Yoga Therapy for Fatigue

Aug 31st, 2017
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Fatigue is generally not easy to define, since everybody has his/her own idea of what being tired means.
We are tired once in a while; the most common reason is a lack of sleep. This is particularly so for adults because of irregular sleeping routine.
Fatigue can also be caused by a wide range of illnesses and diseases. A person may find that he/she needs more rest and sleep. It may also affect performance at work.
Fatigue is also common when we are feeling down.

Understanding Fatigue

Fatigue can be described as the lack of energy and motivation (both physically and mentally). It is a subjective feeling of tiredness which is distinct from weakness. Unlike weakness, fatigue can be alleviated by periods of rest. Fatigue can have physical or mental causes.

Both weakness and fatigue are symptoms, not diseases. Medically, fatigue is a non-specific symptom, which means it has many possible causes. Because these symptoms can be caused by many other health problems, the importance of weakness and fatigue can only be determined when other symptoms are evaluated.

Prolonged fatigue is a self-reported, persistent fatigue lasting for at least a month. Chronic fatigue is a self-reporting fatigue lasting for at least six consecutive months. Chronic fatigue may be either persistent or relapsing. It is a symptom of many diseases and conditions.

Symptoms

Many illnesses can result in the complaint of fatigue and they can be physical, psychological, or a combination of the two

• Lethargic (lazy and sluggish)
• Listless (lack of enthusiasm)
• Lack of energy
• Tired
• Exhausted
• Worn out
• Malaise (feeling discomfort)

When fatigue becomes prolonged or chronic fatigue syndrome then one may experience

• Muscle pain
• Joint pain
• Un-refreshing sleep
• Headache
• Sore throat
• Impaired memory or concentration

Causes

While it is true that depression and other psychiatric issues may be the reason for fatigue, it is reasonable to make certain that there is not an underlying physical illness that is the root cause.

There are three main reasons, which cause fatigue is due to lifestyle factors, medical conditions or psychological problems.

For example, if you wake up in the morning rested but quickly develop fatigue with activity, you may have a condition such as an underactive thyroid. On the other hand, if you wake up with a low level of energy and have fatigue that lasts throughout the day, you may be depressed.

However understanding the pattern of fatigue may help your doctor determine its cause.

Lifestyle Factors

• Lack of sleep
• Use of caffeine
• Excessive physical activity
• Alcohol use or drug abuse
• Unhealthy eating habit

Medical Conditions

• Heart disease
• Obesity
• Diabetes
• Cancer
• Thyroid problem
• Kidney disorder

Psychological Conditions

• Depression
• Anxiety
• Stress
• Grief

Yoga Therapy

Mental and physical fatigue can be lessened by asana practice, which rests the brain and rejuvenates the body and the mind. The practice includes inverted postures like Sirsasana, Viparata Karani and Sarvangasana; forward bending posture such as Padahasthasana, Paschimottanasana, Janu Sisasana and Adho Mukha Svanasana. Backward bending postures like Ustrasana, Chakrasana and Bhujangasana are helpful in relieving mental fatigue, which is the cause of physical dullness and laziness. In addition, twisting posture keeps the spine supple. Pranayama opens the chest and lungs and bring freedom in the diaphragm. As the breath becomes easier, the body feels light and the mind feels fresh.

Yoga Nidra is a mindful relaxation technique, which can relax both the mental and physical exhaustion of the body

Padahastasana (Feet and Hands Posture)

1. Stand in Tadasana. Inhale, stretch the arms upwards.
2. Exhale, stretch the trunk and bend forward, placing the palms besides the feet or a little further back.
3. Catch the ankles from behind and bend the elbows outwards. Pull on the ankles to stretch the sides of the trunk down and to release the spine.
4. Bring the hips, abdomen, and chest closer to the legs and place the head close to the shins.
5. Extent the trunk downward, relaxing the head and the neck.
6. Stay for 20-30 seconds, breathing evenly.

Benefits: This pose relaxes the body as the body elongates passively

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

1. Start in Marjariasana (cat pose) by coming down on hands and knees.
2. Tuck the toes under, raising the head and trunk; bend the legs to raise the hips and straighten the arms.
3. Raise the hip higher and straighten the legs. Without losing the height of the hip, stretch the heels down.
4. Stay in the pose for about half to one minute or longer with even breaths.

Benefits: Removes fatigue, refresh the brain, and soothe the nerves. It promotes healthy sleep.

Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sage Matsyendra Twisting Pose)

1. Sit in Dandasana. Bend the left leg, turn the foot at right angle to the shin with the inner heel under the right buttock.
2. Curl the outer edge of the foot back so that the edge, not the top, of the foot is on the mat. Keep the inner and the outer edges parallel. Keep the left knee facing directly ahead. Bend the right knee up.
3. Take the right leg over the left with the knee facing the ceiling. Place the foot by the left outer thigh, facing diagonally away from it. Keep the right thigh, knee, shin and the foot in line. Do not let the leg drop to the side. Press the fingertips on the mat and draw the trunk up.
4. Move the back ribs in. Exhale and turn to the right. Bend the left elbow, with the forearm vertical in front of the right thigh and take the right arm back, pressing the palm on the floor. Press the bent arm against the right leg to bring the left side of the back forward and to move the left kidney in. pressing the right hand on the mat to turn the front of the body to the right. Raise the diaphragm and turn the abdomen.
5. Stay for 20-3- seconds breathing evenly, or continue to the final pose.

Benefits: It massages the internal organs and keeps the spine flexible.

Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand)

1. Place both forearms on the mat with elbows shoulder width apart. Interlock the fingers firmly.
2. Rest the crown of the head on the mat, so that the back of the head is touching the palms which become support around the head.
3. After keeping the head position, raise the knees from the floor by moving closer to the head.
4. Stay here with the leg straight – Ardha Sirsasana (Half Headstand) for beginners’ practice.
5. Once Ardha Sirsasana is mastered, try Sirsasana (headstand) next to the wall with the help of a teacher.
6. Inhale, raise both legs up with the inner legs pressed together, toes pointing upwards.
7. Keep the body in a straight line and with the knee locked, with elbows and shoulders in line.
8. Stay for 2 to 5 minutes and relax.

Benefits: It improves circulations and vitality; and keeps the mind calm and the brain passive.

Yoga Nidra (Mindful Relaxation)

1. Sit in Dandasana. Lean back onto the elbows. Check that the trunk and legs are in line.
2. Lie down, lowering vertebra by vertebrae. Place a pillow under the head and the neck. Settle the back on the floor. Extend the trunk, arms, and legs prior to relaxing them.
3. Close the eyes. Keep the breath normal. Make it quieter. Do not let the mind wander, but keep the attention on the body. Keep the eyes sill and relax the face. Allow the body to sink in to the ground.
4. Allow the attention to move through the toes to the head. Scan the entire body part by part. For example; feel the right leg toes, inhale a deep breath; exhale, relax the toes. Feel the ankles and the sole of the foot, inhale; exhale, relax them. Then feel the calf, knee, thigh and the left leg guided with the breaths.
5. Be aware of a smooth, slow, serene flow of the breaths. Let the mind make a gentle, conscious effort to guide the breath so that it is smooth, calm, deep, and without any noise or jerkiness as the body relaxes consciously.
6. Yoga Nidra is state of deep relaxation consciously. Be aware of the breaths and the particular part of the body, to remain consciously and not to go to sleep.
7. Stay quietly for 10 to 20 minutes or more.
8. Then slowly open the eyes. Bend the legs, turn to one side, and stay for a moment; turn to the other side. Then get up from the right side.

Benefits: It refreshes and rejuvenates the entire body and the mind; and improves the quality of the sleep.

Pranayama (Lying Down Breath)

1. Sit in Dandasana. Lean back onto the elbows. Check that the trunk and legs are in line.
2. Lie on top of a bolster lengthwise and place either a towel or a block behind the head. Close the eyes and lie in Savasana for 2-3 minutes.
3. Observe the rise and fall of the chest, as the chest expands and contracts with normal breaths.
4. Gradually make each breath smooth, soft and rhythmic and of similar volume.
5. Observe the breath gradually become slower and deeper and open the chest.
6. Stay with even breaths for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not go to sleep. After a few minutes, bend the legs, turn to the side and come up

Benefits: It improves the breathing capacity; and relives stress and depression and soothes the nervous system.

Halasana (Plow Pose)

1. From Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand), keeping the legs straight, exhale and take them over the head, resting the tips of the toes on the mat.
2. Raise the hip and take them over the head to curve the trunk slightly. Tuck the kneecaps in and lift the thigh, shins, and the ankles. Keep the feet vertical, the heels stretching away from the trunk.
3. Stay, breathing evenly for 3 to 5 minutes or longer.

Benefits: It stretches the nervous system and removes fatigue.

Conclusion

Get enough sleep each night and develop a proper sleeping routine. Eat healthy food like fruits and vegetables, early in the evening and avoid caffeine content food. Practise yoga regularly and learn the relaxation techniques. Do not push yourself beyond a limit. Work on achieving work life balance. When you are on your yoga mat, be serene in your mind and bring harmony in your heart.

The whole system of yoga is teaching to be self-centered. That is to say, to be yourself, and to keep your body, mind and the soul in a perfect balance and harmony.

Asana Journal

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