Guest blog by Rachel Hawes
M.E (or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). is one of those labels that is used when all the tests for what could be wrong with you come back negative. Fibromyalgia is another label, more commonly used in the States. Whatever the label this is a long-term chronic condition that affects approximately quarter of a million people in the UK (statistics from Action for M.E. http://www.actionforme.org.uk/)
There have been many factors to my healing journey from ME, but the most important and life changing one for me has been yoga. I am now a yoga and massage therapist working with people from all walks of life, including those with M.E and Fibromyalgia.
How Can Yoga Help?
Exercise is the last thing on your mind when you have M.E. There is a very thin line between gentle exercise and doing way too much. Yoga is different from other forms of “exercise”. It is a system that can be adapted to suit the individual need or ability and can be changed regularly (even daily) depending on how you feel.
Yoga works on a very subtle level on both the physical body and the mind, helping us to begin to relax and renew on a very profound level. Physically it works on bones and muscles but also on the nervous system and the organs.
Us human beings do have a tendency to spend much of our time focussing on the physical body. We overload our senses even when we don’t want to. Coloured lights, music, smells, sounds, advertising billboards are everywhere we go, whether we like it or not. Yoga encourages a harmony and balance between body and breath, breath and mind.
Yoga relaxation and thereby helps the insomnia that so many people with M.E. relate to. It encourages energy conservation and exercise tolerance, it allows us to be present and thereby more accepting of where we are right now and it helps us to find balance – both physically and emotionally.
I work with yoga clients on a one-to-one basis and design short but sweet sequences for them to practice at home in between sessions. Some of my clients have noticed an improvement in their symptoms from after as little as four weeks but for some it takes longer – up to several months. This seems to depend on the severity and length of the condition. However, all notice an improvement in pain levels, anxiety levels and general wellbeing.
While I encourage clients to do a little yoga every day, I also encourage them to be kind to themselves and not to worry about missing the odd day here and there. I work on a variety of practices so they can use an appropriate one according to their energy levels on a particular day and I try to help them create a supportive, safe space in which to begin their healing.
If you would like to see if yoga could help your chronic condition it’s important to find a yoga teacher who is sympathetic to your needs. A good source of Yoga for ME teachers can be found at http://fionaagombar.co.uk/. If you are in the Cambridge area, I’d love to hear from you!
Rachel is a yoga and massage therapist based in Cambridge UK. Her healing journey from ME began in 1992 when she was 18. To find out more visit http://massage-movement.co.uk or follow her on twitter @fusionmassageuk