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Yoga Eases Stiffness due to Parkinson's

by Renee Le Verrier, Parkinson's Disease Expert
July 28, 2017

Question: How can stiffness in the body’s core due to Parkinson’s can be helped by yoga?

Answer:

The core muscles include not only the abdominals (abs), which we use to sit up, but also laterals (for sideways motion) and some in the back (for upright posture, primarily). In addition, there are muscles between each rib that expand and contract when we breathe.

Stiffness comes with the shortening of muscles. When we extend and stretch, we’re actually trying to lengthen the fibers in the muscles. If we can lengthen them and follow with relaxing into that longer state, we feel less restricted in our movement.

Less restricted in the core means better posture, and with better posture, our balance improves and fall risk decreases. An added benefit that can be gained from increasing the ability to turn and twist is better digestion, less constipation.

Easing restriction in breathing gives us more energy and can help raise voice volume.

Yoga is  often referred to as a meditation in motion. Combine an awareness of your breathing – full, even inhales when expanding the chest and exhales when collapsing the chest (rounding the back or bending down) – enhances physical poses or stretches.

Bringing a mental awareness into your poses or stretches while keeping focus on your breathing are the key ingredients to yoga practice, particularly in the body’s core.

Renee Le Verrier is the co-director of the APDA's Arts & Movement Program and, in partnership with the APDA, she leads a Parkinson's Yoga Teacher Training Certificate Program. She is the author of the book, "Yoga for Movement Disorders" and its Companion DVD. She is also a certified yoga instructor and specializes in creating adaptations for people living with movement disorders.

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