Thursday, August 2, 2012

Yin Inspired Yoga – Deep Stretching for Connective Tissue

I have heard about how great Yoga is for people with fibromyalgia.  Good muscle stretching sounds like a great idea.  I had done some Yoga before I had fibro, taken a few classes from my best friend who is a wonderful Christian Yoga instructor, and I did the P90X program for a summer that included a tough Yoga workout, but I was far from being a yogi.

A couple months after I found out I had fibro, I was ready to do something to try and feel better.  So I went to a Yoga class (a class geared towards more advanced students and instructors!  OOOPS!).  I hadn’t exercised AT ALL since I quit running four months earlier.  There was my first mistake.  My second mistake was thinking I could still push myself like I could before fibromyalgia.  I did the whole 1 hour class.  Sure it was hard, but I didn’t feel too much pain, so I kept going.  My muscles were tight and I started to feel a little off, fuzzy head, but I brushed away the thoughts and went to lunch.  About an hour later I was driving home and started to sob.  I don’t know where the emotion came from but it felt awful and all consuming.  I just cried and cried.  Made it home and fell onto the couch in horrible pain.  I was upset because of what I had done to myself and I grieved for the person I was before.  I knew then that my life really was going to be very different.  I had to rest for the next few days as my muscles recovered, from what felt like a marathon I wasn't prepared to run, and thought I would never do Yoga again.   But I did try again, I took it very slow and modified every move to what I could do.  This is when having a Yoga instructor for a best friend comes in handy.  She recommends Gentle Yoga, Beginning or Aerial Yoga or Restorative Yoga is good for aching bodies.

Ok, let’s get to it.  Yin inspired Yoga.  I ran across this online somewhere and asked my BFF about it.  She was excited to tell me that a variation of this type of Yoga would be great for people with fibromyalgia!  Why?  Well, here is the definition according to Three Trees Yoga:

“Yin is a simple, quiet practice that explores the connective tissue and joints of the body. The major differences between a yin and a traditional yoga practice are that yin postures are passive and done with the muscles relaxed. The poses are held on the floor, for a length of time. This is because connective tissue does not stretch like muscle and does not respond well to brief stresses. The focus of Yin Yoga, then, is to keep the joints and connective tissues of the body mobile. The regular practice of Yin yoga frees areas of chronic tightness primarily in the hips, legs, and lower back.”

Well that sounded fantastic!  Especially because fibromyalgia pain is thought to be largely in the connective tissue.  Yin is a specific set of 25 poses or “asanas” that must be done in order.  You hold each pose 3-5 minutes (10 minutes for some!) so it is a long intense practice and should be done just once a week.  I was no where near ready for that, so my wonderful friend came over one day and taught me 9 poses.  We started with just 2 minutes each and I’ve been adding time to each pose ever since.  Here is what she taught me, click on each asana for more instructions and information from
Remember, they must be done IN ORDER.

1.       Melting Heart – 3-5 min
2.       Butterfly – 3-5 min
3.       Camel – 1-2min
4.       Cat Pulling It’s Tail – 3-5 min each side
5.       Caterpillar – 3-5 min
6.       Dangling – 2min
7.       Deer – 3-5 min each side
8.       Dragons – 3-5 min each side
9.       Straddle – 3-10 min

I do have difficulty with some of these.  I have tender points on my outer thighs and sitting on them for even a short amount of time is painful.   Not only that, I am also am very inflexible (scoliosis and short hamstrings) so I will never be able to fully do the poses.  I just relax and do what I can.  My friend showed me how to use blankets and bolsters for support.  Some of the poses work your back, so if you find it getting stiff like I did, my friend suggested adding
Child’s Pose in between as needed.

Always check with your Dr. before beginning any exercise routine.  It is very beneficial to have someone show you how to do each pose correctly.  Check out classes in your area!

***Thanks to Christy Parker for all of her wisdom, support and patience!  Christy is not only a Certified Yoga Instructor and Certified Christian Yoga Instructor, but an Instructor in Krav Maga AND has a wonderful blog about natural skin care, home improvement DIY's and more!  Check her out at


  1. Wow this is wonderful information!

  2. Hi there! Just started my book on yoga for fibromyalgia. Hoping it will give me some relief! You have very interesting ideas and I enjoy reading your blog. Just started a blog as well. Hoping that connecting with other people with fibro will help me emotionally to cope with this very debilitating disease.

    1. Thanks for reading Elizabeth, I would love to read your blog as well! I do hope that Yoga provides you some relief!

  3. I just found you. I have had Fibromyalgia and CMS for 7 years and am working so hard at getting well. I have tried all kinds of Yoga and have never been that impressed with it helping me. This sequence was amazing. I am following you now and can't wait to explore your blog further.