Will Yoga help fibromyalgia as well as aBy Faye Martins

Have you had a student ask, “Will Yoga help fibromyalgia.” Although fibromyalgia is a common disorder, its cause remains a mystery. Symptoms may begin after physical or emotional trauma, stress, or illness; but its onset may also be gradual with unknown triggers. Researchers think that it results when the body amplifies pain signals to the brain, causing conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, and tension headaches.

Fibromyalgia is much more common in women than in men, and at this time there is no cure. Not long ago, male doctors often speculated that fibromyalgia was another one of those imaginary stress related female problems. Just to get fibromyalgia recognized as a legitimate medical problem has taken some time.

Will Yoga help fibromyalgia as well as a prescription? Consult with your doctor about Yoga as an adjunct therapy. In addition to prescription drugs, doctors encourage patients to eat a healthy diet, exercise, and reduce stress. One of the ways to do this is to practice Yogic techniques, and a study in 2010 revealed that there might be a scientific reason for its success.

Published in the journal “Pain,” the findings showed that symptoms of fibromyalgia decreased by 30 percent in over half of the participants in the Yoga training study. A control group of sufferers who maintained their normal schedules experienced no improvement in their symptoms.

According to psychologist James Carson, head of the research team, Yoga may actually change the response of the central nervous system to pain. The information revealed several interesting facts:

• The study used a modified style of Hatha Yoga that lasted two hours.

• Participants spent 40 minutes doing postures, such as Child’s Pose and Warrior I.

• An additional 80 minutes covered breathing exercises, meditation, and support groups that allowed patients to share their ways of coping with pain.

Another study led by Harvard professor Dr. Robert Shmerling also showed improvements in symptoms among participants who practiced Yoga. While additional research comparing Yoga training to other exercises is still needed, similar studies have found gentle exercise techniques, such as tai chi, to be helpful in coping with fibromyalgia.

Will Yoga help fibromyalgia as well as other exercise? Fibromyalgia patients should do low impact exercises with a well-trained teacher in a supportive environment. This points directly toward gentle classes with a competent yoga teacher. Private classes may be a good option, at least in the beginning. It may also be necessary to find additional resources, such as support groups or meditation classes, to receive optimal benefits.

As any form of illness, techniques like energetic bodywork and journaling may complement a gentle Yoga practice.

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