Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Yoga Exercises for Parkinson's Disease

how to become a certified yoga therapist
By Kimaya Singh

Can Yoga help people with Parkinson's disease? It's difficult to listen to promises and receive nothing in return. Yoga teachers are not all equal in knowledge or continuing education. Some can work with Parkinson's patients, but others can only teach flexible athletes because they really don't understand how the body works. How can there be such a difference? Each style is different in a approaching how exactly to run a 200 hour yoga instructor training program and that's all there is to it. Some trainings are geared to kick butt and some are designed to approach the therapeutic aspects of Yogic methodology.

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a degenerative illness in the substantia nigra region of the brain, which controls muscle movement in the body. The part of the brain, which produces dopamine, fails to work. The effects of the disease get worse over time and the damaging loss of brain cells is irreversible. Patients typically suffer body-shaking tremors and have speech pathology problems. Unfortunately, the disease is not well understood enough to have a cure.

Around 60,000 cases of PD are diagnosed each year. 1.5 million cases have been found in total throughout America. At ages 55-60 the greatest loss of dopamine producing nerve cells occurs. Michael J. Fox is one of the most well known people with the disease. Many younger patients have it, but do not display tremor symptoms. They may only be able to operate at 20% less than their capacity for movement. Scientists are not positive if the cause is genetic or from toxic pollutants like pesticides. A patient with PD will begin to feel stiffness in their core during walking and other types of movement in general.

The John F. Kennedy Institute Of Denmark performed a medical study in 2002, which resulted in a 65% increase of short-term dopamine levels during restorative yoga exercises and poses. A 2005 pilot study at Cornell University showed wonderful results for patients with PD who saw major benefits just from their group interaction. They understood each other better than the doctors could.

Yoga training can help the dopamine deficient strengthen their muscles and keep their mind focused on the movement. Yogic methods help the mind concentrate on the center of the body. Yoga movements could help to re-route the brains neurological pathways. The mind learns to use new parts of the brain to perform the work of degenerated cells.

Yogic exercise routines should include only gentle and slow movements to strengthen the core. Lessons are preferable in a calm and non-stressful environment.

Yoga is only advised as a possible alternative or adjunct therapy to standard treatment. Patients who have akinesia (loss of movement), physical difficulty standing in a pose, or have balance problems, will not be able to rehearse typical asanas.

So what do you do? Find a chair, restorative or a vinyoga teacher or a therapist. A certified Yoga therapist can work with any person, whether they are in a wheelchair or a hospital bed. The best exercises to start with are seated pranayama, asana, relaxation, and meditation techniques. Seated techniques can be practiced on a chair, bench, couch or floor. If a patient is in a hospital bed, Yogic techniques can be practiced in supine or a propped up seated position.

Many patients who have PD can do more from standing positions, but an evaluation in the form of a private lesson, with family members welcome, is a good start. A private session let's everyone understand a safe starting point. From that point on, realistic goals can be set. 

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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