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Manage Fibromyalgia With Yoga

Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by overall body pain which makes it often feel like cramps or arthritis. It is rather a disorder of the soft tissues found throughout the body. Soft tissues work as intermediate paddings between various organs and other tissues. The cause of fibromyalgia is not clearly known; it is thought that the problem lies in how the body responds to environmental and physical factors causing exhaustion and pain. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition and responds well to therapy. Yoga practices that can strengthen the nervous system's pain-processing section besides healing the soft tissues, are discussed in this article.

Introduction

Myalgia is the term for pain and tenderness in a muscle. Fibromyalgia is therefore an inflammatory condition of the fibrous connective tissues of the body. It is essentially prevalent in the body wherever there are connective tissues. In fibromyalgia, it is not the pain itself that makes the person so uneasy, but it is the fact that fibromyalgia feels more painful than it actually is, for example, a woman having developed fibromyalgia may complain that her menstrual cramps have recently intensified to unbearable limits. It is thought that the pain processing mechanism of the body is disturbed in fibromyalgia.
Yoga Tips For Fibromyalgia

Pain-sensing Mechanism of Our Body

The spinal cord is a part of the central nervous system i.e. it originates from the base of the brain and acts as the conveyor of all stimuli and the body's response to them. It has a network of nerves originating through it and reaching the farthest ends of the body for communication of sensing and action as the need be. The nerves form the peripheral nervous system. The communication through various parts of the nervous system occurs in a way similar to how electric signals are transported via wires. Therefore messages of the nervous system are also called signals. The spinal cord is protected and enclosed within the vertebral column. However, the nerves are not protected and sometimes get pinched i.e. pressed and closed between the joints of the vertebral column. This gives rise to many painful conditions of 7 the body that appear to the individual as several times more painful than they actually are. It is also said that fibromyalgia is not painful itself but it is the condition of the amplification of pain signals.

Symptoms

Fibromyalgia can cause or intensify the following sensations in the body:
  • Widely located pain: the whole body or a major part of the body may seem painful.
  • Fatigue: the person may feel too tired even for day to day activities requiring no great effort.
  • Facial pain: painful chewing, or other movements such as brushing the teeth, combing hair, applying makeup, etc.
  • Leg pain that worsens at night: the legs may feel extremely restless and painful especially when the body is at rest.
  • Extreme sensation of temperature changes: even when there is a small change in the temperature of the environment or ambient temperature of one's house or office, a person with fibromyalgia may sense it and respond to it.
  • Reduced brain performance: the brain's ability to understand and process information reduces in case of any nervous disorder.
  • Dizziness & confusion: dizziness and confusion are also the signs of a fatigued brain.
  • Lack of energy and enthusiasm: the person's physical and mental discomforts may combine to result in an overall reduced energy and enthusiasm to do things or even live life.
  • Feeling of dissatisfaction: intense feelings of 'low' can also contribute to the person ending up feeling dissatisfied with life or their own performance.

Causes

The causes contributing to any disease could be physical or lifestyle-related, but in case of fibromyalgia the causes are somewhere between physical and mental.
  • Confused central nervous system: the central nervous system is not able to process signals properly.
  • Mental trauma that came with an injury: when incidents such as road accidents or medical mishappenings combine with grief, fibromyalgia can find a cure in the individual.

Risk Factors

There are no risk factors as such, but a person with other disorders of the nervous system is more susceptible to developing fibromyalgia.

Diagnosis

There is no standardized test for detection of fibromyalgia. A competent therapist shall use behavioral assessment and arrive at a therapeutic plan for you just after asking you a few questions.

Modern Treatment

A definitive treatment plan doesn't exist for fibromyalgia. Rest is advised along with the physical therapies such as acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic therapy, etc. During the course of these therapies, pain relieving medications are sometimes used.

Yoga For Easing Fibromyalgia

We should remember that fibromyalgia is less of a disease and more of a mental condition. Therefore an integrated approach is required which is capable of healing the mind and the body together. The following routine should be practiced, starting with some asanas and progressing on towards Pranayama and relaxation meditation.
1. Trikonasana: known as the triangle pose, this pose enhances blood circulation and prepares the body for the effects of exercises 4 and 5.
  • Stand with the legs wide apart. Raise both arms at the sides of the body parallel to the ground.
  • Bend forwards and touch the right foot with the left hand. The torso shall rotate accordingly.
  • Perform on the other side similarly.
  • Perform 10 rounds.
2. Vyaghrasana: Known as the tiger pose, this is a dynamic exercise. This shall balance the chemical and physical processes of both the cerebral hemispheres.
  • Stand on all fours i.e. kneel and place the palms on the floor.
  • Keep the elbows and the knees relaxed but firm.
  • Inhale and drop the back to make it a downward curve. Face should be upright.
  • Now extend the left arm and the right leg straight and parallel to the ground.
  • Exhale and form an upward curve with the back. The face should be down and the chin close to the neck.
  • Extend the right arm and the left leg parallel to the ground.
  • Repeat each position ten times.
  • Relax the neck and the back.
  • Lift the palms from the mat.
  • Perform thirty rounds.
3. Padmasana: Padmasana has been used by yogis since ages to enhance the functioning of the central nervous system.
  • Sit with the legs outstretched.
  • Place the right foot on the left thigh and place the left foot on the right thigh.
  • Keep the spine straight and the whole body relaxed.
  • Keep breathing deeply and normally.
  • Sit in this pose for as long as you would like to.
4. Natarajasana: named after lord Shiva, the king of all the dancers, this is an advanced pose and is extremely beneficial for balancing the nervous and physical equilibrium. It is beneficial for all mental disorders.
  • Stand with the feet equally sharing the weight of the body.
  • Hold the right big toe with the right hand.
  • Raise the left arm in front of the body.
  • Simultaneously, pull the toes of the right foot with the right hand.
  • Balance the whole body on the left leg.
  • Stay in this position for at least 10 seconds.
  • Release and perform on the other side.
  • It may take some time to balance the whole body on one leg, but it can be perfected with practice.
5. Anuloma Viloma Pranayama: a subtle practice, meant for improving the overall nervous performance.
  • Sit with the legs crossed.
  • Close the eyes gently.
  • The back should be straight and relaxed.
  • The wrists should rest on the knees in default position.
  • Put the index finger and the ring finger of the right hand on the forehead on top of the nose.
  • Use the thumb to close the right nostril.
  • Inhale with the left nostril.
  • Close the left nostril with the ring finger.
  • Exhale with the right nostril.
  • Inhale with the right nostril and close it with the thumb.
  • Exhale with the left nostril.
  • Practice ten respirations in this way.
  • This is one round. Practice three rounds.
6. Bhramari Pranayama: This humming bee practice stimulates normal and healthy functioning of the brain and the spinal cord. It is a great practice for entering meditation.
  • Sit with the legs crossed.
  • The spine and the back should be straight and relaxed.
  • Close the eyes gently.
  • Gently plug both the ears with the thumbs of both hands.
  • Put the fingers on each eye.
  • Inhale deeply, and with exhalation, make a deep humming sound like a bee.
  • Practice thrice
7. Yogic Nidra: A relaxation meditation, the Yoga Nidra is also known as ‘yogic sleep’ where the body is reenergized as it is in actual sleep, in much less time. It is actually more beneficial than an actual sleep. It should be guided for non-adepts. It is done by first practicing Shavasana.
  • Lie down in Shavasana.
  • Start by moving the attention towards the feet. After a few seconds, move the attention up through the legs, the pelvis, the back, the abdomen, the arms, the thorax, the neck, to the head.
  • Observe the whole body.
  • Breathing should be regular and relaxed.
  • When guided, wake up and end the session.
✓ Yoga Nidra relaxes the whole body.
✓ It rejuvenates the mind and relieves stress.
✓ It treats all chronic physical and mental disorders.

Sometimes, when the condition of an individual doesn’t allow them to perform any other yoga practices such as asana or Pranayama, Yoga Nidra is the only safe and feasible treatment for a patient.

Lifestyle/Dietary Tips

In addition to the above routine, just three tips should be followed to enhance the effects of the yoga practices:
  • Tea: A tea of herbs that are specifically known as brain tonics such as Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) and Sankhapushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) should be consumed.
  • Ayurvedic diet: a diet that is Sattvic and prescribed as ideal for one's ayurvedic body type should be eaten.
  • High quality fats: high quality fats found in nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, olives and sesame seeds etc. should be made a part of daily diet.

Conclusion

The nervous system plays the most important role in how our body deals with situations. It is therefore necessary for the management of fibromyalgia that the signal processing of the central nervous system be rectified. The yoga practices described here act on the central nervous system via symmetrically balanced movements of the body. Practice should be begun upon consultation with a competent yoga therapist. Symptoms shall take some time to improve, and all changes should be communicated to the therapist so that they can modify the routine as felt right for the condition of the individual and at pace with the improvement in the symptoms. Fibromyalgia is manageable.
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Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan

MD (AYURVEDA)

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