Regular exercise can ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia dramatically, reducing muscle pain and the number of tender points, knocking out depression and insomnia, even cutting through so-called “fibrofog” for increased mental clarity.

Yoga is a particularly effective form of exercise for those with fibromyalgia, for it provides stretches for stiffness, strength building, aerobic exercise, and tools for relaxation. In fact, the Mayo Clinic includes yoga as one of the best things people with fibromyalgia can do for themselves.

For a long time, fibromyalgia, like bipolar disorder, was considered a “garbage diagnosis,” and many doctors treated their patients almost as if they were making up their symptoms because the doctors could not find an objective cause for the discomfort.

It is now clear that many fibromyalgia symptoms stem from a very real and measurable cause: low levels of serotonin, one of several neurotransmitters responsible for mood and adaptation to stress.

Muscle soreness results directly from an imbalance in neurological and endocrine functions.

Though muscle soreness is the main symptom of the syndrome, it is certainly not the only one. Other symptoms include disturbed sleep patterns, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and feelings of numbness in the extremities.

A number of conditions tend to co-occur with fibromyalgia, including irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, mitral valve prolapse, and a great deal more.

Yoga can clearly help with the symptoms, and may someday prove to address the underlying causes of fibromyalgia as well.

To date, there is no published study on yoga’s ability to regulate serotonin levels. However, western medicine in recent years is proving over and again what the yogis have claimed all along — that yoga is a prescription for total health, not just in body, but also in mind and spirit.

Scientific studies in the last few years have shown yoga effective in regulating levels of GABA and melotonin, two other neurotransmitters linked to mood. In the endocrine system, a regular yoga practice is proven to help regulate insulin levels.

In particular interest to those with fibromyalgia, practicing yoga has also shown to regulate the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Those with fibromyalgia often have high cortisol levels in the evening, when cortisol levels should be at their lowest.

Fibromyalgia sufferers are often told to avoid causes of stress, and all too often this leads to shrinking away from life and avoiding the very activities that used to bring joy. A gentle evening yoga practice may be just the antidote, helping lower cortisol levels and increase neurotransmitters like GABA which can lift mood.

Author's Bio: 

David Morgan teaches Knoxville yoga classes. He is a certified Kripalu Yoga Teacher and a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) through the Yoga Alliance. He offers weekend workshops on yoga for fibromyalgia. Please visit his web site for information about future workshops and a forthcoming Yoga for Fibromyalgia CD.