Tuesday, July 1, 2008

yoga and parkinson's Disease by JongHau Foo

Yoga and Parkinson Disease

Yoga, what is it all about? Everyone seems to talk about it. Many people are doing yoga or at least try it once. Yoga has suddenly become a worldwide obsession. Many superstars have personal instructors while millions of people in cities and towns around the world head to their fitness centers, dance studios or yoga studios to stretch and sweat it out to become more flexible, stronger and leaner. Newspapers and magazines claim it is a solution to our stressful lives, an antidote for health malady and much more. However, the yoga that we practice today bears little resemblance to what it is 2000 years ago as it has evolved to meet the current cultures.

So what is yoga actually? Can Parkinson disease’s (PD) patient do yoga and can it improve their conditions, help them to cope with everyday lives and live better? To answer these questions let us just understand yoga a little bit better. Now, from a distance observation, yoga is a physical exercises comprising of postures and stretches, some simple while others are mind boggling. Nevertheless, it is more than that as there is a strong connection between the body, mind and spirit of the yoga practitioners. The combination of the body, mind and spirit exercises are to promote stillness and subdue distractions. By calming your mind, you will be able to bring positive aspects of life and see the joy of living, give thanks to what you have, what you are and the fact that you are still alive. In short, be aware of your well being.

Awareness is a key theme for yoga. It helps you to understand yourself better, especially when it comes to balancing postures. For instance, a normal person would usually be able to balance when he/she raises one leg up because the brain manages the action unconsciously. However, for PD patients, it’s an extremely difficult task to achieve as the connectivity between the brain the other parts of the body are some what distorted. Therefore, yoga teaches you to use your mental awareness and tap into your consciousness to gain some stability. It is a new learning process as it tries to get the brain and the body to connect. It is something like a baby trying to learn to stand for the first time.

We are living in an instant world where everyone wants things “NOW!” instant food, instant service, instant money and even instant health. We pop a pill down our throat and expect to recover instantly or at least by tomorrow. Unfortunately things don’t work this way. Yoga can indeed help to improve many illnesses, including PD, but it is also through hard work, consistency and determination. Some people may see the result after a few lessons, some in a few months but others in a few years. Eventually it all boils down to your own perseverance and patient is indeed a virtue here. Never give up and you will see light at the end of the tunnel.

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