your body, allowing your muscles to completely relax. Stay in corpse pose for several minutes.