Bellydance with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Many in the dance community are unaware I have lived with fibromyalgia and myalgic encephalomyelitis (the more accurate term for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) for over 20 years. As the symptoms progressed, it was clear ballet, gymnastics, athletics and other high impact dance modalities simply were not possible without injury.

It is an ever-present challenge, waxing and waning. I have learnt to manage it, with a discipline of special diet, supplements, stress management, environmental control and, most importantly, energy rationing. I have had to taper down, and at times, put my dancing on hold, but I believe I would be much worse off without having continued to dance when possible. After periods of being mostly bedridden, the body seems to remember and return (like riding a bicycle).

There are many ways in which stretching and a gentle, low impact dance practice such as bellydance is helpful for living with these sorts of conditions. As well as aiding the body physically, it helps with grounding and tuning in and feeling out our own limits. Keeping all parts of the body supple and mobile as bellydance does helps is a huge help. Plus, let’s be honest, just to dress up and do something fun is such a release when life is pared down to survival level.

Even a very basic practice (when possible) of yin- style yoga, basic strength and balance exercises and gentle dance makes a huge difference physically and emotionally.

Update 2020: In 2015, I suffered a severe, life threatening relapse. I was again bedridden, and had a return of severe neurological issues with balance, sensation, fine motor skills etc. At this time, it was discovered I have had recurrent Epstein barr Virus (aka glandular fever or mono virus), Lyme disease (an infection caused by a parasite transimtted by tick bites) and biotoxin illness from living in mouldy houses (aka CIRS Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or mould illness). I spent a few years as a full time patient, and rehabilitating to get basic strength and co-ordination back. I am excited to report that I will be slowly returning to dance teaching soon.

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