Yoga and Fibromyalgia – Marla’s story

Marla had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and wanted to be able to do regular exercise.  She felt that the Yoga for Pain program would help her work toward that goal by teaching her to relax and improve fitness.

Tailoring yoga for fibromyalgia
Yoga can help those with fibromyalgia to build physical capacity but general classes in the community are often simply too much.

“Ordinary yoga is now too strenuous”, Marla said.

We needed to help Marla’s nervous system de-sensitise, while increasing her range of activity.  This would allow her to build strength and fitness without activating the stress response often experienced by those with fibromyalgia after exercise.

A pain-free body means changing the way we think
Over the 12-week Yoga for Pain program Marla practiced the foundations for effortless movement: relaxation, whole body awareness and mindful movement.  She also learnt how the ethics of a yoga practice (such as ahimsa, non-violence) can help cultivate a better relationship the self and how to continuously develop her physical capacity and self-understanding without suffering a “flare up”.

Marla now attends classes weekly and is able to do some of the strong postures she once did.  There is a different quality to the way she does these:

“When I move slowly I can feel the transitions.  There is so much richness in the slow-ness.”

But while Marla was feeling much better through her combination of treatments, she knew that something still wasn’t right in her body.  She saw her GP to investigate.  The tests revealed Hashimoto’s Disease, one of the main causes of hypothyroidism.

Calming the nervous system allows us to see things as they are
Fibromyalgia is now recognised as a valid medical diagnosis but it is important to first investigate anything else that could be causing your symptoms.  It is also critical not to assume that any future symptom is fibromyalgia.

When someone diagnosed with fibromyalgia is able to physiologically reduce their stress response and slows down to listen to their body, they are better able to discern the symptoms that are new.  With clarity of mind they can then seek support from a trusted health professional and accurately communicate their experience to get the care they need.

Dates for upcoming Yoga for Pain workshops and courses around Australia are in the schedule here.  We change names and identifying details in some of our case studies for client privacy, while sharing their main learnings with a wider audience.  

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