7 Yoga Poses to Increase Energy

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Let’s be honest, if you’re suffering from an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or fibromyalgia, you understand a whole new kind of exhaustion in your life. The following yoga poses are gentle on the body, yet work with your body to increase energy and circulation.

These yoga poses can also reduce stress, rid your body of toxins, and help you focus.

Practice Yoga Breathing

Most of us don’t think about breathing on a day-to-day basis, we simply just do it. Yoga breathing, however, consists of deeper, cleansing breaths that can reduce stress, and give you focus.

While you may not be able to get up from your desk at the office and jump into your Downward Dog position, you can take a few quiet moments to do yoga breathing and calmly rejuvenate your body. To begin yoga breathing, sit up straight and inhale through your nose, until your lungs fill with air. Let the breath out slowly through your mouth. You can also add the “HA” sound to your exhale to force the air out.

Yoga Poses for Energy

The following yoga poses can be done first thing in the morning to relieve stiffness and increase energy. You can use them together as a quick yoga routine, or individually based on your time and needs.

Tree Pose

Standing with your feet rooted to the ground, slowly raise one foot and place  it on your calf or inner thigh. This does take practice, so start slow with your foot down lower if you need to. Place your hands into prayer position with your palms together and fingertips pointing up. Repeat standing on the other leg.

Arm Pumps

This yoga move stimulates energy flow from the spinal column to other parts of the body.

Interlace fingers and clasp hands with your knuckles face out, and palms facing in. Extend your arms forward, then inhale as you bring yours arms up overhead. Exhale as your lower your hands down to your knees.

Continue this motion with each strong breath, inhaling and lifting your arms then exhaling as you lower them down. You can start by doing this move for 1-2 minutes, and work up to 5 minutes.

Cat Pose/Cow Pose

The Cat Pose is often paired with Cow Pose creating a rejuvenating sequence. These poses increase flexibility to the spine, as well as stretch the back torso and neck, and softly stimulate the abdominal organs.

  1. Begin on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees placed directly under your hips. Place your knees hip-distance apart and center your head and neck in a neutral position.
  2. To begin the Cow Pose, inhale as you drop your stomach towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, as you gaze up toward the ceiling.
  3. As you exhale, draw your belly button up toward your spine and round your back toward the ceiling—simulating a cat stretching its back—to complete Cat Pose. Relax your neck and allow your head to lower toward the floor.
  4. Repeat this move for 1-2 minutes as you inhale into Cow Pose, and exhale into Cat Pose.

Downward Facing Dog

Perhaps one of the most recognized yoga poses, the Downward Facing Dog…

  1. Begin on your hands and knees. Place your wrists underneath your shoulders, and keep your knees directly under your hips.
  1. Tuck your toes under and exhale as your lift your hips, coming into an upside down “V” shape.
  2. Spread your fingers wide to create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. As you become more comfortable with this move, straighten your legs and lower your heels toward the floor.
  3. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs. Work on holding the Downward Facing Dog for five deep breaths.

Spinal Flex/Camel Ride

The move released blocked energy in the spine.

  1. Sit with legs crossed, and your hands holding onto your calves or shins.
  2. Inhale as you lift your chest forward and up.
  3. Inhale and exhale as you round spine, chin to chest. Start slowly and increase pace steadily. Continue for three minutes.

Lying Twists

Yoga twists can squeeze out the anxiety and frustrations of your day, similar to wringing out a sponge. Twists also stimulate and detoxify the organs of your torso.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms out to each side, keeping your shoulder blades on the floor.
  2. Exhale as you drop your knees to the left and gently turn your head to the right. Keep your shoulder blades pressing toward the floor. Allow the force of gravity to drop your knees even closer to the floor.
  3. Hold this pose for several breaths, then inhale as you slowly bring your knees back to your chest.
  4. Exhale as you release your legs to the right.

Warrior 1

This popular standing pose stretches the whole front of the body while strengthening the thighs, ankles, and back.

  1. Stand with your feet wide apart, and point your right foot toward the top of the mat. Turn your left foot out slightly.
  2. Draw your shoulder blades in toward your upper back ribs. Keeping your pelvis turned toward the front edge of your mat.
  3. Press your weight through your left heel, then exhale as you bend your right knee until it is over your right ankle. Keep your shin should be perpendicular to the floor.
  4. Inhale as you raise your arms up perpendicular to the ground, keep them shoulder width apart and parallel to each other. Gently tilt your head back and gaze up at your thumbs.
  5. Hold for up to one minute. To release the pose, press weight through your back heel, straighten your front leg, and lower your arms. Repeat on the other side.

Refresh, De-Stress, and Energize

These yoga poses will not only help increase energy, but also help relieve stress and muscle tension. It’s important to focus on your breathing throughout each pose to center yourself, increase the flow of oxygen to your body, and get that energy boost without the afternoon candy bar.

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Still Flaring…It Sounds So Much Brighter Than It Is

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Flare: a type of pyrotechnic that produces a brilliant light or intense heat without an explosion. It’s what I think of every time I say I’m having an arthritis flare. While my flare may be intense, it sure isn’t brilliant, frankly, it sucks!

I am still in a lot of pain today and the temperature is getting to -10 with the wind chill factor tonight. Good times. My hip and legs are really stiff, almost locked. When I get up from a chair or out of the car, or try and walk down stairs, it’s not easy.

I don’t even think my gluten-free eating could spare me this flare. It’s frigid cold. My hands have been like ice all day today, and right now I have two heating pads and an electric blanket on, as I sit here listening to the wind howl.

I don’t think the temperature will be any better in the next few days, and this may actually prevent me from going to my girls’ night out tomorrow. I’m friends with a group of girls that play Bunco once a month and that happens to be tomorrow night. If you don’t know what Bunco is, picture Yahtzee using three dice and some wine!

It’s usually a fun night out, but I will play it by ear. If I still feel like this, I can’t fake it tomorrow night. Isn’t that the worst? Faking you feel better than you do. Do we all do that? I feel like when I’m going into a group, I’m certainly a lot less likely to say how much pain I’m in.

As I sit here watching a town Board of Finance meeting (life can’t get more interesting than this),  this man got up for public comment and he referenced my letter. That man took the time to look at my property taxes and let me know that I should be thankful they went down. I have a few things to say to him:

#1. You took the time to researched where I live and what I pay in taxes. Clearly you need a hobby. Perhaps I could teach you to knit, or better yet, you can come with me to the animal shelter and volunteer your time playing with the cats and dogs.

#2. My children and their education are extremely important to me. I will willingly pay the proposed increased that amount to only $12 per month per household to ensure a high-quality education for all children in this town.

Clearly, I’m spending way too much time on this budget crap. I guess it’s something to focus on when I have to sit here in pain. Maybe I need a hobby!

Stupid Polar Vortex Is Killing Me

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Ok, before I get to how much pain I’m in and my autoimmune issues, for those that have been following my small town political saga, I met with the First Selectman today. I wasn’t impressed with him. While he did listen to me, he shrugged off everything I said and kept referring me to a graph he made on enrollment.

Needless to say, he’s not going to change his mind on the education budget and we’re still in deep crap for the coming year, but I feel good that I stepped up and actually got involved. There are so many people who sit around bitching about circumstances and don’t do anything about it. At least I can say I took some sort of action to make a change.

It’s possible that I was so driven because this is something I can make a difference with and possibly change in the future — unlike my autoimmune issues. My rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia are not going away no matter how much want them to. I have to accept that so I’m not keen on accepting it elsewhere in my life.

With the extremely low temperatures today, I woke up with my hand completely stuck again. I just stood there in the hot shower this morning, letting the heat soak in. It was back to that painful numbness that I had a difficult time describing in another blog. While it is numb, the pain and tingling is horrendous. The only good news was that I woke up migraine-free. Last night was terrible.

Then after going to that meeting I stood outside for a few minutes talking to a neighbor, and the cold got right to the bone. My right hip and leg are in serious pain tonight. I’m considering calling my rheumatologist for a trigger point injection, but of course I’m saying that while I’m sitting here practically in tears over it. Tomorrow may be another story.

I’m guessing it’s going to be a while until I fall asleep again tonight. I don’t like taking an Ambien when I have to teach a class in the morning. I always feel sluggish and yuck. So it’s likely another trash tv night for me.

Anyone watching anything good?

Welcome Back Arthritis Flare

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Today didn’t go as expected. I should know not to have big expectations. My schedule was thrown off because my daughter was sick with a cold this morning and needed to stay home from school. This put off my plans to meet with the First Selectman until tomorrow, which was okay with me.

The Polar Vortex is back and it was everything I could do to get warm today. My hands were either on the heating pad or grasping a warm cup of tea. They are still stark white from the Raynaud’s and they are so cold that they ache. I ended up needing to take pain medication this evening as I could hardly walk and I started getting a migraine.

I can’t even tell you if it worked or not. I suppose the pain is lessened but when I have a migraine that’s the only thing I can feel. The left side of my neck to the shoulder is one big, giant knot. I keep trying to stretch it, but it hasn’t done much good.

Basically, I’m telling you that I’m one big downer today in terms of pain. Otherwise, I actually had a nice day spending some one-on-one time with my daughter. I worry about all my kids for different reasons, but my oldest daughter lacks confidence, just like I did as a child. I wish she could see what I see what I look at her. She is beautiful inside and out. While there are times when she gives me an attitude, she is such a genuine person. I love watching her grow and I’m more proud of her every day. I worry that like her mother, she’ll let her fears get in the way of her dreams.

Today she told me she’d really like to sing next year in the school fourth-grade play. This is my daughter that refused to speak to anyone for half of kindergarten because she was too shy. She performed in the Nutcracker the past two years, and I see how much she’s grown and trying things out of her comfort zone. I’m in awe of her. She’s such a good kid.

When I’m feeling down on myself I really do look at my kids and think, well, I’m not perfect, but my kids are kind and funny and good people. I’m doing something right despite my mistakes.

So here I sit at 10:30 at night with a migraine. Sleep is going to be difficult and I’m trying to decide whether or not to take a half of an Ambien. It’s such a catch-22 (one of many with autoimmune diseases). I need to sleep to help the migraine, but I can’t sleep because of the migraine. It might be stress related because of all the town drama and me getting worked up about talking to this guy tomorrow.

I am trying to tell myself he’s just a person. He might see himself as more powerful, etc., but he’s just some guy and I don’t care if he doesn’t change his mind, I am going to at least have him listen to me. Our town is so divided and dramatic right now. People are aligning themselves on different sides, and I want no part of that. I’m going to talk to him about my concerns for the education system, and that’s it. I’m just praying I don’t have this migraine when I am trying to talk to him.

For the moment, I’m sitting here watching “I Have 5 Wives.” How do I find these gems on television? In tonight’s episode the wives are all jealous of the wife who has the same birthday as the husband. The husband has stress because he is trying to keep them all happy. Clearly, this is must see tv. I need my readers to start watching this crap so I have someone to discuss it with!

Back to my hands for a moment — if any of my readers also suffer from Raynaud’s, I’d love some ideas for what to do when my hands get this bad. I know it technically isn’t a big deal, but when they are this cold and white, they really hurt. Even running them under warm water is painful. I’m so focused on the fibro and rheumatoid arthritis that I never really ask about the Raynaud’s. It’s more of a bother than anything else. I’d love some insight if anyone has it.

This post is very random tonight. I just re-read it and I’m all over the place. Chalk it up to me being scattered and in pain tonight. Tomorrow is another day.

Today the Couch, Tomorrow Public Service

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As I mentioned last night, we are welcoming back the Polar Vortex here in the northeast, and with is came a lot of pain and stiffness. I’m finding that if I sit too long, I almost can’t get up when I want to. I’m hunched over and walking slow.

I spent most of the afternoon working from my couch with my heated blanket. I’m stressing out because my letter to our First Selectman has prompted him to want to meet with me in person tomorrow. For the most part, I’m level-headed. The only time I really get crazed is if I feel someone has hurt my kids…or sometimes with my in-laws.

I don’t plan on going in with an adversarial tone because I don’t think it will accomplish anything. To be honest, I don’t feel for one second that my meeting with this man will change his view on his proposed budget, but instead of complaining on Facebook about the situation, I’m actually stepping forward and meeting with the man.

My hope for tomorrow is that I’m not having a high pain day. I teach my Pilates class first thing in the morning, and usually I feel pretty good after that. If my pain can just hold off until the afternoon, that would be great.

It’s funny (not really) how I plan things these days. I used to make a lot of plans, but I just can’t with my autoimmune issues. Between the pain and stiffness from the rheumatoid arthritis and the exhaustion and overall body aches from fibromyalgia, those autoimmune diseases are in control over what I can and can’t do.

Coming to that realization was difficult. I’m not in control of things anymore. While I was never a control freak, it’s definitely still upsetting that I always need to give a disclaimer when I make plans. Me…the active person that can take on anything. I don’t know how I’m going to feel tomorrow or the next day, and that is hard for people to understand, and even more difficult for me to accept.

Hopefully I’ll come to terms with it at some point, but I doubt it…I’m stubborn. I’d love to hear how other people handle making plans and not knowing whether you’re going to have a bad flare, etc. It’s definitely something I struggle with.

Feel free to comment here or come join our Facebook Group and start the topic there. I look forward to getting know my readers on that page and becoming a support system of people who get it. We all could use that.

Tomorrow evening you’ll probably be reading that I threw up right before my meeting. I psych myself out way too much. Here’s to hoping there is no puke involved in my day tomorrow.

Another Day, Another Headache

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I won’t say today was a bad day. I got out of the house and brought my kids to see the Lego Movie. I had a small headache when I woke up that turned into a bigger headache after sitting in a movie theater with blaring sound and flashing lights. The kids enjoyed the movie, and while it wasn’t my favorite, it wasn’t bad for me either.

I know I mentioned a lot about our local political drama yesterday and my idea to not read any of the nasty comments. The Beth Landau (bethlandau.com) commented on my blog that I needed to develop a thick skin about it. She advised me to read the comments and stick to my beliefs. She was right (thank you, Beth).

I did go read the comments…everything from me being an “abortion lover” to “as bad as Obama.” I just wonder how people jump from a person caring about the education system in their town to abortion, but it’s not for me to guess. It’s not for me to worry about or give a second thought to. So I’m not!

I had a lot of people say very nice things on Facebook regarding my letter. I also received some emails and one neighbor stopped by my house to thank me for writing it. I have to be honest and tell you she made my day. All in all, I feel proud of my letter and I still like me most of the time 🙂

We’re preparing for more of the Polar Vortex here in the northeast, which means there is a fair chance that this won’t be a great week in terms of pain. Mornings an nights are tough, but not unbearable when the temperature normal. When it’s -2, I don’t function well.

Aside from my gluten-free diet (which I have cheated from now and then), I have been trying to drink a lot more water. I’m doing research for a blog post on dehydration, which will be up tomorrow, but in general I’m wondering whether some of my headaches are caused by not drinking enough. I think it also helps me with that exhausted feeling I carry through the day.

For the past few days, I have felt more awake and active…though the downside is I couldn’t make it through the movie today without using the bathroom. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going as it gets colder, and let you know if I see any improvement.

The last thing for the night is a reminder that our Autoimmune Mama Facebook Group is now open. Please join us and introduce yourself. I hope the group becomes a great place for us to give each other support and understanding.

Have a great night!

I Saw the Sun Today

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It was like I hadn’t seen the sun in years. Just walking outside and feeling the warmth of the sun made my afternoon. I wish I could have gone for a walk, but with two birthday parties and food shopping to do, that didn’t quite happen.

I felt pretty good for most of the day, but two straight hours of standing at the second birthday party did me in. I knew it wasn’t going to be good for me, but for some reason I feel stupid being the one that needs to sit down and can’t make it through. It’s something that I just personally need to get over.

At this point my back is thoroughly stiff and my hips and legs are very sore. It’s not like I don’t try and exercise on a regular basis. Standing should be that difficult, but for whatever reason, it starts in my back and then moves down my legs if I’ve been on my feet too long.

The flip side of it is that if I’m sitting too long, my legs also get stiff. It’s kind of another crappy catch 22. I need to get up and move, but standing in one spot just kills me…especially for a two hour clip. My kids had fun with their cousins, and that’s what really mattered.

My other big news of the day is that I’m being bashed in our local newspaper. As I mentioned in a previous post, we’re having a lot of political issues in our town and education budget was reduced a ridiculous amount. I wrote a letter to our First Selectman, but he’s a baffoon and neglected to answer me. So I copied the local newspaper and shocker…he responded with an hour or so.

The newspaper requested to print my piece, and it didn’t matter at the time, but now I have all the crazies commenting that I’m an abortion lover, etc. It amazes me how people make such assumptions because I said I think the reduction in the education budget was too small and that we were lied to by our First Selectman.

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What I learned today is…don’t read the comments! I put myself out there because I believe our kids deserve more. I have three kids with different special needs and I don’t want the special education staff to be reduced. The needs of my children are nothing compared to the non-verbal autistic kids in our community and guess what? They have every right to an education, too.

It pissed me off a little this morning, but it’s done and I won’t go back and read any more nastiness.

The exciting news of the day, in case you didn’t see the post was I started an Autoimmune Mama Group page on Facebook. Please take a moment and send a request to join. I would love for us to connect on Facebook and have a place to ask each other questions and garner support from people who understand our fight against our autoimmune diseases. It’s really something that alters your life, and I’d found that most people simply don’t get it.

So please join the group and post away!

Ok, Scratch That…New Facebook GROUP Started

Ok, scratch that everyone! It was suggested that I keep this page for the blog and start a Facebook Group instead, this way we can speak freely about what we are going through. I created the page, all you need to do is request to join the group. Sorry about the confusion, but I know many of us want to keep our issues private, and this might be the best way to do it. I hope you’ll join the group and post freely. It really does help to connect with people who get it. https://www.facebook.com/groups/221760864693359/

Facebook Change

Hi Everyone!

I changed our Facebook page to be an online community rather than just a page about the blog. Please feel free to post, vent, share, and connect on the page with others who are also dealing with autoimmune issues.

Check it out today!

Autoimmune Mama

Is It Old Age or Brain Fog?

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It’s a term used often in the autoimmune community, brain fog. But what is it? According to Dr. Lawrence Wilson: “Brain fog may be described as feelings of mental confusion or lack of mental clarity.  It is called brain fog because it can feel like a cloud that reduces your ability to think clearly.  It can cause a person to become forgetful, detached and often discouraged and depressed.  It usually is present most of the time, meaning it does not come and go, although it may become better or worse depending on what a person eats, or one’s state of rest and hydration.”

Ok, so let’s recap. Brain fog = forgetfulness and reduced ability to think clearly. I’d like to state for the record that I’m a mother of three. Some days I don’t know my ass from my elbow. I can’t keep track of who has what activity or appointment, let alone things I need to do for my clients.

I tried to think about it as a whole and figure out whether it’s just something that comes with age and being overwhelmed with my own To-Do List. I think I’d have to admit that my crazy schedule certainly plays a part in my personal brain fog. The difference for me is noticeable when I am in the middle of a rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia flare.

During a flare exhaustion is just as difficult a symptom as the pain. With the exhaustion definitely comes brain fog. I do lose the ability to think clearly and organize things when my body is hurting and I’m exhausted.

So, based on this, I’m going with I’m not THAT old, and despite my crazy life, I do also have the symptom of brain fog, especially during a flare. I suppose that my insomnia also factors into the mix. It’s hard to think straight when you haven’t had any sleep.

I think what bugs me is brain fog is one more thing that is subjective and can cause the rolling of eyes. Even at the beginning of this blog, I was going through the possibilities in my own life that could be causing brain fog–aside from my autoimmune issues.

  • Crazy, hectic schedule
  • Kids
  • Job stress
  • Lack of sleep

What parent doesn’t have most, if not all of those things? It’s easy to shrug off this symptom because it’s not tangible like a certain area of pain. I hate symptoms like that because they add to the stigma that goes along with some autoimmune diseases.

Heck, I’ve heard fibromyalgia is what they diagnose when nothing else is wrong with you and there is no real reason for what you’re feeling. I’ve heard chronic fatigue syndrome is for tired soccer moms that have run out of steam. I’m sure if you’re reading this blog and you have an autoimmune disease like CFS or fibro, you’ve heard things like this.

It all goes back to the beginning — it’s all in your head! Well, it’s not. And along with the pain and exhaustion, there IS such thing as brain fog. You heard it here, and I’m standing by it.

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