movement disorders

January 17, 2011

Shell Shock

I think I’m in love. The way he moves with a dignified slowness, each step a concentrated effort, draws me to his side. Small obstacles cause a moment’s hesitation, but he makes it past them. Sometimes by backing up before turning, sometimes by stumbling onward. Not entirely graceful, but I admire how he forges ahead with a certain determination. I can relate to it. It amuses me how he eats with gusto. Not always the tidiest diner, scraps of a salad remain on his chin a bit before he wipes them away. And given options at dinner, he reaches for the sweet items first. Why munch first on lettuce when mango and kiwi are available? I can so relate. Did I mention that he also prefers warm temperatures and particularly enjoys basking in the heat following a good meal. Oh, how I can relate. My affections came as a surprise […]
May 11, 2011

Parkinson’s in Translation

In a recent issue of Good Housekeeping, Michael J. Fox answers an interview question about the challenges of living with Parkinson's. He responds that one of the most awkward aspects is that people don't know what to say.Perhaps they don't quite know how to say it.
May 16, 2011

Thread the Needle Pose Modifications

Thread the Needle pose releases tension in the shoulders and neck, opens up the scapular muscles and rotates the vertebrae in the upper back. These are key areas to target in people with Parkinson’s. They are also common areas of rigidity in others with restricted movement. And when the neck and shoulders are tense, it can be difficult to relax elsewhere and  can even trigger tension further down the spine. The traditional expression of the pose, however, may not be a good match for someone with a movement disorder. Getting down to the mat to start in table position, for example, can be a challenge for some. In addition,  balance becomes precarious after releasing one hand from the mat. Modified, this pose offers the benefits of the full pose but from a more stable base position. Standing Variation This first variation to Thread the Needle pose begins in a Tadasana, […]
May 26, 2011

Step Back

Whether jogging or practicing yoga, activities that ramp up the heart rate, strengthen, stretch and get us moving hold numerous benefits. Studies support that exercise can increase stamina, enhance balance, lessen symptom severity in chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s, help with sleep issues and so much more. But what are we supposed to do when when the meds don’t kick in at the same time we’re kicking up our sneakers? At the gym last week, I faced this very situation. Headphones on, I tuned in to my quick-beat play list and pressed Quick Start on the elliptical machine. Within minutes, my meds waned and the recent dose hadn’t seeped into my gray matter yet. My legs slowed. I listened as the drumbeat sped on without me. The options were to wait it out on a bench or in continue at half-speed. The day’s schedule had no extra time in it. […]
June 4, 2011

Yoga for Parkinson’s: The Optimistic Warrior

One of three main yogic warriors, Virabhadrasana II holds a special place in the heart of my practice. This pose builds core strength and enhances balance, a benefit to many bodies, especially those with PD, dystonia or recovering from stroke. More powerful, though, than what this pose offers physically is its manifestation of something deeper, something that grows from the heart:  hope. The Pose We begin by pressing down evenly into where we’re grounded on the mat or chair. As the upper body moves into warrior II, one arm stretches back, the other extends in front. An important element of the pose, even when making modifications, is to maintain balance between the opposing reaches. Behind us, our fingertips nearly touch the past, but we don’t tilt into it. At the same time, we’re pointing toward the future, without leaning toward it. Our body remains centered between what was and what […]
June 30, 2011

This Isn’t Helping: Yoga for Movement Disorders

You’ve read that yoga is beneficial. Even though you can’t see yourself folding into a pretzel. Even if you’re like many who don’t move with ease and think, I can’t do yoga. Imagine that you search for yoga and Parkinson’s or yoga and movement disorders. Site listings pop up. Perhaps you think that maybe, just maybe you can. You click on one of the number of sites that bring you to yoga for movement disorders. If you click on one of the first few, an image appears on your screen. The beach. Yoga for movement disorders is taking place on the beach. If a picture paints a thousand words, this image paints the same five words 200 times: See, I can’t do yoga. See, I can’t do yoga. See . . . Setting Yoga for movement disorders begins with the breath. As it moves into asana practice, second to the breath […]
July 3, 2011

Living with Parkinson’s: A Moving Experience

Sometimes, we meet individuals who change us, help us grow more into ourselves. They exude courage, acceptance,  love. These qualities permeate the space between us until we, too, become more courageous, accepting, loving. I spent a full weekend surrounded by more than 40 of these very people. At the first, APDA-sponsored Parkinson’s Disease Arts & Movement Weekend, we gathered not to mourn our losses living with a degenerative disease but to celebrate the abundance of all we have, all we can do, all that we are. Together, we danced, sang, moved through yoga and Tai Chi. We learned to shift perspective of our world to that of a photographer’s eye and to create,  express, and simply play with paint and color. We became, not people with PD, but dancers, yogis,  artists. Courage If courage means letting go of the familiar, courage checked in to the PD Arts & Movement Weekend with […]
August 1, 2011

Parkinson’s Disease Myth #1

Parkinson’s is a disease of the elderly. If this myth were a reality, my pharmacy shopping basket would not include a Mirapex prescription alongside tampons and No. 2 pencils. If this myth were a reality, there would be more gray hair among the students in my yoga classes. Conversations would be filled with tales of retirement rather than of the challenges of balancing career and family with a chronic disease. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Roughly 10 – 20 percent of those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease are under age 50, and about half of those are diagnosed before age 40.” If this reality were to become as prevalent as the myth, there would be more people willing to participate in studies. Or more who wish to learn about the phases and process of research trials. Here’s hoping that a cure becomes reality. Maybe it’ll even happen before I’m old enough to be a […]
August 28, 2011

Modifying Child’s Pose

One of the more restful of yoga positions, Balasana, or Child’s Pose, taps into an inner peacefulness. In Balasana, the spine elongates and the shoulder blades broaden, sending messages throughout the nervous system that relay an overall calming. I can recall a great number of times checking on my son when he was younger. There in his crib, he epitomized child’s pose. With bent knees supporting his upper body, his tailbone touched down between both heels, an arm stretched along each side, and he breathed that full, rhythmic breath of a sleeping child. Someone  with a movement disorder, however, may find this position not only challenging but counter productive. Bent knees can trigger involuntary dorsal flexion in the feet for someone recovering from a stroke. Pressure on the feet of a person living with Parkinson’s or dystonia can result in painful cramping in the toes or plantar area. That said, those […]
September 22, 2011

PD Attitude of Gratitude

  My gratitude list continues: Autumn leaves: Especially the feisty ones, rimmed in crimson and yellow but holding onto veins of green.  They display their nature – our nature – to resist change at the same time surrendering to it. NEPD Ride Volunteers: The New England PD Ride in support of the MJF Foundation proved to be a smooth 50 miles for Team Mama. The route was lined with good cheer, good food, great attitudes. The teams of volunteers providing much heart and help to the Team Fox riders and were probably responsible for the pristine weather. All in all, a delightful day of riding for a cure. Thank you. Elementary School Friends: As my son begins fourth grade, I recall a few friendships solidifying when I walked the halls of St. Christopher’s. I have the priveledge of gathering with two of the dearest of those friends for a whole […]