Parkinson’s disease commonly effects a person’s movements, balance, and spatial reasoning, while causing muscle rigidity. The disease progresses, while making symptoms more pronounced over time. Medical professionals have not developed a cure, but there are ways to relieve the symptoms during the first decade of the disease. As the disease progresses, medications are often necessary to make daily life more bearable. Yoga has been proven as an effective adjunct therapy for Parkinson’s patients. It helps patients regain motor coordination, control, flexibility, strength, and balance.
Traditional Yoga poses, especially some of the standing poses, which require balance, will not be the best choice for Parkinson’s patients. Lack of balance can cause the patients to worry about falling over or injuring their selves. Putting a student at risk of injury is extremely unwise on the part of a Yoga instructor. In order to provide a relaxing experience for Parkinson’s patients, a Yoga teacher should adapt poses for sitting in a chair. Over time, patients might also be able to use a wall for support, or straps, blocks, or blankets to adapt the poses. Patients will still get the benefits each pose provides, but the modifications will ensure a safe, gentle practice.
Yoga provides an overall body stretch, which can affect the entire body as well as the mind. The stretches encourage new blood to flow throughout the entire body, reaching all of its important organs. This results in more energy and a feeling of health and wellness. Joints and muscles become more flexible, allowing movements to come more easily and smoothly. Stress levels often decrease, as the patients become more physically active. The meditative portion of Yoga can also benefit Parkinson’s patients by providing them a healthy outlet for stress and anxiety. Deep breathing methods teach patients to fill up the belly and lungs to release negative thoughts and emotions, clear the mind, and focus on health and wellness.
Mountain pose allows patients to focus on good posture and balance. In a chair, ask patients to sit with hips and shoulders aligned, and the spine and neck aligned. Gaze can focus softly forward, or the eyes may be closed. Feet can be planted firmly on the floor. Ask patients to breathe deeply while noticing how their weight is equally distributed throughout the body.
Trunk circles get the blood and energy flowing within the body, and loosen the hips and sides of the body. Sitting in a chair, patients can bend forward at the hips, and then sweep the torso up and to the right, forming a complete circle. Remind patients to keep the head, neck and spine aligned. Repeat circles in both directions.