Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Jeanne-in-Canada, Aug 24, 2005.

  1. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    I know exercise can almost be a dirty word for those w/ crippling CFS. I'd like to share this because it's very similar to what got me out of bed w/ my own past w/ crippling CFS. I never quite ended up in a wheelchair, but I'm sure I should have been for awhile.

    Many of you have had bad experiences w/ GET or similar, that pushed you too hard. You've been hounded mercilessly "that if you'd only lose weight, WAH WAH WAH..." I've had my own bad experiences w/ Naturopaths who in their arrogance thought a one size fits all approach to CFS/FM would fix me right up, 30 mins brisk walking or other cardio exercise, have to get the heart rate up, have to, no other way. And it falling on deaf ears when i tried to explain, there was no way I could do that, not if I wanted to function for weeks to come. And I am always slim, and usually appear to be fairly fit, so it can happen to anyone.

    When at my worst, I searched high and low fr the gentlest exercises to slowly condition myself again. I was so weak I couldn't stand up to brush teeth, would see stars even if already standing, see stars esp. when washing hair, passed out in shower once, was winded rolling over in bed. I even tried these pain exercises specially designed for invalids that could be done in bed, they even did me in.

    So that's where I was, just so you don't think my level of function now is what I've always had. I know what severe CFSers are feeling. I found my own teeny regiment, started at 1 rep, and flux between 3-6 reps now, depending on my upswing or downswing. These are similar to some of my range of exercise movement (not designed for cardio, just to limber, loosen painful fibro muscles, reduce morning stiffness, and to get lymph flowing for detox). Y-Dan has more movements than my set but very similar, and so helpful.

    So please keep and open mind, even if you are very debiliated. The article speaks for itself.

  2. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member


    A simple alternative to Tai-Chi

    By Christopher T. Wong, CFT

    Yin-Yang SymbolY-Dan is an ancient exercise dating back over 2000 years. Initially, it was practiced only by the Chinese imperial families and remained quite secret. Eventually, it was lost and remained so for centuries until 1978. It was at this time that it was rediscovered and practiced again in Taiwan. In a very short time, its popularity became so widespread to the point that due to a very limited number of qualified instructors, only people over the age of 40 were allowed to learn.

    Y-Dan is a full body exercise with its own warm-up and cool-down built into it. It exercises every part of the body and has a very balancing effect on the body and mind. The name of the exercise actually translates to "External Elixir" which means that it was designed to exercise the exterior of the body, which includes the muscles, joints, ligaments, etc. Because of this, it is also one of the safest exercises you can do. Another exercise very closely related is called "Nei Dan" which translates to "Internal Elixir" However, this exercise is much harder to learn and can potentially cause more harm if done improperly. The beauty of Y-Dan is that it’s arranged in such a way that it can be learned very quickly and efficiently. There are only 19 movements in the exercise, so each movement can be remembered more easily and practiced with more repetition. With some other types of exercise, you may do each movement only once. But in Y-Dan, each movement is done either 4 times or 10 times.

    The "Chi" is something you may have heard before. It’s basically tour body’s energy flow balancing the body, mind, and spirit. When the Chi flows well throughout the body and your meridians are open, you will experience vibrant health with energy and a general feeling of wellbeing. It’s also virtually impossible for disease to take root with everything flowing so well.

    Now you may have heard of athletes dying very young and think to yourself, "How could they have died so young when they were in such great shape?" The truth is that they may not have been in such great shape after all. Just because someone looks good, it does not mean that they have balanced health. A lot of athletes exercise to the point of overtraining which can cause a shock to the system. That combined with very severe dietary and drug practices makes their bodies walking time bombs. Unless you’re experienced, you can’t tell any of this from looking at them. But believe me, I’ve seen it myself. They fool everyone around them. Then one day an injury hits them, then they get a string of illnesses, get hurt a few more times in a futile effort trying to regain their former glory, and finally, it’s game over. Remember, I’ve seen this myself! What these people need is balance. They need to tone down their more intense exercises and include balancing exercises to bring harmony to their bodies. Clearly, they did not have good flow of Chi.

    Y-Dan is excellent for this purpose. It’s easy to learn, is very effective at promoting the Chi and makes you feel great. Not only that, but it also helps prevent and rehabilitate injuries. I’ve taught numerous people Y-Dan who suffered from various joint problems including Fibromyalgia and Sciatica among other things. At first, the students were not able to perform all the movements. But eventually, once they were able to do them all, their pain was almost gone! It may not have left 100%, but they were able to do many things that they hadn’t done in years.

    Another point I’d like to make is that I’m not saying you shouldn’t do other exercises. By all means, do them as long as they don’t involve impact. Although Y-Dan can work very well by itself and certainly has helped countless people using nothing else, it can also help balance out other exercises you do. I am also a bodybuilder of more than 11 years and take my weight training very seriously. However, when I started including Y-Dan in my daily routine, I can say with absolute certainty that it enhanced my exercise greatly. Getting up to go in the morning was easier, starting my workouts was easier even in cold weather, and I had more overall energy and balance. As much as I look forward to my bodybuilding workouts, I look forward to my Y-Dan.

    As with any exercise, exercising first thing in the morning is the most beneficial. This is primarily because of blood circulation. Between the hours of 1AM and 3 AM, the liver is placed under the most strain and retains the most blood, which is why people will often wake up during this time to use the bathroom, and also why people have cold hands and feet in the morning. By exercising first thing in the morning, you will make your body more efficient by forcing the blood out of the liver and to the rest of the body. Also, your focus is generally better in the morning, and unexpected things often have a way of creeping up on you as the day goes on. By exercising first, you don’t have to worry about that, because you’ve already done your exercise.

    I have been an instructor in Y-Dan for the past 7 years and a weight-training instructor for 9 years, working in conjunction with Prime Health Products. Due to the demand for the Y-Dan classes and to make it accessible to people who don’t live in the Toronto area, I produced an instructional videotape making it possible for anyone anywhere to learn this fabulous exercise.

    There are 19 movements in total with 7 introduction movements and 12 core or main movements. It begins gradually with very slow movements, eventually getting harder and more dynamic, until it finally slows down again at the very end.
    [This Message was Edited on 08/24/2005]
  3. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    Introduction Movements

    1. EMBRACING THE MOON: This is a general warm-up exercise to slowly open your energy meridians.
    2. TURNING THE HEAD: This is another warm-up exercise again opening the energy meridians and involving movement of the head.
    3. WALKING AGAINST THE WIND: This involves some deep breathing along with some leg movements to slowly bring the whole body into play.
    4. SWINGING THE ARMS: This is a faster movement involving somewhat more vigorous breathing and arm movements.
    5. BENDING: This is a forward stretching exercise.
    6. STRETCHING: This is a more dynamic stretching exercise combining forward stretching with overhead stretching in a fluid motion.
    7. ROTATION: This is a combination of rotation of the body and deep breathing to end the introduction movements.

    Core Movements

    1. PREPARATION: This is a warm-up for the core movements. However, the movements are faster than the warm-up in the introduction movements with more vigorous motions.
    2. BREATHING LIKE A TURTLE: This combines forward bending with very deep breathing and in particular has helped many of my students over the years with back pain.
    3. KNEELING AND SWINGING: This is probably the most dynamic movement of the entire exercise involving knee bending (squatting), arm exercise, and finger exercise all in 1 movement.
    4. FLAPPING YOUR WINGS: This involves quick movements of the arms moving away from your body resembling a bird flapping its wings.
    5. STRENGTHENING THE SHOULDERS: This does exactly what the name suggests. Through various rotations and upward extensions of the shoulders, they are strengthened and these movements are also very effective at rehabilitating shoulder injuries.
    6. THE EQUILIBRIUM BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH: This movement is a very effective balancing exercise. It involves quick movements with the arms outstretched.
    7. CROSSING YOUR ARMS: This exercise strengthens the fingers and forearms.
    8. PRESENTING THE PEARL: This is another excellent balancing exercise. It involves both short and deep breathing along with short and long arm movements.
    9. ROTATION AND FINGER STRENGTHENING: As the name suggests, this combines rotation with finger strengthening while at the same time, involving deep breathing.
    10. STRENGTHENING THE HEART AND SPIRIT: This is a very dynamic movement with finger strengthening and vigorous arm and leg movements.
    11. SWINGING THE FOOT: This is a balancing exercise in the sense that it’s done while standing on 1 leg. It exercises the calf muscles and involves quick shaking movements of the legs.
    12. WALKING LIKE A CRANE: This is the cool-down of the exercise and is a slow fluid motion to bring you right back to where you started.

    Do you have questions or feedback on Y-Dan? ( from: http://www.sensiblehealth.com/Y-Dan.php)
  4. pepper

    pepper New Member

    I am printing it out and will give it a go.

  5. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    Most of my movements are done in an armless chair, though when I'm a bit mre fit, I'll stand to do some, it makes them slightly more vigorous. I do deep rhythmic breathing at the same time, I think that has helped so much. Because it circulates lymph, and loosens the muscles that get so tight on us. It also helps so much w/ morning stiffness. I'm too grogged out to exercise in a hurry, but after about an hour, if I do my chair ones w/ the breathing, I ungrog so much faster, and as long as i do just the right amount of reps, I have much less pain. You know the balancing act though.

    The breathing gets oxygen deep into tissue and muscles while you are moving, better mental clarity too. Like wimpy yoga for FMers, heh.

    I've always wanted to do Tai Chi, it's so elegant and relaxing looking. But this is similar and less taxing, I tried a few Tai Chi moves after watching a special on seniors doing it, nope, to much. Pretty pathetic huh.

    But I had a friend w/ disabling CFS and she was able to handle the Y-Dan, or maybe the one up from it. She went to classes (not as chemically sensitive like us) and she said they were considerate about perfumes and understood people w/ disabilities had to go at their own pace. So she just laid it out if she couldn't do it. She had her mat already on the floor, so there she'd be. She also said that if she could barely do anything, it was still a morale boost to get the outing and be among normal people(of varied age and gender) that were very accepting.

    [This Message was Edited on 08/24/2005]
  6. tansy

    tansy New Member

    posting about y-dan.

    I have ended up on a bit of yoga, a bit of pilates, gentle PT etc; taking the best out of each. Tai chi was too difficult for me; this seems to aim for similar goals but more suitable for many of us. I am still exercise intolerant (including structured programmes) but have come up a few levels so was looking for something new, and here you are posting something along the lines I was looking for. :) Thanks

    I had a PT appt to conservatively treat my cervical spine issues (again!) this afternoon and it's just been cancelled at the last moment, can't say I'm disappointed though since I am having a few iffy days.

    love, Tansy [This Message was Edited on 08/25/2005]
  7. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    I hope more people give this a peek too. So many CFSers have given up hope of getting off the couch ever again, but it's possible. I did it, and now I lean to the fibro end and am much more active w/ less pain too. It's baby steps, but they start somewhere and eventually get you somewhere too. Try not to ever lose hope.

  8. Smiffy

    Smiffy Member

    Thank you Jeanne, this is really interesting. I have bought books of exercises for helping FMS that just made me despair; there's no way I can kneel on the floor etc. that these books suggest. Y Dan sounds much more suitable.
  9. cjshorty

    cjshorty New Member

    Everytime I have taken advice and tried any exercise it causes a flareup (usually from 1 hour to the next day even) that hits with ferocity. I have read that light exercise is good for Fibro, and have been told by Doc and others too, but I also read that people with Fibro in the extreme range of the illness, as there is mild modrate and extreme cases of fibro, actually cause exactly what I experienced, which made me feel less like a baby and less like quitter, because at first I thought I was just being a baby.

    Seriously I can go to the grocery store when I am actually moving somedays, and by the time I get home I can barely drag myself out of the car and in the house and all I did was walk the cart like a huge cane with wheels while hubby grabbed the items I pointed to, I even started using the electric cart and get mean looks by others, as Im slim and only 46 but look 30'ish.

    So when I think about exercising Im just scared, err I mean skurred!
  10. rockyjs

    rockyjs Member


    Thanks so much for posting. I'd never heard of Y-Dan...yoga and Tai Chi are more than I can handle right now but I really want to have an exercise program.

    I did a search for more information and later went on Amazon and ordered the DVD version from a company in Canada (it came to $30 after shipping). You can also get it in VHS.

    I'll let you all know how I do - I'm almost completely exercise intolerant right now (because of post-encephalitis effects). Very frustrating for a former personal trainer!

  11. rockyjs

    rockyjs Member

    I got my DVD yesterday and love it! Jeanne, I can't thank you enough for posting the information. I have looked everywhere for a program that I could tolerate and even "Sit and Be Fit" was too much. That's pretty sad!

    I went through the 19 exercises (he shows them individually, then does the whole routine straight through). It's a very flowing and energizing routine, focusing on breathing and stimulating the lymph system, but it was not too taxing.

    The only thing I had to modify was a neck movement because of a herniated disk, but hopefully that area will get strengthened and I'll get more range of motion. You could skip anything that is too painful and work around it (which is what we are trained to do as rehab therapists). As you build range of motion around the pain, eventually the painful area does tend to respond.

    He recommends that you learn 3-4 of the exercises the first week, then add two a week after that, so you should expect it to take about 8 weeks to learn the whole routine. The DVD was good quality and easy to jump to any individual exercise or go straight to the routine. Most of my exercise videos looked like they've been dubbed several times and it's hard to find a particular section. I highly recommend the DVD format.

    I bought mine at Amazon. If you type in Y-Dan in the search, it will come up as the first listing. It says videotape on the description, but you can request the DVD. Click on "available from these sellers" and you'll see the options.

  12. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member


    I hope this will encourage more people to look into it. I got my own chair regiment from a quitting smoking workbooklet, of all places. there was one of the movements I had to reject because it always brought on pain in my hip later. It's just a matter of listening to your body right.

    Did you get a DVD by the author of the posted article, Christopher T. Wong?

  13. Wasabi

    Wasabi New Member

    I feel like I keep repeating myself in different threads.... Sorry. But in case people reading this thread didn't come across my previous one about Qigong, let me just recommend it too.

    I've been doing it for a couple of months, and it is very, very gentle. It's a Chinese form of movement meditation. Similar to Tai-chi, it's supposed to increase circulation of "chi" or "qi" or energy in the body.

    It's mostly deep breathing and gentle movements that are done with your muscles completely relaxed. Some of the exercises are done standing; others are done sitting. There's even a set of meditation exercises done lying on one's back.

    I tried a "gentle yoga" class, which totally did me in for several days. Likewise with a swim class designed for individuals with arthritis or fibromyalgia--and many of the other participants were elderly and walking with canes.

    Qigong, however, has been wonderful for me. It calms my mind and energizes my body. I've dragged myself to class a couple of times on days when I was feeling really exhausted, and after class I felt so much better.

    Anyway, I'm going to check out Y-Dan too. It sounds good.
  14. rockyjs

    rockyjs Member


    The video/DVD is done by Christopher Wong. He's an excellent teacher and easy to follow. Here's the product description from Amazon:

    Product Description

    Low-intensity and not strenuous, slow-motion Y-dan exercise produces real health benefits, especially for those who have little or no experience with exercise and find even moderate aerobic exercise unrewarding, even boring! Y-dan is a perfect system for those who want to experience the benefits of gentle physical activity effectively, safely, and quickly.

    Often compared to T'ai-Chi, it can be performed any day and anywhere; it requires no special clothing or gear, therefore, it is suitable for older adults who don't identify themselves as 'exercisers'.

    Learning and practicing Y-dan can be beneficial to your cardiovascular health. As a matter of fact, it has amazing healing potential. All 19 movements are arranged in such a way that they have both a warming up and cooling down effect, especially beneficial to your cardiovascular system.

    Many people, especially "no-exercisers", have found Y-dan effective in lowering high blood triglyceride levels.
  15. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    I think that is the one the gal I knew w/ severe CFS was doing and going to classes for. I mention that somewhere above. I never could get the name straight for what she was doing. I'd make up a new name for it everytime I tried to remember it, heh.

    If you have a bit of energy after you check into Y-Dan could you let us know what you think? Which is gentler, what the differences are.

  16. tansy

    tansy New Member

    on the DVD, some are better than others, with our brains we need good teachers.

    I have multiple spine issues including my cervical spine, many of the exercises I have been given just make it worse. A short time ago I discovered a different way of doing one movement that helps keep the most weakened muscles in my neck functioning and at their maximum possible strength, so after 12 years there was so simple an alternitve I wondered why I had not thought of it myself.

    Many of us need something very genlte but still effective, this sounds ideal, but like you we may have to work around potential problems. It's the same with many treatment protocols.

    love, Tansy
  17. Wasabi

    Wasabi New Member

    Yes, I'd be happy to report back on how I felt about the differences between Qigong and Y-Dan. I'll probably look into getting a DVD for Y-Dan and will let all know what I think.

    As for Qigong, yes, I couldn't figure out how to pronounce it at first. Apparently, it's pronounced something like "Chi Kung."
  18. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    I found in a magazine. they were geared to improving bowel function. Fraid they didn't work and I lost track of them. She was very exercise intolerant, and had a terrible problem w/ vertigo and it was the only thing she could ever do. So I'd suggest for those that are esp. "ascurred, affeared" and whatnot, they may want to seek out Qi-Gong as perhaps an easier option.

    the Qi-Gong exercises I remember really focused on breathing. It was a bit too structured for me, I like to find my own rhythm, so I just couldn't adapt to the movements and feel natural w/ them. I'll have to get the Y-Dan after we move, my activity level is fairly high compared to many. Still disabled, but enough to get into lots of trouble w/ flares from overdoing. I seem to have more energy than my muscles can cope w/, but part of that is a yr of upheaval and too much allergy exposure from 3 moves and renos and I'm deconditioned from falling out of my routine all the time. Being in better shape from regular gentle exercise makes a big difference in my flares.

    Someone mentioned being wiped out from a bit of shopping, I'm the same way if I don't keep myself at least minimally fit. I know if we don't use it, we lose it. There is a way for everyone, you just have to find the right one for you.

  19. Wasabi

    Wasabi New Member

    I can certainly understand what you mean, Jeanne, about wanting to find your own groove. That's one of the things I've had to get used to with Qigong. There's a set number and sequence of exercises, as you may know.

    However, now, I kind of see it as being similar to a well-memorized prayer or favorite song. There's a beauty in ritual, if done with meaning.

    I think the atmosphere of my class makes it very different from doing moves shown in a magazine--not that there's anything wrong with doing that. What I like about the class is that at first, you just try to keep up and follow along with the movement. Then, after you're familiar with the exercises, and your muscles begin to relax as you do them, and you're able to go "deeper" into the meditation--just letting your body move and your mind go quiet.

    In my class, the entire sequence is done very quietly to soft background music. Even the instructor speaks very quietly. We're encouraged to let our thoughts go away and focus on our breathing and movements. All combined, it's like being in a quiet trance--if that makes sense. At the end of class, I feel so at peace with myself and the world. I think it has actually impacted me in the rest of my life, as far as being calm and relaxed.

    Anyway, if anyone wants to try Qigong, I'd recommend a good DVD (can't give any specific recommendations) or a class, if possible. I just think it's be difficult to get the full effect otherwise.
  20. brit_17759

    brit_17759 New Member

    for this article, I am now going to print it off and it it a try.