What: Yoga literally means union. I like to see it as a practice that unites body and mind. It involves wearing comfortable clothes, going to some classes to learn the moves, bending, stretching, breathing, meeting interesting people and feeling good. However beneath the surface a whole lot more goes on, all of which lead to you being a more balanced and healthy individual.
Why: There’s a reason Yoga has been practiced for over 5000 years. The general idea is that it is beneficial to mind, body and soul. But on a purely physical level if practiced regularly and with care it can increase strength, blood flow, flexibilty, improves posture, mood and concentration. Plus in time it even makes certain Kama Sutra poses seem a little less impossible.
Specific Tips for CFS/ME
- I’ve found any posture that causes blood to flow to my head to be very rejuvenating. These poses are called inversions and I find a supported shoulder stand to be best way to relieve a headache.
- Simply choosing 3 very relaxing poses like the child’s pose, mountain pose and corpse pose is a great way to ease into body no matter how exhausted you feel.
- Yogic breathing exercises are a great way to kickstart your naps or rests in the afternoon to ensure you don’t just spend the whole time worrying about things.
- Be extra, super quadruply gentle with yourself. Build up very slowly and think about it as a relaxing practice to connect with the body and breath rather than exercise.
My Experience: Since starting my own Yoga practice 5 years ago it has become a central part of my life. I originally went to a class to address some lower back pain I was experiencing. It helped. Since then I have been to a range of different classes around the world experiencing yoga in its many shapes and sizes.
I see it as a foundation for good health and incorporate a Yoga session into my daily routine whenever I can, often combining it with electronic music and home made dance routines to stretch the different muscle groups. Yoga has taught me more than I could possibly imagine leading me deeply into meditation and spirituality. Often I don’t have enough energy for an intensive practice and have recently found a gentle class specifically designed for people recovering from illness to be very beneficial.
How Much: Aim to go to one class a week until eventually you feel confident to begin your own practice at home. The most important thing to remember is that a good session of yoga takes into account exactly where you are at. Don’t copy the human pretzel next to you, listen to your body, it will know exactly how far and how long to go for. No matter how tired you feel there is a yoga pose you can do that will help you relax and feel that little bit better.
- Here is an interview with Alex Howard who found Yoga to be a key aspect of his recovery from CFS/ME. And another interview where he interviews another chap who survived cancer thanks to his yoga practice.
- Yoga Journal – A comprehensive yoga resource covering all the basics.
- Research into the health benefits of Yoga.