a lesson on acceptance from the fantastic mr. fox

there comes a point where we all have to face a challenge or we encounter a roadblock… and sometimes it takes stepping up to the challenge and doing the work, while other times the only thing to do is practice acceptance.

I read this quote from Michael J. Fox, in Parade magazine (READ HERE) on acceptance, and found it not only relevant to persons with chronic diseases, but also to the challenges we all may face at one time or another in our lives.

On accepting Parkinson’s.
“I don’t look at life as a battle or as a fight. I don’t think I’m scrappy. I’m accepting. I say ‘living with’ or ‘working through’ Parkinson’s. Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it. I look at it like I’m a fluid that’s finding the fissures and cracks and flowing through.

Pretty amazing perspective, from someone who not only has been ‘living with‘ Parkinson’s for 20 years, but has also single-handedly (well, his foundation) become the largest private funder of Parkinson’s research in the world!

April 1st marks the start of Parkinson’s awareness month… and promoting the Parkinson’s exercise revolution!! We’ll be exercising at this month’s Kelowna PD Support Group (April 5th, 7pm), and every Tuesday during PD Yoga classes at Moksha Yoga Kelowna, so don’t forget to join me!

Here’s a great PSA MJF did during a recent Canucks game…

and a new announcement from Parkinson Society BC

and don’t forget, in whatever challenges you face you are not alone. Much love.

time out for caregivers, langley

I’m in awe of caregivers.

I was in Langley last week, for the latest “Time Out for Caregivers” workshop, sponsored by Parkinson Society BC (you can access PDF of the presentation HERE).

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I really have to commend PSBC for supporting these workshops, not just because it gives me the opportunity to contribute, but because there is this HUGE under serviced group of people (i.e. informal caregivers) who play a major role in the interdisciplinary healthcare team caring for older adult populations. And they go almost completely unrecognized by the government!

Caregivers never ask for help for themselves, but we need to start telling them that it’s ok to care for themselves, which can be anything from more social opportunities to making appointments for themselves, so that they are well-enough to provide care for their spouse or loved one.

During these workshops, I try and get them to think about the tough issues,

what happens when PD progresses (i.e. changes to personality, mood, abilities), and how is this changing the quality of your relationship?” or

have you made any plans for getting more help or institutionalization in the future?” and

do you know what the steps are to get respite?

… but also things like “how do you still go out and enjoy yourselves together?

I was so impressed by the attendees at this last workshops (all 40 of them!!), they were so engaged in learning new tips on how to deal with symptoms and providing the best care and so open to sharing both their triumphs and struggles… but it’s very interested to hear caregivers frame their discussion around their spouses needs. Caregivers have the habit of contextualizing everything in what’s best for their care receiver. It made me realize, we have to start asking caregivers what they need for THEMSELVES, and get them to start thinking about their needs.

I hope that we have created a bit of an awareness around taking the time for themselves, because caregivers deserve it!

Parkinson’s awareness month is only 10 days away! … and look what I saw on my way to the workshop in Langley (at the locals Starbucks, no doubt)… how appropriate! much love

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aligned spine & strong core

Yoga is so beneficial for persons living with PD. On a basic level, yoga help improve blood circulation, flexibility, and the alertness of mind. In addition, we’ve talked about a few pranayama (breathing) techniques (breath of joy, lion’s breath), which are used to control the breath, and can help reduce the anxiety or tension that can be caused by PD symptoms.

Though PD does not always weaken the muscles of the body at first, I encourage people living with PD to practice yoga daily. What does this look like? Well, it could be as simple as spending a few moments in a spinal twist when first waking up, taking the time for childs pose before bed, or finding your yogic breath to help get through a discomfortable episode (which could be tremor, freezing or dyskinesia). However, because people living with PD experience fatigue, MODERATION is important. Yoga improves physical/mental awareness, making you better able to read your body and distinguish what you feel you SHOULD do (vigorous movement) compared to what your body REALLY NEEDS (rest!).

what is your body telling you?

This week I wanted to introduce core strengthening postures that can benefit those living with PD. Core exercises strengthen the spine and abdominal muscles, align the pelvis and sacrum. Core exercises that engage the spine (and keep it long) can be very beneficial to persons living with PD, who experience a forward stooped posture, though taking care of any low back discomfort.

Here I’m introducing a video by some researchers at the University of Waterloo who discuss proper alignment of the spine in core exercises. We spend time doing core strengtheners in my PD yoga class, and the exercises shown in the video are fairly accessible to a wide range of populations… maybe not “stirring the pot”, but definitely taking the first steps. Hope this video introduces some concepts around spinal alignment and other awareness during core exercises. Hope you get inspired and fire up that core! much love

work-life balance / take a time out, caregivers!

I came across a WONDERFUL blog post this morning… Nora Issacs guest blog post on Yoga Journal discussed how work/life balance is achievable… and do you know what point#1 was? STOP MULTITASKING!

I knew I was on to something… hope you’re still with me 🙂 You can check out the post by clicking HERE!

… now, on another note…

caregivers in langley BC, listen up! i’m coming to you! March 15th at the Langley Golf Centre from 1-4pm

what a great opportunity to connect with the local PD caregiving community, learn a few tips and take some TIME OUT for yourself, you deserve it 🙂 much love.

Head to this link for more information Time Out for Caregivers! Langley Workshop | Parkinson Society British Columbia

much love.

feel JOY

Tomorrow I start my next Parkinson’s yoga series, and I can’t wait to get back to Moksha Yoga Kelowna with the returning students and new faces that have signed up. I’m feeling the love!

And what better way to celebrate than with breath of joy!

This deep breathing exercise (pranayama) brings energy (and joy!) to your practice, as well as works on coordination, allowing the breath and movement to work together in one fluid motion. Amy Weintraub author of Yoga for Depression says: “(this) breathing exercise can sweep away cobwebs of lethargy and bring more energy into your life.”

Benefits

  • first inhalation (arms forward) encourages diaphragmatic breathing
  • second inhalation (arms to the side) encourages thoracic breathing
  • third inhalation (arms up) encourages clavicular breathing
  • allows deep and complete exhalation at the end
  • energizes the entire body
  • strengthens arms and shoulders
  • will make you smile 🙂

Contraindications

  • Because the head is below the heart at some points, you may feel lightheaded. Take your time and relax in between
  • If you have low blood pressure, practice slowly and go less deeply into the bend on the final exhalation
  • Avoid if you suffer from untreated high blood pressure, migraines, or glaucoma
  • Flex the knees to protect the low back

How

I’m going to leave this up to Amy, who demonstrates it so “joyfully”!

enJOY, much love.

Parkinson’s Exercise Revolution!

Primarily, PD awareness month aims to raise awareness of PD and how it affects individuals, families and the wider spectrum of the community.

What is EXCITING this year, is that they have added a second goal – to encourage the PD community to participate in the Parkinson’s Exercise Revolution!

Exercise is believed to improve physical functioning, strength, balance and gait, as well as mood and cognitive function in person’s with PD.

So on April 11th, World Parkinson’s Day, get out and get moving!

… and you can do this by coming to my Parkinson’s yoga class on April 10th… I know it’s the day before, but we’ll make it count 😉 Or you can start your own yoga revolution next week because classes start TUESDAY MARCH 6th! See you there, much love.