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Amber M. TMS and yoga

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    I have recently completed reading 3 of John Sarno's books and have concluded I am a TMS sufferer. My lifetime has been a cycle of TMS related issues from TMJ, headaches, migraines, anxiety attacks, tendinitis in knees, arms, shoulder pain ect. I believe TMS is the diagnosis and have had many moments pain free since the realization. The doctor recommends stopping all "therapy" regarding these ailments. I have resumed almost all physical activity. My question is : is yoga considered a therapy or is this an activity I should resume for general health reasons. I sometimes feel like stretching will reduce my pain or soreness some days but do not want to counter act my psychological thinking process.
  2. Amber Murphy LCSW

    Amber Murphy LCSW TMS Therapist

    This is a question that I hear often. As you may have noticed, there are many different approaches to this issue. Sarno believes that all therapies must be stopped in order to help the brain stop thinking structurally. I take a much more liberal approach to this subject.

    I don't think it is necessary to stop doing yoga. It sounds like you enjoy it and it is an excellent practice of mind/body self-care. However, I do think you should reframe why you are doing yoga. You mention that yoga can sometimes bring you relief from the pain. However, we know your pain is caused in your brain and not actually in your body. We do not want yoga to become a conduit of preoccupation in which you are hoping that each stretch, each pose might bring you relief. Physical work will not cure your symptoms.

    I would recommend that you approach yoga knowing that it is an excellent form of self-care, in which you can focus on your breath and calming your mind and your body. Allow yourself to notice how strong and resilient your body actually is. Use yoga as a way to teach your brain that you are safe in your body.

    Be kind and gentle to yourself in your recovery. It sounds like you are heading down the right path!

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

    Durga, westb, MWsunin12 and 2 others like this.
  3. interstellar

    interstellar Peer Supporter

    Quick question in response to this...
    I was one of those people whose TMS took over their body. I either stood all day or laid down all day. I wouldnt bend, twist, lift, reach, etc. Because of this I lost all flexibility and a lot of my muscle groups weakened. I know that you certainly shouldnt exercise or stretch in hopes of getting pain relief from it. But I do work out, run and stretch so I can gain flexibility and strength back. What are your thoughts on this?
    dusty67 likes this.
  4. dusty67

    dusty67 Peer Supporter

    Interstellar I am in the same boat. I am stretching and swimming hoping to rebuild the muscle I lost and get my flexibility back. I too have wondered if this goes against Dr Sarno's teachings about TMS. I also was thinking to start yoga as I heard its so good for flexibility, balance and anxiety too. Interested to hear others thoughts :)
  5. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I wish I had rubber joints because I can't do most of the strenuous yoga exercises.
    I prefer doing some of them sitting in a chair or lying in bed.
    I love the Youtube videos for that.

    I get a lot out of yoga meditation.

    I consider hugging a form of yoga. Being hugged and giving hugs. I got some yesterday
    on an Easter visit, and it felt so good. People transfer their affection through a hug
    when a kiss may not be acceptable. I like both, but am very satisfied with a hug.
    From male family and friends as well as female.
    Sometimes a hug from a male family or friend includes a kiss on the cheek. I love it!
  6. Amber Murphy LCSW

    Amber Murphy LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hi Interstellar,

    Not only do I not see a problem with this but I think it is an important part of recovery! Each time you bend, twist, run, reach etc. you are teaching your brain that you do not have an injury, you do not have to be afraid of these movements and that you will not allow symptoms or the fear of symptoms to dictate your activities. Job well done! Keep at it!
    Barb M. and Forest like this.
  7. interstellar

    interstellar Peer Supporter

    Thanks! I appreciate the response. I think it is very important to regain the strength and flexibility you've lost if your someone who stopped all physical activity for a long period of time. It just has to be done without any intention of healing tms pain.
    Ellen likes this.
  8. Steve Ozanich

    Steve Ozanich TMS Consultant

    Dr. Sarno doesn't have a problem with people doing yoga. He is a zen lover. The idea is to never do anything physical for pain reduction. Amber Murphy did a great job of explaining it with her phrase "conduit of preoccupation."

    Never shy away from doing anything physical that you want to. But when you meditate, meditate into the symptom, never away.
    Durga and Ollin like this.
  9. Joey2276

    Joey2276 Peer Supporter

    I'm 4 months into hatha yoga and am crazy about it; look for a good instructor; I had a few so so ones before finding an amazing one who really is filled with joy and love and you cant help but absorb that into your being. I've found it is a great adjunct to TMS therapy because in one pose I'll get mentally freaked out over my knees, then 5 min later my back, then ankles, etc, finally the brain is like screw it you do what you want. The meditative aspect is incredible. Now it isnt even a problem; I just find it to be extremely soothing for body and mind. Expect pain if you do it; for me I know what TMS pain is like and what non TMS pain is like so it helps if you already have that in mind as you go into it.
    Durga and Ollin like this.
  10. Ollin

    Ollin Peer Supporter

    I'm a long-time yoga practitioner, I did yoga before I got TMS, then when I didn't know the cause of my pain I stopped doing it, but then gladly got back into it, with more frequency and dedication. Initially I hoped that it may act as a direct healing modality for my pain, as I noticed pain subsiding after each session for a while, but in the long run it didn't make a difference on my pain level. However, this is not to say that it was useless for me as a TMS sufferer. Very importantly, it reaffirmed my belief that my pain isn't structural in any way, that it's safe to do physical things I enjoy, also taught me to listen to my body and be aware of what my mind is doing during the practice and in other life situations. Also, I can now distinguish between the physical (exercise) pain and TMS pain, which makes the practice safer.

    Physiotherapists will often recommend various stretches for specific to body parts involved in pain process, and many people think of yoga just as stretching. Hatha yoga is not only that: in addition to flexibility, it improves balance, coordination, builds strength, releases pain-killing endorphins, and has numerous psychological benefits such as calming the mind, becoming aware of our emotions and habits, even leads to meditative state of effortless flow and ease. If you get to the stage of doing your own home practice, it also teaches you positive self-care habits, creativity, confidence in your own judgments and even more self-knowledge and satisfaction. Yoga works as an all-round holistic mind-body practice. One of the most important things TMS sufferer can do is engage in something that one really enjoys - we need healthy life pleasures to cancel out some of the unpleasant symptoms of TMS.

    I believe all mind-body problems, once acknowledged as such, can be tackled from both ends. You can affect your body through the mind. But you can also connect to your mind through your body. We want to see changes in our minds AND in our bodies. Sarno recommends to forget the body and work on the mind only, perhaps to emphasize the importance of the mind in patients who until now only thought physical. Others, like Peter E. Levine (Waking the Tiger), recommends working on trauma via the somatic route. That's how all other animals heal, so why should we be that much different? Some meditation techniques teach to silence the body and its sensations, which can be tempting if one has physical pain, but it doesn't work in the long run because pain is a message our mind is communicating something through. Perhaps re-integrating mind and body into one indivisible whole is an important aspect of healing.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2015
    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) and Ellen like this.
  11. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for the yoga information, Ollin.
    I'll look more into Hatha Yoga on Youtube.
  12. jlm

    jlm Peer Supporter

    I am 6 months into a restorative yoga class and loving it. Is it easy? No. Is it worthwhile to regain the flexibility in my body? Yes! I have Gary Kraftsow's viniyoga therapy DVDs for home use. Grokker online has an excellent series on somatic yoga by an Irish Somatic instructor. I can look it up if you wish. She compares somatic work to a cat's stretching so I have added those to my practice. Will I ever be able to do a flow class? I doubt it, but I can do more than I could do a few month's ago. I have neurothapy and both my instructor and I were pleased I could do Warrior 1 for an extended time without wobbling Tuesday. My Dr Sarno book is loaned out, but my memory says he said to resume 'normal' exercise. I'm sure Dr Schubinger says the same.

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