Yoga for Chronic Pain by Kayla Kurin Book Review

“Yoga and meditation led me to a new way of thinking about my body and about what the worlds ‘illness’ and ‘health’ mean. It gave me the tools I needed to manage my pain and fatigue, and live a full life, even when I wasn’t feeling my best. Eventually, it led to my full recovery.” – Kayla Kuran, Yoga for Chronic Pain: 7 Steps to Aid Recovery from Fibromyalgia with Yoga.
If you’ve been following my work for any amount of time you’ll know I’m obsessed with yoga and meditation.
Yoga is a multi use tool for strength and pain management. Meditation is my favourite tool for deep rest and pain relief and has decreased my funky fight or flight response.
Yoga for Chronic Pain Book Review image
Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
As soon as I heard about Kayla Kuran’s book Yoga for Chronic Pain: 7 Steps to Aid Recovery from Fibromyalgia with Yoga, I was like “Me! Me! Pick me!” And Kayla kindly sent me a copy.
The book begins with Kayla’s journey and how yoga helped her on her journey to wellness.

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Step one invites you to learn about your pain.
Here we learn the difference between acute and chronic pain and how chronic pain affects the autonomic nervous system.
There’s a good action point here – start a journal and track your symptoms and what the context was to catch the patterns.
Step two delves into the science of yoga.
Here we learn about the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda and how it helped Kayla on her journey. Ayurveda provides a more individualized answer for us and is holistic in nature.
Step three is all about taming the mind through mindfulness.
Here I found the answer as to why meditating instead of attempting to nap (and getting frustrated about being unable to) – because I’m focusing on what I can control (practicing meditation) and not on what I can’t (sleep). The frustration is secondary and controllable. The sleep is primary and not in my control.
Kayla provides five ways to use meditation. And encourages us to set a mindful goal for your pain management plan. Something we can control (like meditating instead of napping, doing some breathing practice before bed).
Step four using breath as am energy source and takes you through some options for practice. Here she talks about Yoga Nidra guided meditation which I adore for coping with sleep deprivation.
Step five yoga postures to relieve pain – this is the jam!
“Yoga and meditation help rewire the brain. In yoga we call this namaskar, and in the scientific world, it’s called neuroplacticity.” 
There are two practices offered – a morning flow and an evening restorative and both are just lovely. There is also guidance for making a flare up plan that involves yoga.
Step six self care – this includes yogic self care such as massage, meditation and following your passions. There’s also some good tips for getting sleep and for reorienting how you think about sleep.
Step seven invites us to take mindfulness into daily life.
If you enact the actions Kayla provides, you will certainly be on a positive step on your way to fighting Fibromyalgia.
You can get your copy of Yoga for Chronic Pain here.

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You can find my book, which is everything I know and do to fight Fibromyalgia, including yoga and meditation here:

Melissa vs Fibromyalgia book cover

Move Every Day and Some Neck and Back Pain Yoga Links

Given that I have a lot going on between two tiny children, a shift-working husband, starting part-time work again soon, living with a chronic illness and writing about said illness – I don’t have a lot of time. Long walks, one hour Pilates and yoga routines and gym sessions are well in my past, like the distant past. Prior to Noah I had worked up to 20 minutes of Pilates and 30 minutes of walking at a time. Prior to Wyatt I had worked up to 30 minutes of both at a time. Since Wyatt I have had little energy and even less time. But movement is so important that I must prioritise it if I hope to be well.
So I try to move every day.
I have written about the adaptability of yoga – and that I love that about it – I can use yoga whatever my physical state. Sometimes it’s one pose. Other times it’s a full sun salutation series. There’s also chair yoga, half sun salutations and far more than I’ve ever delved into.
As I go into this very busy 2018, I am making a commitment to myself to move every day.

Here’s an example of how I wove yoga into my day yesterday:

  • Half sun salutations before getting dressed
  • Forward bend while waiting for baby to drink his bottle before his nap
  • Yoga Nidra meditation while baby was napping
  • Knees into the chest pose just before bed to relieve my lower back
Yoga may not be your cup of tea, and that’s OK  I’d encourage you to set a goal of movement and stick to it. In order to do that you must like your chosen movement. There are a ton of them. Walking, tai chi, Pilates, swimming, aqua jogging, weight lifting…the list is long.
yoga for fibromyalgia with links

My free PDF report about Yoga for Fibromyalgia (benefits, research, how I use it plus more links) is available in my free resources page. Sign up here to access it.

I did some research into some good poses for neck and back release and strengthening because this is really an area of issue for me, here’s what I found:

10 Yoga Poses for Neck Pain and Spondylosis – That Changed my Life – the author includes sun saluations! And knee to chest post!

Here are some oldies but goodies that I’ve shared before:

10 Chair Yoga Poses for Home Practice – chair forward bend is delicious!

Bonus if you’re travelling soon!

How to do Yoga on a Plane -even just seated cat and cow pose will be nice!

Bonus if you want to build some strength while you’re at it:

 

I hope there are some things here to get you started. I’ll post updates on my Twitter @thefibromama of how my move every day challenge goes. Feel free to post yours! #moveeveryday

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My Favourite Five Pain Management Mechanisms – Pregnant or Not!

There are a lot of things touted as helpful for dealing with pain. It can take a lot of trial and error to find what helps us. So I thought I’d provide my top five natural pain relief mechanisms that I utilise daily as a potential starting point for you. These are pregnancy and nursing safe too.

 

 

1. Heat pack

Heat is my favourite pain management mechanism ever. I use my heat pack multiple times a day and take it to bed when I first hop in.

2. Warm bath

Bonus add epsom salts
Following on from the heat pack, a hot bath is my favourite time out and relaxation technique. When my lower body is very sore, this is the only way to release the cramps – for these times I have it rather hot. When I was in my third trimester with my second baby I’d end up in a hot bath that just covered my thighs just about every afternoon.

3. Yoga

Cat and cow pose
Yoga is a multi use pain management tool. I use it for strength, flexibility, pain relief and relaxation. When my back is sore and tight I’ll do cat and cow pose slowly, with my breath for a minute for so. This was super useful when I was dealing with the symphysis pubis disorder (when your pelvis widens too far in pregnancy and can stay that way for some time after delivery).

4. Meditation

This has been an emotionally bolstering find. Especially when I have slept particularly badly and am exhausted. I no longer bother trying to nap and then get frustrated because I can’t. It is relaxing for body and mind. It can bring pain and fatigue levels down. I wrote a giant post about this here and have a chapter in my book and a module in my Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia eCourse.

5. Magnesium oil (pregnant) essential oils (not, or after first trimester)

Every night since my second pregnancy I have applied magnesium oil before bed. I never had an excruciating calf cramp during that pregnancy. I’m only at the beginning of my natural topical pain relief journey. Lavender and chamomile is a lovely combination for massaging onto sore muscles. It also makes a lovely bath oil. This is a whole other topic that I’ll research, experiment with and write up on the blog.
Please note that it is not recommended to ingest oils during pregnancy or to use essential oils during the first trimester – for the same reasons we try to minimise medicine use in pregnancy, there isn’t enough data to consider it safe.

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Top Posts of 2017: What You Were Looking For

I haven’t done this before, but it’s excessively interesting! Here are the seven most popular posts from 2017.

What Works-

The most popular post of 2017 was What Works: A Round Up. I shared my seven top tips for living well with Fibromyalgia and seven fibro bloggers shared some tips of what works for them.

They talk symptom relief, diet, rest and daily rituals to manage Fibromyalgia.


Pregnancy and Fibro

The second most popular post was the one where I announced my book Fibro Mama Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia. It was such a dream come true to write and publish a book and to share this hard earned knowledge.

 


Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)The third was where I shared my research and experience with low dose naltrexone (LDN). It has been such a ride since starting LDN last April. I could never have published my Fibro Mama book or written my Melissa vs Fibromyalgia book (out January 29th). LDN isn’t a stand alone treatment, but it has helped me so much.

 

 


fibro friendly links

I’m a big fan of yoga. I use it in all its forms to manage the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. In this post I shared My Pain/Fatigue Friendly Yoga Links from bed yoga for spoonies, to yoga for neck pain and full sun salutations.

You can also sign up for access to my free resources page where there is a PDF report Yoga for Fibromyalgia.

 

 

 


A Tricky Parenting SecretI shared A Tricky Parenting Secret after I’d been despairing about how to help my kids have a nice time despite pain and fatigue. It really doesn’t take as much as you’d think.

 

 

 

 


A Confession on Pacing and Boundaries was also popular, it’s a really tricky balance when you have children. It sometimes feels like the biggest battle isn’t to define your boundaries, but to protect them.


I wrote my Pregnancy Diaries when I was pregnant in 2016, last year I edited and posted fibro mama weeks 31-33them. Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries: Weeks 31-33 was rather popular. Looking back, this was the calm before the storm.


So these were my seven most popular posts of 2017. I’d love to hear the topics you have enjoyed the most and would like me to write more about in 2018.

If you like my posts then please feel free to sign up to my newsletter. You’ll also receive my free Microcourse – Arm Yourself with Knowledge (about pregnancy, nursing and parenting with Fibromyalgia)

 

My Pain/Fatigue Friendly Yoga Links

I’m a member of three Fibromyalgia support groups, two of which focus on actively fibro friendly linksbeing well. I love this!

Something I find myself sharing all the time are my favourite yoga exercises for pain and fatigue.

I thought I’d share the list here:

Bed yoga for spoonies

Chair yoga – I do this when I’m particularly stiff first thing in the morning, seated cat and cow and forward bend are delicious first thing.

Morning yoga

Gentle yoga for chronic fatigue

Yoga Nidra meditation for healing – this is one of my regular practices (I do Yoga Nidra daily)

Sleep Santosha YouTube channel has so many great videos for spoonies

Yoga for neck and shoulder tension – also have a look at Sarah-Beth’s other videos for some body specific yoga and beginner routines.

Half, or sanding, sun salutations – sun salutations are my base routine when I’m doing a 10-30 minute yoga routine and this is a great half version for times when you can’t get through the whole thing.

You’re turn, what’s you’re go to for spoonie friendly yoga?

Giant Meditation Post

I have been exploring the benefits of meditation for those with chronic illnesses recently. I am curious because Yoga Nidra, a guided meditation, makes a real difference to my day. After a 20 minute session my pain levels can drop to as low as 4/10 and decrease my fatigue levels to a similar place. The effects help me get through the busy evening period with my toddler.
Blue one way traffic sign

It’s not easy to carve out 20 uninterrupted minutes between work and the toddler. But when I see a gap, I snatch it up.

Want more about natural options for fighting fibromyalgia?

Natural Pain Relief: Supplements for Fibromyalgia Pain 

Essential Oils for Fibromyalgia

Yoga for Fibromyalgia 

A theory about Fibromyalgia, is that the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) may be stuck in overdrive. Meditation promotes a calming of this system, allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to activate.

The benefits of meditation are probably due to 20 minutes of:

  • Lying down
  • Using my heatpack on my neck
  • A break from noise
  • Time alone
  • Complete focus on my body, accepting it as it is
  • Not struggling to nap, which I can’t, so using the time calmly and effectively
  • The body’s response to complete relaxation, allowing the sympathetic nervous system to slow down

It is a tool for well being that I keep close, it is something that transcends simple pain/fatigue relief and gives me time to focus on myself as a whole – my san culpa (mantra/goal of practice) is, “I am well; physically, spiritually and emotionally.”

Elaine R. Ferguson, in her book on holistic healing agrees: “Practicing this [mindfulness] meditation affects your mind, brain, body and behavior in ways that promote whole-person health.” P83 Super Healing: Engaging our Mind, Body and Spirit to Create Optimal Health and Well-Being.

And it’s vital that we don’t neglect our spiritual and emotional components of self in the quest for relief from physical issues. I feel there’s a close tie between my emotions and my pain/fatigue levels – fear or sadness have an effect on my sympathetic nervous system, which affects the body physically. So I am researching both body and mind effects on Fibromyalgia.

This article is available as a PDF download in my FREE resources page.

Meditation and Me

It took me a while to appreciate meditation, years, in fact, for me to consider giving up precious reading time for it.

Suddenly, in 2014, I read a book about mindfulness meditation, found a YouTube video of a Yoga Nidra session that I particularly liked (avoiding the spiritual/religious aspects of it) and then I was away running.

I have meditations, body scans and Yoga Nidra of varying lengths that I switch between as I like. I also use the body scan technique most nights to relax into sleep. The focus on the breath is like second nature to fall into.

Funnily enough, when I am more fatigued, I need the short and sweet practices – to avoid falling asleep and feeling groggy and gross when I wake. When I have slightly more energy (and time), I opt for longer ones. My usual best length is 20 minutes.

20 minutes seems to be a good number for me, I respond well to 20 minutes of yoga or Pilates, 20 minutes of walking and 20 minutes of meditation.

Meditation provides true rest for body and mind and I think that is what I so desperately need in my day.


 

I am so into meditation that I have created a lot of resources about it:

Melissa vs Fibromyalgia book cover

There’s a chapter about it in my book.

 

 

 

 

 

you v fibro e course

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Necks & Backs, Some Coping Mechanisms

Anyone who follows my blog or Facebook page knows that I struggle the most with my neck. I may not have it under control, but I have a multitude of coping mechanisms for it. I thought I’d share some.

1. Swiss ball – if you have one, sit on it and gently lean backwards over it so that your back is laying on it and let your head relax. Good right?! You can also lean forwards onto it. These stretch out your upper back and shoulders which have a big impact on your neck.

Swiss ball

My swiss ball & foam roller.

2. Foam roller – this is a nifty tool that I haven’t yet come close to fully utilising. One good use for it is to put it under your neck and just chill out for a couple of minutes. Your head is heavy enough so you don’t  need to apply pressure or move about. You can turn your head gently from side to side (like saying no) and hold for a time on each side. Google foam rollers for neck and back and you’ll find a few tutorials on the uses for a foam roller.

3. Stretching – I stretch a lot, it’s a natural coping mechanism for me. The ear to shoulder stretch and the chin to throat stretch are nice neck stretches. But full body stretching is great for general fibro management.

4. Yoga – you can really utilise all different parts of yoga practice for Fibro bodies – just see this post I wrote about it. But for my neck I like cat and cow pose, forward bend pose, downward dog pose and child’s pose. If my whole back is being an issue then half legs on a chair (or couch) pose is a goodie.

5. Heat – I have my heatpack every morning, whenever I can in the day and before bed. It’s a favourite. A hot bath or shower is also good.

6. Rubs and massage – I have an antiflamme cream with natural ingredients to massage into the affected area/s which can be useful. The cream and the quiet time massaging the area are soothing.

7. Rest – sometimes the neck and back pain means I need to rest and cut back. This is part of pacing and general management of fibro.

8. Medicine – this is relatively new for me, I have a difficult relationship with medicine, but I am trying to remind myself that if judiciously used, medicine can reduce my misery. I have several lines of defense from paracetamol, to ibuprofen, to a paracetamol/low-dose codeine combination, to muscle relaxants. I very rarely allow myself the muscle relaxants but it does help when my back and neck have gone to custard.

A mix of these combined with general living well mechanisms (exercise, healthy eating, reducing stress etc.) Are the best ways I know to try to cope with my neck and back. Do you have any others?

The Current State of Things

With the end of the year at hand, I have been reflecting on where I am at and all of my experiments. I have learnt a lot through ever increasing threads of information.
IMG_20151224_103231

Me and my little elfie!


Sleep Experiments
I have taken 50mg of amitriptyline to help with sleep and pain for nearly ten years.

Earlier this year I got fed up with the fact that I take this medicine everyday and yet I still struggle to sleep well – loosing up to an hour a night to restless/awake times is not “good” sleep. So I have tried SleepDrops, chamomile tea and playing with the time/dose of amitriptyline (anything but a higher dose). Finally, after a lot of research, I tried melatonin and reported back on that here.

Research has confirmed my suspicions that the amitriptyline is not helping as much as I hope and any effects must have worn off. So I have slowly begun to reduce my dose. Currently, I’m on 20mg.

I found Curamin and report back on this here. With its help, I have managed to get blocks of sleep, longer than an hour or two! Before I ran out waiting for the new bottle to come, I was consistently sleeping for five or six hour blocks. This made a huge difference to my day and my energy levels were slowly picking up.

Sleep is a huge battle and has a huge impact on my day – but I’ll be happy when I’m not reliant on chemical manipulation to sleep.

Pain Musings

My neck has been hovering at 5-6/10 most days. It will reduce slightly after meditation and physio (acupuncture).

It did creep up to 6-7/10 for a good few months in a prolonged flare, but the Curamin helped bring it back.

My shoulders and back tend to be consistently tight and move from moderate to minor pain depending on sleep and the day.

My knees have been giving me a lot of trouble, the physio thinks it’s due to one of the quad muscles being lazy. The rheumatologist wasn’t bothered at all that I suddenly have joint problems (my index finger joints have become achy) after years of stable symptoms. The Curamin seems to have helped this. As does the yoga.

Fatigue

My fatigue levels have hovered at about 5-7/10, depending on a lot of factors, this year. First thing in the morning I feel really foggy. I crash late morning and mid-afternoon. And become too sleepy to hold my eyes open by 9pm.

But I am managing working 20 hours over four days far better. It’s difficult to come home with the toddler and not get a rest or time to meditate, and this has caused corresponding increases in fatigue and neck pain.

Well Being Practices

My staple supplements are Curamin and high dose magnesium.

I try to meditate (body scan or Yoga Nidra of varying lengths) most days, I feel like it really helps. As I said above, it can reduce my pain and fatigue levels, and, when done around mid afternoon, helps me cope with the evening routine better.

I see a physiotherapist who performs acupuncture about every three weeks. This is vital for my neck, the little needles in key points for 15 minutes allows them to release. They also do a neck traction which helps it to feel less compacted.

I try to be mindful of what I consume. I have a smoothie most days and adore salads with a  variety of veggies, nuts and seeds. I aim for more than five serves a day (which I don’t always hit, but its a good goal!)

My exercise levels have taken a hit with my knees playing up. I walk 20 minutes when I can and do yoga as often as my energy/knees/time allows.

Experiments

  • Acetyl L Carnitine – meant to increase energy and repair nerves. I did this for two months and upon stopping couldn’t ascertain a change. There was too much going on.
  • Melatonin – after 16 days of awful sleep I aborted the mission.
  • D Ribose and CoQ10 also weren’t for me.
  • Probiotics were really useful when I was beset by gastrointestinal symptoms and infections.
  • Iron supplements and B12 injections monthly, I have a month to go on a three month experiment, but the iron levels have already crept higher than I’ve ever seen them!
I’m so grateful that I’m in a far better place than I was a few years ago or when I was pregnant. My passion for finding better options for me and for sharing them with others is not diminished, so I’m looking forward to continuing in 2016.
I want to wish you all a happy New Year. Thank you so much for reading my little blog and sharing my journey with me. X

Yoga for Fibromyalgia: A Giant Introduction with Links

Type “yoga for Fibromyalgia” into Google and you will find a wealth of information trails to follow.yoga-20647_640

Countless blogs and articles cover the benefits of yoga, meditation and mindfulness for people with Fibromyalgia.

The crossover of yoga into the Western world has resulted in a more mainstream practice and scientific research backing up what practitioners have known for years.

There’s even research that has found encouraging correlations between regular yoga practice and decreases in pain, fatigue and sleep problems.

The yoga for those with Fibromyalgia is relatively relaxing and breath-focused. Restorative yoga is highly recommended.

A sequence I created with a yoga instructor has given me the basis for regular practice, with modifications for days where I haven’t the energy or pain levels to cope with a full sequence and for days when I feel I can push a little further.

I have some gentle, restorative poses that I enact naturally. Especially legs on a chair and child’s pose.

After more than a decade of learning to live well with Fibromyalgia, perhaps the most valuable learning I possess is the ability to tune in to my body. I am constantly analysing what works, what doesn’t, what’s causing what pain, what helps which body parts.

I bring this into my yoga journey, which has had ebbs and flows over the amount of time I’ve dealt with the pain.

This article is a free downloadable PDF in my Resources page. Sign up here to find it.

The value of yoga for a body with pain and fatigue can be found in:

  • The awareness of what you are doing with your body in each pose, consciously engaging the correct muscles, taking the correct stretch or benefit on offer.
  • The basis of the breath. Breathing is key to yoga and to accessing the parasympathetic nervous system. Even the stretches encourage full use of the breath, offering relaxation benefits to stretches.
  • The invitation to be outside of usual mind chatter. It’s so easy to be lost in the movement, the breath and the experience of the pose.
  • The gentle strengthening. A favoured pose, Downward Facing Dog utilises all the key muscle groups.
  • The ease of fitting practice in. Some days it can be 20 minutes on the mat, engaged in a flowing sequence. Others it can be a few key stretches in snippets of minutes. On yet others it can be one restorative pose for 10 minutes. Corpse pose can be used when sleep is being elusive, with or without a body scan relaxation.

The practice of yoga includes many options and I definitely make use of the tools it offers.

Some yoga tools:

I have been trying to fit Yoga Nidra in more often. I have been struggling with sleep for various reasons and my son has been getting up early and I believe the 20 minute sessions I manage to fit in really help. The other day my fatigue levels were around 5/10 for the rest of the afternoon! Here’s the YouTube video I’ve been using.

My ideal yoga practice would look like this:
Sun salutations first thing, gentle yogic stretches at work, yoga nidra after work and legs on the chair pose in the evening. Or any one of these in a day. I never do all of them.

Perhaps one of the best parts of yoga for Fibromyalgia, is that you can fine tune it to your experience, your day, your mood. If the fatigue is bad and post exertion malaise has been plaguing you, you can choose a few poses and take breaks. If a particular body part has been upset, you can gently stretch all the muscles around it to free it up. If you’re desperate for a break from your mind and it’s constant noise, you can do Yoga Nidra and let the voice take over for a time.

Has anyone else found benefit from yoga practice or parts of it?


I’m so into yoga for Fibromyalgia that I have created a lot of resources about it:

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It’s a free report in my Resources page.

It’s a chapter in my book Melissa vs Fibromyalgia

It’s an entire module in You vs Fibromyalgia eCourse.

Tensions, Accepting Life as it is

The tension of chronic illness, aside from any symptoms, is the desire to fight it and the need to accept it.

I’ve been reading Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by Emily P. Freeman.

It has been a breath of fresh air.

Freeman speaks of fighting the city builder within and nurturing the bench sitter instead. The bench sitter is the one who sits in the moment. Who sits with others in their moments, a witness, not a fixer. Who allows themselves to process their own moments.

Frequently I’ve had to combat my runaway desire for achievement, to reorient myself to what success means for me.

More recently my challenge is to accept things as they are. Accept my body as and where it is. Accept the day as it is. Not to stress over it.

The yoga instructor who helped me to create a sequence reminded me of it, accept your body where it is. (Not where it used to be).

I’ve been trying to take stock of my actions and reactions. Just notice.

And to increase my time to relax and release.

No Tiny Mission here, just an attitude adjustment and a commitment to take all practicable steps to reduce stress in my life. And to try to be more accepting.