happy holidays!

well, it’s official. the holiday season is starting.

we are dropping Levon off with his friends at Pet Pampering (boy, is he excited!!) and Darc and I are leaving on a jet plane. I know a lot of you are travelling this season, here is a wonderful post from Daily Cup of Yoga about “Up in the Air Yoga” – some tips, advice, and practices to help you travel in yogi-style.

Have a wonderful holiday – see you in January! much love.

Christmas morning, Port Elgin ON 1985

Christmas morning in Port Elgin, 1985 (still sleepy!)

neighbourhood santa Christmas 1988

neighbourhood santa Christmas 1988 (a bit creepy, right?)

Christmas 1989

Christmas in North Sydney, 1989 (apparently my only PJs?)

Christmas in Magdeburg Germany 2007

Christmas in Magdeburg Germany, 2007

Christmas in Kelowna 2009
Christmas in Kelowna BC, 2009

Christmas in Port Elgin, 2010

Christmas in Port Elgin, 2010

Tequila Christmas in Cabo, 2011

Christmas in Cabo, 2011

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perfect posture

WHAT? “every inch of forward head posture can increased the weight on the spine by 10lbs?” Mom was right, stand up straight!

Stooped posture is commonly associated with long term Parkinson’s disease. Postural instability can cause patients to have a stooped posture in which the head is bowed and the shoulders are drooped. As the disease progresses, walking may be affected – slow or shuffling gait.

Maintaining and strengthening the body structure is an aspect of managing PD. This severe forward head carriage, increased curvature of the upper back an forward flexed arms. This posture is caused by many factors, including spinal rigidity, loss of normal subconscious posture control, poor balance, and a loss of normal proprioception (movement sensation of the joints).

The structure of the spine is the foundation of posture, and abnormal spine is associated with unhealthy postures. Abnormal posture causes and worsens disc decay, causes pain,contributes to spinal arthritis, and is associated with disability. Poor posture is associated with many health conditions such as limited range of motion, breathing difficulties, cardiovascular disease, headaches, poor balance, jaw pain, shoulder/arm pain, and numbness/tingling.

Specific to PD, the cervical spine (neck) and the thoracic spine (upper/middle back) are regions greatly stressed due to the development of “hyperkyphosis.” Hyperkyphosis is related to early morbidity and mortality. The hyper-kyphotic posture is not only physically stressful but it potentially shortens lifespan.

spinesurgery.com

Posture is a subconscious state.

Do you know what works? Repetitive movements with medium to long holds that involve whole body movements, and challenge balance/stability. This, however, is more difficult for patients with PD because the areas of the brain that help control posture are simply deficient. Therefore, persons with PD must utilize concentration or “cognitive” activity to compensate for the lack of reflexive control. An analogy of this concept is driving a “standard” automobile instead of an “automatic.” The “automatic” car shifts gears on its own (reflexive) but in a “standard” the driver must know when to shift to make the car move efficiently (cognitive).

The best initial treatment involves management of your pain, physical therapy to recover lost range of movement, and adjustment of your meds to help mobility. Also, YOGA (of course!) … here is some details on Tadasana, or Mountain Pose to improve posture in PD.

Another tip from Parkinson’s Society Canada:  Emphasize the anti-gravity muscle group! “These are the muscles that straighten you or make you taller.” Back extensors, knee straighteners, triceps – the muscles at the back of the elbow that straighten the arms, enabling you to reach up, to the side and behind the back, shoulder blade squeezes. “These work against the typical stooped posture in Parkinson’s.”

Open your heart and stand up tall! much love.

Some other references: How Do I Treat “Stooping” Caused By Parkinson’s?, Parkinson’s Post

building brain muscles -or- practice makes perfect

When you practice learning something new, you’re building new neural pathways in your brain. The more intense the practice, the stronger and more functional those neural pathways, and the better you can play the piano or the more likely you are to make a three-pointer with your non-dominant hand.

Fortunately, old dogs CAN learn new tricks, and as you get older your brain can continue to build new pathways and get stronger, even if it’s at a slower pace than when you were younger. To make sure your brain stays toned and ready to fire you need EXERCISE! You can protect prefrontal and temporal gray matter volume and forge new neural pathways with daily physical activity!

Happily, this brain-building technique also can help folks who develop a neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson’s, in which old pathways are lost and new ones are hard to develop. At Dr. Mike’s Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, intense exercise improves symptoms for more than 30 percent of people with Parkinson’s.

Learning-based memory exercises can also help keep our memory sharp… umm have you tried LUMOSITY? I love their games, it’s a great break during the day!

… and remember that change is possible at any time. Not only is our brain plastic (able to be “remapped” toward greater health, calm, memory, and reduction of pain) but also our thoughts and feelings can be reshaped on a daily basis. We can begin to experience positive transformation within days—a transformation that can be sustained over a lifetime.

so, try a new hobby, activity or brain game today! What are you waiting for? much love.

(adapted from NGNEWS)

Favourite things – parkinson’s resource books: exercise

1. This book outlines not only yoga, but also covers range of motion exercises, low to no-impact aerobics, strength training, relaxation/meditation and T’ai Chi. The exercises are explained in detail utilizing safe body mechanics and has illustrated variations. This complete wellness program also offers information on home safety, fall prevention, activities of daily living, and body mechanics (including how to get up from the floor) as well as facial and voice projection exercises. It explains how each movement technique physiologically affects the body and specifically help Parkinson’s disease. (goodreads.com) Lori’s website HERE!

2. A daily guide to yoga practice designed for people with dystonia, muscle imbalance, rigidity, and spasms due to such causes as Parkinson’s, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. The focus is on rebuilding strength and flexibility as well as physical and emotional balance. The mind/body connection is woven throughout,and each chapter concludes with a brief list of why the day’s practice is beneficial along with suggestions of how to apply the poses and concepts to everyday activities. LIM (Less Is More) Yoga, it tones and stretches gently, without exertion and with an emphasis on relaxation (amazon.ca). Check out Renee’s website HERE and blog HERE – she is truly an inspiring yogini!

3. John Argue has distilled information from his classes for Parkinson’s patients into a comprehensive exercise program designed to help you improve flexibility, balance, gait, and communication. Over 100 photographs illustrate the exercises, which derive from yoga and tai chi techniques and theater movement skills. Techniques in the book encompass a variety of daily activities. This is a wonderful comprehensive resource!

4. Here is a GLOWING review from an Amazon reviewer… I couldn’t have said it better myself : “Parkinson’s patients who buy David Zid’s exercise book will have no excuse for skipping a workout regardless of where they happen to be… Unlike other exercise books, routines covered in Delay the Disease don’t call for investment in specialized equipment… The book’s design makes Delay the Disease user friendly. Each exercise is illustrated with as many as four pictures in color on heavy paper. Spiral binding makes it easy to hold the book open to the appropriate page”  It is a practical user-friendly guide. Check out his website HERE!

There are great resources to start with… what resources have you found inspiring to get you UP and MOVING with Parkinson’s? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. much love.

P.S. in case you missed it, some of my favourite Parkinson’s related-novels to line your bookshelves and bedside table HERE and general resource books HERE!

Note: click on the number to be directed to where you can buy the book (amazon.ca) OR check with your local Parkinson’s support group to see what they have in their library!

break a sweat for PD

Athlete at the BC Senior Games

As we get older, our brain shrinks… yep it’s inevitable… all those thoughts, memories and white matter just waste away. White matter is especially important, like the wiring of our brain that is associated with cognitive function and memory.
Especially in PD, preserving brain volume could potentially improve motor and cognitive symptoms and anxiety.
A few recent studies show how exercise can help maintain our brain volume and quality of life
THIS ONE states people who exercised the most also had the least amount of shrinkage and damage to the brain’s white matter
THIS ONE shows treadmill exercise are the most feasible for people with PD, and showed the greatest improvement in gait speed and quality of life.
THIS ONE demonstrates that combining strength exercises with treadmill training may have an even greater impact on walking speed and fitness. (also see it on Parkinson Disease Foundation‘s blog HERE!)

Finally, here is a great chart from the Parkinson society Canada to keep track of your daily exercise patternsHERE
a few more reasons to get out there! much love.

… one of my favourite places to get sweaty? Why, Moksha Yoga, of course!

Favourite things – parkinson’s resource books: general info

1. A new book put out by the American Academy of Neurology. It’s contains up-to-date research and is directed towards all people living with Parkinson’s – including person with PD, caregiver , family members, etc. It focuses on how to discuss your diagnosis, how to ask neurologist questions, ways to relieve burden and improve quality of life … and has a great question and answer section with some really applicable questions.

2. This book is a tried-and-true resource put out by John Hopkins. It has great scientific updates re. genetics and medication, but also provides comprehensive help for day-to-day disease management. It includes some great exercise information and has an extensive description of deep brain stimulation surgery.

3. This book is written by a professional chef so it, naturally, focuses on nutrition. It explains the benefits of anti-oxidant, nutrient-rich ingredients, specific herbs and spices known to favorably impact the brain (curcumin!). All of this “food info” is complementary by her story of navigating Parkinson’s with her husband. A really great book on day-to-day challenges for those with PD and general well-eating for all foodies!

4. This has been my go-to resource on diagnosis, causes, pathophysiology, progression, disease management with an interdisciplinary focus. It is aimed at geriatricians and scientists, but written in a really well-organized and understandable language. There is a chapter on the organization of services and effective management of chronic disease, that emphasizing the importance of staging Parkinson’s disease in terms of diagnosis, maintenance, and complex and palliative care.

There are great resources to start with… what resources have you found beneficial to understanding and navigating Parkinson’s? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. much love.

P.S. in case you missed it, some of my favourite Parkinson’s related-novels to line your bookshelves and bedside table HERE!

Note: click on the number to be directed to where you can buy the book (amazon.ca) OR check with your local Parkinson’s support group to see what they have in their library!

Tutorial – yoga for a better night’s sleep in Parkinson’s – part 2

To follow up the information on sleep difficulties in Parkinson’s HERE… I wanted to introduce some of my favourite bedtime poses… one’s you can even do lying in bed to help relax the bodycalm the mind and prepare for dreaming!

Slide1

1. Reclining Cobblers (Bound Angle) Pose 

Benefits: Stimulates organs like kidneys, heart, and improves circulation. Stretches knees and inner thighs. Relieves symptoms of stress, mild depression.

Contraindications: Groin or knee injury – put cushions under your knees (if not resting on floor) to ease knee pain.

  • Lie flat on your back with the soles of your feet together.
  • Let your knees fall outward *place supports under knees if not resting on ground
  • Release your lower back through your tailbone and widen your pelvis (think of bringing hip points together)
  • Imagine dropping your groin (instead of your knees) to the ground and your groin will naturally open
  • Have your arms out to your sides and palms up to open your chest.

2. Reclining Twist 

Benefits: Improves breathing, back/spine/neck tension, digestion, lower back pain, stress and fatigue.

Contraindications:

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Let your chin settle towards your chest to lengthen the back of your neck
  • Lift your hips and shift them slightly to the left, drawing the tailbone towards the heels
  • Place your right hand on the outside of your left thigh and gently let your knees fall to the right until your right upper thigh hits the floor or a cushion
  • Slide your shoulder blades down your back and extend your left arm out at 90degrees to the left… look towards the left
  • When ready to release, slide your feet along the floor in front of you so you end up gently rolling onto your back.
  • Repeat other side.

3. Happy Baby

Benefits: Calming. Relieves stress and tension in the lower back and spine.

Contraindications: Knee injury, neck injury (*support head with a cushion)

  • Lie flat on your back and bent your knees up onto your belly with the soles of your feet like they are standing on the ceiling
  • Grab the soles of your feet with your hand, or hang onto a strap that is placed across both soles of your feet
  • Open your knees slightly wider than your torso and let them sink
  • Release your tailbone towards the floor and lengthen the back of your neck

try these before bed to take you away into dreamland. much love.

P.S. want another pose that is restorative and relaxing? try legs up the wall!

P.S.S. still feeling sleepy? check out restorative child’s pose, and hotelroom sleepovers!

photo credits: yogajournal, lovemyyoga, pullingdownthemoon