14 Apr Chronic Fatigue and Yoga – Ellie’s story
Ellie had been suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 16 months. She found restorative yoga beneficial but wanted to continue to develop her practice to build strength, refine her technique, and establish a practice that suited her body.
Ellie was seeing a Counselling Psychologist who recommended Ellie attend my Yoga for Pain program to build her strength in a way that would not exacerbate her fatigue.
Ellie also recognised that yoga could help her sleep better and would give her a sense of freedom and peace in what was a stressful time.
Tailoring yoga for chronic fatigue
For people with chronic fatigue, yoga can re-introduce them to exercise and help manage the stress of their condition. But someone with chronic fatigue may find that even beginner yoga classes are too arduous. A restorative yoga class will help with stress but will not provide exercise.
Ellie needed to learn to practice yoga in a way that worked with the energy levels she had and helped her build energy rather than lose it.
At her first one-to-one yoga session, I introduced Ellie to the concepts of full body awareness, effortless movement and intentional practice. These sessions are semi-structured, with space to inquire into and understand what each person needs and wants for their physical and emotional wellness.
It led to Ellie and I discussing strength in yoga as being something we allow to come through our practice, rather than something that is forced. We articulated the goal to “let her body build up resilience and strength”.
Yoga gives hope
Following the initial personal session, Ellie joined the Yoga for Pain group classes. She participated in gentle movement that allowed her to rest when she needed and pace her movements appropriately.
About two months in, Ellie said:
“Straight after class my body feels recalibrated, everything flowing as it’s meant to.”
She said the yoga had helped increase her body awareness and changed the way she thought about her illness.
“It has encouraged me to feel that I will experience sustained wellness again in the future.”
Strength and resilience
Nine months after commencing, Ellie made the big step to attend one of my vinyasa workshops, which are very physical, lasting two-and-a-half hours. I watched Ellie rest when she needed to, move mindfully, and carefully balance her weight throughout her whole body.
Her practice was graceful and filled with strength that came from within.
Ellie was really pleased to be able to do the whole class, without fatiguing afterwards. Recently, she came along to the second part of the vinyasa workshop series, where she did a handstand – a posture that requires strength, balance and confidence. She said:
“The most valuable thing for me today was seeing and feeling through guidance that I can do things.”
How yoga helps with chronic fatigue
I see so many people who have been fighting through fatigue, trying to do as much as they think they “should” be able to. This tends to lead to more pain and fatigue for days afterwards. The cycle is physically and emotionally draining.
Through a specially designed yoga program, I help individuals who don’t know what they will be capable of from day to day, to re-connect with their body and themselves. They learn to let go of the need to do what they could do in the past; allow their bodies to relax into the yoga posture; and effortlessly access the energy within.
When someone with chronic fatigue learns that they can gently build physical strength and resilience, they find they are also building their emotional and mental resilience. From desperately trying to do what they think they should, they find the self-confidence and self-nurturing to try what is possible.
Yoga for Pain is available as a full program, self-led course or individually through one-to-ones. Email [email protected] to find out more.