This is a guest post by Donna Owens, a long-standing M.E. warrior, qualified yoga practitioner and author of “Yoga, My Bed & M.E.” on how you can gently improve your physical condition when you’re chronically ill.
How Can You Start Doing Yoga in Bed
When You Have M.E./CFS?
1. Listen to your body
We all get excited when we find something new to embark on, especially if it is towards helping us feel better. We tend to dive right in on the first go, only to be rewarded with payback and M.E. flare for days or weeks and we end up giving up.
Start with small steps and slowly climb the yoga ladder over weeks or months. Start with just one or two poses at first, maybe one pose as you wake up in the morning to open the body and ease stiffness and a pose before you sleep to help your mind and body relax to help you drift off to a peaceful state. Take your time and hold the pose(s) or repeat the pose(s) to suit your body and M.E. each day – and we all feel different day to day – so don’t feel as though you have failed if some days you can do more than other days.
2. Use props
We all have pillows, cushions, blankets, even heated blankets – my winter favourite yoga mat! – which we can use to help with our yoga practice. Props help the muscles relax into the poses, feel safe and be supported while the mind as well as the body can surrender into gravity and the yoga pose(s) for healing. Rolled up blankets can be placed under the feet, to help alleviate the legs and help blood circulation. Cushions or folded pillows can be used under the knees to help support the knee joints. Lying on a rolled-up blanket lengthways down our spines can help open the chest and help with breathing issues.
3. Don’t put pressure on yourself, but try not be too idle either to yoga
If you’re having a bad day with the mental side of M.E., try taking regular five minute breathing work to help calm your mind and to bring oxygen to the brain. If you’re having a bed day, take regular yoga breaks. This could be a full body stretch a few times over an hour to help prevent stiffness or it could be a reclined twist to help circulation and help ease lower back pain every few hours. What you need to remember is that you don’t have to do a yoga “workout” – a pose here and there during the day for a few minutes is more beneficial to the body and for the M.E. symptoms.
4: Don’t think of yoga as an exercise, a chore, or even an instant miracle worker
These few choice words which we tell ourselves are words that create expectations and negative mind set from the outset. When you think of yoga as a workout, we more than often talk ourselves from doing it, then it becomes a chore and no fun and we stop. On the other hand, going full into yoga and giving up after a week because it didn’t work isn’t a good place either.
Begin by thinking of it as your time, quiet and peaceful, warm and cozy, time between you and your body, healing and renewing, breathing and calming. Changing the way you look and say things can have such a positive impact on your life, mind and body and helps us to establish and keep a routine and a healthy habit, hopefully for life.
Donna Owens is a long-standing M.E warrior (over 20 years), who started practising basic yoga poses in bed while she was bedbound by the illness as a teenager to help ease the symptoms of M.E. Her life path is to help share and support other Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / M.E. warriors.
She is a qualified yoga practitioner and the owner of Yoga, My Bed & M.E. – a social media selection of yoga in bed videos, advice and support for other M.E. warriors around the world. She is the Author of the book “Yoga, My Bed & M.E.”, a bedside guide of yoga to help ease M.E. symptoms. You can connect with Donna Via her Instragram or her website: www.donnayogagirl.com.