3 YOGA POSES FOR FATIGUE

I saw a meme recently that said "I feel like a sloth on ambien." Ha! How many of us can relate to this? I wonder if the person who made it is a Spoonie. I wonder if they know how accurately they've described what it is like to live every day with fatigue, feeling like you're dragging yourself through life.

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I think that fatigue is a symptom that most of us have on our list, regardless of our diagnosis. Fatigue has been my most stubborn chronic illness symptoms, and one of the most debilitating. I feel like there can be many flavors of fatigue, and they all interact with the body differently. The fatigue we experience when we over-exert ourselves is obvious. That flavor of fatigue is easy to distinguish, but there are so many others! Before I had chronic illness, I never imagined that it would be possible to get fatigued from lying in bed. Oh, but it is possible! And I feel like this kind of fatigue sits in the body differently. 

The poses I'll be sharing with you today can help relieve our fatigue, regardless of which flavor we may be experiencing in the moment. These poses can be practiced all together or individually, whatever you feel up to today.

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1. MALASANA - GARLAND POSE

For the traditional expression of Malasana, you'll come into a squat with the toes turned outward and the hands together at your heart. Using a block under the hips here can be helpful for people with tight hips and also for people with hypermobile hips. It also helps you to keep your balance and take some pressure off of the ankles.

You can also modify this pose with a chair, or if you're feeling particularly fatigued, you can do the pose lying down on your back with the knees hugged into your chest. Please watch the video below for visual instructions.

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2. MATSYENDRASANA - SEATED TWIST

Our next pose is a seated twist for just a few breaths on each side. This can be done in whatever comfortable seated position feels good to you. It can also be done in a chair with the feet flat on the floor. This pose releases tension and opens the chest, which allows us to take deep breaths. This can be a tremendous help when we feel fatigued. 

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3. BALASANA - CHILD'S POSE

Finally, we have child's pose. My favorite way to do this pose is with a bolster and with a cushion under my hips. Sometimes I fall asleep like this!

If you have sensitive knees, you can try this pose with your entire torso on top of the bolster, your head resting on a block, and your legs extended behind you. You will get the same benefits of the pose with less stress on the knees. You can hold this pose for as long as you'd like.

Please watch the video below for visual instructions for each pose. 

MENTIONED IN THIS POST:

HOW TO DO PLANK POSE

POSE: Plank Pose

SANSKRIT NAME: Kumbhakasana

BENEFITS: Strengthens the entire body.

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Plank pose can be a very physically demanding pose, one that we may be tempted to avoid if we have chronic pain or chronic illness symptoms. But there are ways we can modify it to make it more comfortable and less demanding, so that we can find the version of the pose that challenges us without completely exhausting ourselves. We don't want to miss out on the benefits of this pose! If you have sensitive wrists, these modifications will help you too.

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HOW TO: For the traditional expression of this pose, we'll start in table top pose. This way we can set up the arms first and then bring in the legs. The shoulders should be stacked directly over your wrists. Externally rotate the shoulders so that the inside creases of the elbows are facing the front of the mat. Keep a micro-bend in the elbows to prevent locking or hyperextension. Press firmly into all ten fingertips. Lengthen the tailbone and engage the core muscles. Finally, extend the legs back, coming onto the toes. Hold for as long as possible. 5-10 breaths is a great goal to start with. When you are finished, take rest in child's pose so your body can recuperate.

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MODIFICATION #1: Plank pose with fists

HOW TO: Instead of practicing plank pose with the hands flat, make fists and come onto the knuckles. Otherwise, your alignment will be the same. Practicing this way keeps the wrists straight and may help relieve wrist pain.

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MODIFICATION #2: Forearm plank

HOW TO: This variation may also help those with sensitive wrists, but it can be more demanding on the shoulders. Begin in tabletop pose, then come down onto the forearms with the shoulders aligned over the elbows. Elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle. Lengthen the tailbone, engage the core muscles. When you are ready, extend the legs behind you and come onto the toes. 

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MODIFICATION #3: Half plank pose

HOW TO: Again, you'll start in tabletop pose with the knees together. Walk the hands forward slightly, then drop the hips to engage the core muscles. The toes can be pointed or you can come onto the toes, whichever feels more comfortable.

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MODIFICATION #4: Wall plank

HOW TO: This variation places significantly less weight on the arms and hands. Face the wall and place the palms against the wall shoulder width apart and at shoulder height. Walk the feet back a bit and come onto the toes so that you're leaning into the wall. This will help you to build strength. 

Please remember that although we can all practice the same alignment cues, a pose may look different on one person than it does on another, and that's perfectly OK! Our bodies, our bone structures, our physiologies, are all unique, and this can influence the ways we express asana. If you look different than me, that doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. It's not about how it looks, but rather how it feels in your body. That is what matters.

Ready to give this pose a try? Join me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe to be featured on my page! 

Vrksasana: Tree Pose

POSE: Tree Pose

SANSKRIT NAME: Vrksasana

 

BENEFITS: Improves balance, strengthens feet/ankles, opens hips, improves focus/concentration, quiets the mind, helps with brain fog, grounding

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HOW TO:
From Tadasana, shift the weight onto one foot, and lift the other foot up off the mat, pressing the sole of the foot into the inside of the standing leg. Resist the temptation to use the hands to position the foot higher than it wants to go naturally. Doing so can send the hip out of alignment. Let the foot fall wherever it wants to be naturally. This can be above or below the knee, but make sure the heel of the foot doesn’t press into the knee joint. Hands can be at your heart in prayer position, or you can lift them up over head.

ALIGNMENT TIPS:

  • Actively press into all four corners of the standing foot
  • Engage the quad muscle of the standing leg, keeping a micro bend in the knee
  • Think hip over knee over ankle
  • Engage the glutes to open the hip of the bent leg
  • Engage the abdominal muscles and draw the front ribs in
  • Keep the shoulders plugged in their sockets

 

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CHAIR YOGA MODIFICATION: Seated Vrksasana in a chair

BENEFITS: For practitioners who may have difficulty balancing. Practicing in a chair will allow you to build strength and open the hips without the risk of falling.

ALIGNMENT TIPS: 

  • Sit away from the back of the chair to avoid slouching
  • The “standing” foot should be directly below the knee – leg is at a 90 degree angle
  • Press evenly into both sit bones
  • Press the opposite foot into the inside of the “standing leg” – hip externally rotates open
  • Engage the core muscles and draw the front ribs in – good posture
  • Hands can be in prayer at your heart or overhead

RESTORATIVE YOGA MODIFICATION: Reclining Vrksasana

BENEFITS: Opens the hips, restorative

ALIGNMENT TIPS: 

  • Relax all the muscles, let this be a passive pose
  • Arms can be stretched overhead or resting alongside the body with the palms face up (like in savasana)
  • If your hip feels over-stretched in this pose, try placing a pillow or rolled up blanket under the bent knee

 

Ready to incorporate tree pose into your practice? Share your photos with @spoonieyogatribe on Instagram!