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How does the yogic principle of acceptance help those suffering from Parkinson's?

by Renee Le Verrier, Parkinson's Disease Expert
August 11, 2017

Question: How does the yogic principle of acceptance help those suffering from Parkinson's?

Answer: “Yoga,” according to B. K. S. Iyengar, one of the gurus who introduced the practice to the West, “teaches us to cure what need not be endured and to endure what cannot be cured.” The words suffer and endure may be synonymous, but suffer seems more of a reaction to something bad that has happened while endure strikes me as the more active, a choice.

Yoga is really all about awareness, physically and emotionally. It’s a tool we can use to connect what’s going on in our bodies with what we’re thinking and feeling.

When practicing poses, muscles are flexed and stretched and our strength and balance can improve. When awareness accompanies the motion – awareness of what we moved and flexed, how it felt and how we actually moved – helps off the mat, too. By being aware of how we move, especially as we move differently or more slowly with Parkinson’s, we move with more care. Our awareness can help us learn to move differently, which can save us from falls, boost our patience with ourselves, reduce anxiety. Awareness can flex and stretch and strengthen and balance our minds in conjunction with the poses. It helps us endure.

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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