How I yoga for ME/CFS

28 Mar
Philadelphia Skyline. Photo by Jess B.

Philadelphia Skyline. Photo by Jess B.

By the time you read this, I should, all being well, be in Philadelphia with my sister! You can read all about my excitement, wariness and preparation, and a bit more excitement in my post Philly here we come!

As I suspect my ME / CFS addled body may not like the 8 hour flight and the 4 hour time difference, I plan (or rather I’ve been ordered by my GP and my mum…) to spend the first few (at least) days horizontal on my sister’s sofa or asleep in her bed (yep I’m kicking my sis out of her own room and onto her futon…sorry Lou). I’m not sure my mum is even going to let me make myself a cup of tea never mind use the laptop to blog! But hey, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I really don’t know how my body will respond, even a healthy person who travels transatlantic is pretty wiped their first day so I should probably multiply that feeling by about a thousand and I might get to how my ME / CFS body is likely to feel. And even if it seems alright that first day in Philly, as we all know thanks to the delayed reaction to activity in ME / CFS, some time playing invalid and being looked after is probably the best idea all round. But I’m ever hopeful and positive and really really hope that I won’t feel too awful. We shall see. I’ll keep you posted – when I’ve got enough energy and am allowed back near a computer!

In the meantime, so you don’t miss me too much (!) I’ve been very organised with my blog and here’s a post I prepared earlier. I look forward to hearing what you think.

Cat does yoga! Photo source: avantipress.com

Cat does yoga! Photo source: avantipress.com

YOGA : DON’T BE PUT OFF BEFORE YOU TRY IT

I think the most valuable piece of advice about yoga that I can give is: do not, do not, DO NOT, be put off before you get going. A lot of yogic vocabulary tends to be in Sanskrit in honour of  yoga’s ancient origins, for a newcomer this can make yoga seem daunting and like it is only meant for Indian gurus, meditating monks and the ultra fit, in the know skinny blondes. Not falling into any of these categories, I do admit that I found yoga a bit baffling and overwhelming at first. But I persevered and am so happy I did because now I reap huge rewards and I genuinely believe it has helped, and continues to help, my ME/CFS.

I only began practising yoga after my body had completely crashed out with ME/CFS in January 2011. I had gone back to my parents as a result of my being so ill. After spending 6 weeks or so horizontal and mostly asleep on their sofa (as that was literally all I had the energy to do) my mum, a lifelong yoga devotee, encouraged me to try a few yoga poses as a gentle activity I could build up as my strength increased and that might ease my aching muscles.

IN THE BEGINNING 

Armed with my mum’s beginners yoga book (which came from the 1970s, but luckily yoga pre-dates that time by many centuries) I embarked gingerly down the yoga road. At first I was only practising a couple of postures a day, maybe a tree, a rag doll and warrior, totaling no more than 10 minutes. But over the last two years I’ve gradually increased this to 15 and then 20 minutes. I built myself up to being able to do downward dog, bridge and shoulder stand to name but a few postures.

MY YOGA TODAY

Now I practice for 25 – 30 minutes each morning and some days again late afternoon or before bed. I practice at home, sometimes with my mum, but other times with books, DVDs and yoga podcasts as my teacher. My aim is to get well enough to be able to travel to and cope with an actual yoga class. But for now, I immensely enjoy my practice at home.

Some days I stick with seated or lying down gentle restorative poses. I never hold any individual pose for very long so as not to strain my tired muscles – I find my stamina has improved over time but is still not particularly good. On better ME / CFS days I can now practise one or two sequences such as this gentle flow from yogajournal.com. Recently I’ve also introduced Sun Salutations into my practice. Although I do this in time with my breath, I do it very slowly and perhaps only one or two repetitions on each side. But over time I hope to build myself up further.

I’ve found how much yoga I’m able to do, is a good benchmark for our how far I’ve come and for how I’m feeling on a particular day. On down days I may not practice for very long but I always try and practice a little. If my body hurts whilst I’m practising, then I try gentler poses or on the worst days I simply lie down on my mat and rest in corpse pose (savasana).

YOGA & HEADACHES

I’ve talked before about how yoga eases my headaches and I really think yoga helps. Even after a short session of simple lying down stretches and gentle forward bends my head feels clearer and lighter.

I am calmer and happier through my yoga practice. Even on very fatigued days, yoga eases the  lethargy and that horrible sluggish feeling. It just seems to get the blood and energy flowing a little better.

HAVE ME / CFS? TRY YOGA!

As you can probably guess I would recommend you try yoga. Maybe I should get t-shirts printed or hire someone to walk around wearing a sandwich board emblazoned with the words ‘ Have ME/CFS?  Try yoga!!’. Perhaps not…

Seriously though, take it slowly, be gentle and listen to your body, but do try yoga and see what it can do for you.

In future posts I will talk about the books, DVDs and audios that I use in my yoga practice, all of which are suitable for those with ME/CFS so stay tuned if you want to know more!

In the meantime why not check out my Links Page for some yoga related links and much more.

READ MORE about yoga for headaches and READ MORE about ME / CFS and yoga here.

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10 Responses to “How I yoga for ME/CFS”

  1. yoga May 23, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Great website. I enjoyed reading your content. Keep up the good work. I will definitely come back and check your site out again soon.

    • myjourneythrume May 23, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

      Thanks for visiting and commenting! Come back soon 🙂

  2. Kayla April 6, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    I’d take one of those shirts! Can’t believe I just saw this post now- great intro to yoga!

  3. thebetterwaycfs April 6, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    Reblogged this on The Better Way Yoga and Wellness and commented:
    Lovely inspirational thoughts on how Yoga provided support for M.E

  4. Jen April 6, 2014 at 9:54 pm #

    What an encouraging post! Having loved yoga before I fell ill it is so nice to see that CFS and yoga are not mutually exclusive. I look forward to your future posts on the subject!

    • myjourneythrume June 24, 2014 at 8:20 am #

      Thank you! CFS and yoga in my experience are very much not mutually exclusive. In fact I’d say yoga is one of the most suitable forms of ‘exercise’ for us. It’s so adaptable – you can do it standing, sitting, lying, on a chair etc – so you can adjust it to however your body feels on that particular day.

  5. someonesideaofluxury April 7, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    Order two sandwich boards or t-shirts, I’ll wear the other one! 😉

  6. danIelle May 16, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    Supported inversions ARE THE ONE with my own chronic myofascial pain disorder.

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