The 3 Best and Worst Styles of Yoga for CFS/M.E

There is a lot of chatter in the world of chronic illness about trying Yoga. It can help manage symptoms and provide self care strategies for those who have nowhere else to turn.  But there are so many different types of Yoga out there, that when a sick gal decides she wants to give it a go- she can get lost in a sea of Yoga.  Where should you go? A gym? A studio? A workshop? And what styles of yoga should you be looking out for? I’ve tried out many a class in my day, so I am here to provide you with the 3 best, and 3 worst types of yoga for CFS/M.E:

The Best

1. Restorative Yoga. It really is as nice as it sounds. Restorative Yoga involves a lot of props for ultimate relaxation, and most classes take place sitting or lying on the floor. In some classes you will be holding poses for 20 minutes at a time with the sole focus to be finding rest. Taking this class after one (or several) bad night’s sleep is like is like a fresh scoop of ice cream on a boiling summer day.

2. Restorative Flow Yoga. This type of class is a slow moving flow, and allows a lot of time for modifications and restorative poses. This class is not recommended for those who are bed bound as it does require higher levels of movement than Restorative Yoga. For those who do have some level of fitness, a class like this can teach you how to move your body mindfully without setting off a regression.

3. Yin Yoga. If you love deep stretching this is the class for you. Yin yoga says to hell with sun salutations and cardio movements! It focuses on getting a deeper tissue stretch for increased flexibility and muscle movement. Each pose is held for 3-5 minutes, and you can choose to take a rest at any time.

Runner Up: Chair Yoga. While it is doubtful you will see this at a studio, a quick search on Amazon will give you a few nice options for DVD’s. This is a great option for those who are bed bound and would like to add a small amount of movement to their day.

The Worst

1. Bikram Yoga. Despite the scandalous orgies and Yoga competitions, Bikram remains a popular type of Yoga in big cities. While your experience will depend on your instructor, Bikram can sometimes feel more like a gymnastics class in a heated room than a Yoga class. It is more athletic than other types of Yoga, and the only school of Yoga that promotes competition.

2. Power Yoga. This is the counter style to restorative flow yoga. It is aimed at athletes, and those looking to get a cardio workout from their yoga class. Not recommended for anyone that does not already have a moderate level of fitness.

3. Ashtanga Yoga. Ashtanga is composed of the primary and secondary sequence which ranges from harder strength buillding poses to slower restorative poses. While classes can be beneficial for those only living with mild levels of illness, some Ashtanga teachers are known for being militaristic in their classes. Make sure you check out the teacher before signing up for a class.


Have you tried any of these types of Yoga? Do you have anything to add to the list?



14 thoughts on “The 3 Best and Worst Styles of Yoga for CFS/M.E

  1. I have done Hatha Yoga, although I’ve had to adapt a lot of the poses. But I have a spinal fusion and degenerative disease in my cervical spine, so obviously head stands are out! I love it. I get a terrific stretch, which feels sooo good, it calms my mind and reduces muscle tension, plus I get some strengthening benefits.

    • It’s great that you find adaptions that work for you! Hatha can be similar to restorative flow or gentle flow which is just a lovely pace for a class. I love the strengthening benefits as well! When you’ve had to limit your movement for an extended period of time there is nothing like feeling your muscles grow 😉

  2. I like restorative yoga. The heated room yoga (bikram?) is awful for me and makes me extremely symptomatic. I have not tried yin yoga, but sounds like something I might like! Thanks for sharing!

  3. It is very sad to read when someone describes Ashtanga Yoga style as worst because of some not great teachers.. .And they can be found in any style. It has deeper meaning than just poses when this article considers asanas point of view only. I agree with Bikram which does not have genuine roots. I believe that lineage is very important in yoga as it makes the practice authentic and not belonging to anyone. Ashtanga has it’s roots in ancient scripts and those who think it is about perfecting postures and repeating sequences only are very limited minds. Ashtanga can be practiced by anyone. Asanas can be modified to suit all. Practicing Sun Salutation only in Ashtanga style is also a practice of Ashtanga if all limbs are included. Otherwise it would be just an exercise…

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