As the yoga master BKS Iyengar tells us, “Yoga cures what need not be endured, and helps us endure what cannot be cured.” Yoga is an ideal complement to your self-care plan for your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing if you are dealing with Parkinson’s. In fact, a recent study concluded, “Yoga practice improves motor function, which may be partially explained by improvements in balance, strength, posture and gait. Due to the progressive nature of PD, yoga programs may offer a way to maintain wellness and quality of life.”
But the key is that our practice must be easy, gentle, and have an aspect of relaxation in order to reap the full benefits.
How Yoga Helps
When done gently, our yoga practice slows the breath, calms the mind and helps us bring awareness and aliveness to every part of the body.
- The quieter aspects of the practice allow the full Relaxation Response to occur and tremors are diminished.
- Using props and supports help to improve strength, mobility, and range of motion.
- Balance improves as awareness increases and our connection to the ground is used to help.
- Posture is also improved as the body releases old tension, and we bring more awareness, energy and movement to the upper body.
- Gait improvements are also experienced because we feel stronger, yet relaxed and stable through the movement of the legs.
Perform Asanas With Support
Using props and supports during your physical practice is important for safety, and also frees up your attention to allow you to engage more fully with different parts of the body with more awareness.
- Use the floor – Constructive Rest Rocking is very soothing on the nervous system and helps the hip-flexors and eases breathing.
- Use a wall, desk, or a counter top to support your standing poses. Using the supports so you can focus on your balance by bringing more awareness to your feet, legs, and pelvis.
- Use the chair for seated poses that allow you maximum support. Engage the muscles of the legs by hugging the muscles to the bones and feeling strong without over-exerting yourself.
Gentle Breathing Practices
Breathing practices to calm the mind and settle the body.
- Nadi Shodanha (Alternate Nostril Breathing) is effective at creating a sense of balance in the body, and calmness of the mind.
- Ujjaiy (Victorious) breathing helps to slow the breath down and calm the heart.
Watch the Healing Yoga webisode for Parkinson’s below:
Be Present For Emotional Wellbeing
Because of the progressive nature of Parkinson’s, it’s completely natural to feel stressed and worried about the future. But this actually creates the stress stimulus in the mind and body, exacerbating tremors and weakening the immune system.
- Give yourself permission to set time aside to stay in the present moment with meditation. Set a timer for 5 minutes and watch the breath and how the body breathes the breath.
- Notice how different parts of your body feel and see how much more alive you feel when your awareness is there.
- If you mind wanders away, this is perfectly natural. Without judging, just keep coming back to the breath until the timer goes.
Over time you may want to lengthen the time of your meditations and the frequency to morning and night. This kind of simple practice can make all the difference in the world if you deal with any kind of anxiety and depression.
What about the Caregivers?
Caregiver burnout is rampant and these practices are incredibly helpful as well! It’s so important to care from a place of being centered, strong, and whole ourselves. Yoga can help energize us so we can get to take on the extra responsibilities that come with being a caregiver without burning out!
Overall, Yoga is a wonderful practice that allows us to feel relaxed and whole, just as we are, no matter what our condition. In Iyengar’s words, “Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like you are constantly trying to fit broken pieces together.”
– Deborah Devine
*Healing Yoga provides insight meant to help you in improving your health and overall wellbeing. However, the information presented above is offered for informational and educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for the judgment of a medical professional, or consultation with qualified practitioners.
Healing Yoga, Deborah Devine, and the Brand New ONE make no warranty or representation regarding the services or products provided through or in connection with the website. Use your own discretion when performing any postures.
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We strongly recommend seeking professional medical advice before performing any techniques, poses, postures or routines presented on this site.