Teaching Yoga to Students with Parkinson’s Disease

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Teaching Yoga to Students with Parkinson’s Disease

yoga teacher trainingBy Faye Martins

Among our Yoga certification requirements should be and ethics agreement that should contain a message about ahimsa (non-harming). I’m sure most Yoga teacher training courses have a form similar to the ethics agreement that interns in my class signed. Ahimsa is so important that you can’t have compassion for others without it. When teaching Yoga students who have any neurological disorder, the instructor must show compassion.

We all know that Yoga helps to prevent disease and maintain agility, but anecdotal evidence shows that it may be useful in treating Parkinson’s disease, too. A brain disorder that causes tremors and makes walking difficult, Parkinson’s usually strikes people over 50. Although common among senior citizens, it can also affect younger adults.

Common Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

• Problems with balance

• Stooped posture

• Lack of facial expression or excessive blinking

• Muscular pain and rigidity

• Difficulty with walking or other forms of movement

• Changes in handwriting

• Shaking, or tremors

• Speaking slowly or in monotones

• Autonomic dysfunction, such as low blood pressure or sweating

• Emotional and mental problems, such as depression, anxiety and dementia

Early treatment helps to control the severity of symptoms and the progression of the disease, but there is no cure. Paul Zeiger, Yoga instructor, retired engineer and Parkinson’s sufferer, says that Yoga is one of the best ways to fight the disorder’s neurological damage.

Benefits of Yogic Exercise in the Fight against Parkinson’s

• Addresses physical symptoms, such as stiffness, balance and movement

• Works with the mind-body connection to improve overall well-being

• Reduces muscle atrophy caused by lack of use

• Helps to restore deep breathing and reduce panic caused by physical symptoms

• Strengthens mental alertness, increases circulation and augments flexibility

• Uses meditation to improve mood and autonomic nervous system function

• Provides supportive environment for patients to share information

To avoid fatigue and injury, people with Parkinson’s disease should practice Yogic exercise regularly but with moderation. Using chairs for support makes it possible for almost anyone to participate, and twist-like poses increase range-of-motion and ease daily tasks. Restorative Yoga, in general, renews energy, decreases insomnia and enhances the quality of life.

In 2002, clinical studies in Denmark indicated a 65 percent temporary increase in dopamine levels of Parkinson’s participants during meditation and Restorative Yoga. More recently, researchers at the University of Virginia, Stanford University and Kansas State University are conducting trials to support its use in the management of Parkinson’s symptoms and the possible delay of its debilitating onslaught.

Once again, the healing arts of the ancient eastern world are proving useful in the technical world of western medicine.

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One Comment

  1. Masud Parvez March 7, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Yoga is one of the best ways to fight the disorder’s neurological damage. Thanks for posting this informative article.

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