Finding the right exercise to suit you and your chronic illness can be difficult. Yoga can be a great way to gently stretch and the mindfulness approach can have a calming and relaxing effect. However it’s important not to overexert yourself and make sure you only do what feels comfortable. We talked to spiritual zen yoga mentor and author of ‘Yoga, My Bed & M.E.’, Donna Owens, to find out the best way to practice yoga to help manage chronic fatigue.
Go for restorative over hatha yoga
You don’t have to do a yoga “routine” for yoga for CFS. In fact I teach to carry out yoga poses as and when your body needs throughout the day. This helps prevent the build up of physical tension and more aches and pains, while minimising crashes and PEM.
Poses must be gentle, restorative and healing to your body while helping to calm your mind. You need to learn to relax your muscles in the poses (we often tense muscles in poses). This not only relieves tension in both your mind and body but helps to avoid PEM (a tense muscle uses energy and can cause PEM and aches). You must let go of pushing your body and instead surrender into each pose with your breath.
“Doing yoga releases tension from my muscles and tendons better than anything else I’ve tried. Which in turn means less pain, improved mobility and better sleep.” Jennifer @thehealthsessions
Restorative types of yoga (Yin, Zen) focus on holding poses for as long as you need for deep relaxation and healing, rather than moving from pose to pose like in hatha yoga. The restorative poses can incorporate pillows, blankets and props to help you feel safe. It also helps to keep your joints and posture supported in the poses.
Child’s Pose is always a spoonie fave
Poses to try are Savasana, Child’s Pose and a full body stretch. You can do these as many times as you need and for however long you need. You can also incorporate meditation and/or breathing exercises to further deepen the healing and relaxation.
While they are important to your physical wellbeing the yoga poses are only a small part of yoga. So if you can’t practice many or any poses you CAN still practice all the other elements of yoga: mindfulness, breathing, meditation etc.
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