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Yoga May Combat Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Date:10/14/2010

nd being willing to learn from pain and stressful circumstances, being mentally "present in the moment" and learning to distinguish between actual events and the mind's tendency to "catastrophize" pain -- that is, thinking it's the worst pain ever when really it's manageable, he said.

Previous research showed Yoga of Awareness improved pain, fatigue, sleep and mood in women with breast cancer, Carson said.

It's unknown what aspects of Yoga of Awareness are the most beneficial, but Carson said he believes the exercise, meditation and the social aspects all contribute.

"It's the combination that has a synergistic effect," Carson said. "Our mind and body are very connected, but we are often not aware of that fact. Techniques like yoga really reinforce that connection and make us much more conscious of the fact that our thoughts and our feelings are affecting our body, and our body is affecting how we think and feel."

If you have fibromyalgia and are looking for a yoga class, Carson recommended seeking out a class advertised as "gentle" and making sure the instructor knows you have physical challenges so that poses can be modified.

Since many yoga classes don't incorporate much meditation, Carson also recommends seeking out a meditation class, which teaches breathing exercises to reduce stress and cope with pain.

A study published in August in the New England Journal of Medicine found tai chi may also help give fibromyalgia sufferers some relief. Like yoga, tai chi is a mind-body exercise that emphasizes slow, gentle movements to build strength and flexibility, as well as deep breathing and relaxation, to move qi, or vital energy, throughout the body.

More information

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has more on yoga.

SOURCES: James Carson, Ph.D., clinical psychologist,
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