30 May Finding Yoga with Fibromyalgia – Maeve’s story
Maeve was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which she attributed to a back injury during her pregnancy. She wanted to be more comfortable and pain free than she was and to feel less tired, but was concerned that holding yoga postures and lying on mats would exacerbate her sacro-iliac pain and sciatica.
Maeve’s musculoskeletal physiotherapist recommended that Maeve attend Gentle Yoga for Pain to help her learn to relax, move safely and manage her pain.
Tailoring yoga for Fibromyalgia
Yoga can help those with Fibromyalgia relax tight muscles, manage stress and gently re-introduce their bodies to exercise.
But Fibromyalgia sufferers tend to find that even a beginners yoga class is too much.
I had to help Maeve learn to move without fearing that it would make her pain worse.
Learning to trust the body – the role of yogic education
At her first one-to-one session, I introduced Maeve to the concepts of full body awareness, effortless movement and intentional practice. I helped her perform very small movements that helped her to feel safe. I also explained the importance of taking your emotional capacity for exercise into account as well as your physical capacity.
With these basics in place, Maeve joined the Yoga for Pain group classes and began a home practice. She was gradually able to comfortably attempt more physically challenging postures.
She wrote to me to say:
“This yoga practice has been extremely helpful in improving my general wellbeing and decreasing my experience of pain.”
Changing what it means to be well
At her initial consult, Maeve disclosed that she felt most well when lying in her recliner. Five months later she said “I am most well when I pace myself”, showing she recognised the role she could play in her own wellness.
Now Maeve says that she is most well when she has practiced yoga and is doing the things she loves, such as spending time with family and friends and gentle outdoor activities, even though she may not be pain free during these activities.
I realise now that “being well” means acceptance of life as it is now, not as it would be if I were pain free. Yoga practice and concepts of yogic education underpinned this realisation.
Benefits of regular yoga show up in tough times
Twelve months after beginning Yoga for Pain, a long car drive caused Maeve’s back to flare up. She couldn’t move.
I ran a guided relaxation for Maeve that helped her find space around her pain. At the end of the session she looked twenty years younger.
Maeve then resumed a regular practice on her own, going right back to basics and again gradually building up.
She is now back in the group classes and her practice is very graceful to watch.
Maeve has also been able to go hiking in Albany and take a flight to China, which continues to expand her sense of what is possible.
How Yoga for Pain helps Fibromyalgia sufferers nurture their whole self
A specially designed yoga practice, using the principles of yogic education, can calm the stress response in Fibromyalgia sufferers and teach them to gently and safely increase their range of movement.
The yoga for pain program helps those with Fibromyalgia to trust their bodies and monitor their own progress. The confidence they build in their physical capacity extends to confidence in their emotional and mental wellbeing, and they find that the fruits of regular practice includes hope and gentle support during tough times.