Fibromyalgia is a complex and painful condition that affects between five and six million North Americans. In honour of Fibromyalgia Awareness Day 2014 (May 12), IAYB is featuring an interview with Rodmell Press author, Shoosh Lettick Crotzer, who has dedicated her career to offering yoga for people who suffer from fibromyalgia.
In this audio interview, Crotzer explains the symptoms and effects of fibromyalgia. While the cause of the condition is still unknown, it is diagnosed through a list of commonly occurring symptoms: achey joints and muscles, fatigue and overall body pain. Recent research indicates that fibromyalgia is a central nervous system disorder, as the brain is affected in how it receives pain signals. One of the many things that makes fibromyalgia so complex is that it affects each person differently, making it difficult to label and diagnose. The expression of symptoms vary, with some people bed-ridden by the condition and others fully functional.
As Crotzer details in this interview, and in her book Yoga for Fibromyalgia, a gentle and individualized yoga practice can provide enormous benefit for people. A simple yoga practice can reduce pain, increase sleep quality, reduce fatigue levels and encourage relaxation. Crotzer makes it clear that yoga doesn’t cure fibromyalgia and instead provides tools for improving quality of life. A well-rounded practice includes basic asana, guided breathing, visualization and stress reduction exercises.
Like any adaptive yoga practice, a teacher of yoga for fibromyalgia works on bringing the poses to the people – not intimidating people by showing advanced versions of poses or giving them reason to strive. Crotzer recommends that people with fibromyalgia look around until they find the right teacher who understands the condition, and to not be afraid to educate their teachers.
There is still a stigma and silence around fibromyalgia. Crotzer and efforts like Fibromyalgia Awareness Day are paving the way towards increased understanding and empathy for the millions of people who experience the condition on a daily basis. This interview is one small step towards pulling fibromyalgia out of the shadows and making it more visible.
Learn more about Shoosh Lettick Crotzer on her website.