Thursday, 27 September 2012

Beat Fatigue With Yoga (and graphs)

 Book review! Of sorts. I recently read Beat Fatigue With Yoga by Fiona Agombar. The author actually has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so she knows from whence she speaks - no "this is a magic fix!" or "no pain, no gain!" bollocks here. I can categorically say that every single person with CFS has heard said bollocks hundreds of times in a myriad of different guises and can happily go the rest of their lives without hearing it again.

Aside from the poses and breathing exercises, it has good, solid advice: don't go from zero to three hours of yoga a day. Start with one pose a day - or every other day, or a week - and build up. Always do less than you think you can do: if you think you can manage half an hour, do fifteen minutes. Eat properly.

Ah, but that last is where what I call The Hippie Shit begins. I know, I know, buy a book on yoga and then get irritated when people start talking about chakras - it's like going to a swimming pool and complaining that everyone's so indecently dressed. But, good grief, there are limits. And my limit is when she starts advocating a vegetarian diet because one gets more 'prana' (mystical life force earth energy) from vegetables than from animals because meaty prana is 'second hand' - the animals got it from vegetables in the first place. By that logic, surely vegetables themselves go their prana second hand, and it would be more efficient to eat soil. (Mmm, mud pie: not just for kids!) And even soil was once something else - why don't we eat magma? Sure, it might be a bit on the warm side, but if you concentrate hard enough on your Positive Cooling Visualisations you can eat anything!

My prejudices aside, it does seem a good program - if I remember, I'll report back in a few months when I've managed more than one pose.


And now, a brief public service announcement.

Another fun fact about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: the "disproportionate exhaustion after moderate activity" symptom isn't restricted to physical activity. For me, it's the mental exertion of Heavy Thinking, and especially of Interacting With Other People, that take the real toll.

I think this is true of everyone, it's just that I have less energy to start with so the effect is more apparent. Hanging out with people I've known forever, and who I can converse with using handy shorthand (Straight Best Friend, for example, merely has to mutter the word 'grenade' for me to crack up laughing) is the least demanding. Work is easier than social situations because having Things To Do gives less time to spend worrying about whether I'm being entertaining enough, witty enough, without looking like I'm trying too hard. Work social events are the worst, because I have to worry about all of the above, with the added exertion of trying to be professional and remember not to say 'cunt' too frequently.

To summarise, a very scientific graph:

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