How Yoga can help with Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease, apparently grave, is no more dreaded to incapacitate the patient since Yoga has proved a boon. An overview of Parkinson’s disease tells us that it is a progressive disorder of the neurological system affecting the movements and cognition of the patient. It is believed to be caused by the decrease in dopamine levels, a chemical influencing activity in the brain. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the presence of tremors, slowness of movements and rigidity of the muscles. It usually affects patients at the age of 60 years or above and is found to be commoner in men than in women. Since the occurrence of Parkinson’s disease is hereditary there are no ways of preventing it. It is diagnosed merely by the history, examination, and appearance of the patient and not by means of any lab tests. The most difficult part about Parkinson’s is that it affects the gait, posture, balance, speech and writing making day to day activities restricted and increasing the risk of falls in elderly. In the later stages it also affects thinking and reasoning with tendency to anxiety, fear, and depression.

How Yoga can help with Parkinson’s disease:

Yoga’s rejuvenating powers have immense benefits such as:

  • Yoga improves mobility and functioning of the body by strengthening various groups of muscles. This helps in training the body to become flexible and attaining the maximum range of motion. Asanas like the Uttanasana or the standing forward bend pose stretches the muscles of the back and the hamstrings to give power to the spine which in turn helps maintain posture.
  • Yoga relieves stiffness of the muscles to a great extent energizing the body to continue with routine activities which is a major concern in Parkinson’s. The asana which involves trunk circles made by bending forward with feet apart and knees straight and then sweeping the torso towards the right and up and then towards left and up helps tremendously in releasing any tension in the muscles of the entire body. By relieving stiffness and rigidity of the body a Parkinson’s patient can carry out various movements with ease.
  • Yoga brings a great deal of stability in the body to maintain posture and balance. Another grave concern in Parkinson’s disease, loss of balance leading to falls, definitely calls for the mountain pose and the upward salute pose. Standing with feet firmly on the ground and arms stretched above the head and in front of the body with palms pressed together and holding this pose for as long as possible improves the ability of the body to counterbalance weight and maintain equilibrium. This helps in better control and agility and the patients benefit by a significant decrease in the risk of falls.
  • Yoga quiets the mind and calms the body too for better cognitive functioning. Parkinson’s disease affects the power of perception, learning, and reasoning greatly affecting the quality of life. Asanas like the Virbhadrasana or the warrior pose in which standing with feet wide apart and arms stretched at shoulder level, one foot is turned outward to 90 degree with the knee bent while the other foot is turned in 60 degree with knee stretched like a warrior. Maintaining this pose while regulating breathing stabilizes the unsteady mind and brings down both mental and bodily agitation. This not only improves thinking but also restores memory and greatly benefits the Parkinson’s patient’s capability of inference saving them of embarrassment.
  • Yoga alleviates fatigue and reduces stress, both being the hallmark symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Fatigue of the muscles as well as general tiredness leading to dragging of feet and abnormal gait can be considerably improved with asanas like the Supta Baddha Konasana or the reclining bound angle pose. It involves lying down on a bolster with hips at the edge and hands under the head, thighs stretched outward hinged at the knees and both feet facing each other. Deep breaths taken slowly and steadily, gradually relaxes the entire body and liberates it of any kind of stress.
  • Yoga enhances the mind and body co-ordination to uplift the mood and psychosocial well being. This helps control symptoms of anxiety and depression making even the later stages of Parkinson’s disease less painful!
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