still on jamaican time… mon

hey friends!

… I’ve just come back from a weeklong trip to Jamaica, celebrating a couple friends getting hitched!

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bear with me while I get back to reality this week…

I’ll have some  posts on meditation and neuroscientists coming up! ya mon (jamaican-speak for “much love”)!

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Kripalu Yoga, Exercise and National Parkinson Foundation Retreat

Earlier this week, I talked about my trip to Halifax, the Canadian Gerontology conference and some family visits (recap HERE). Following this, Monday morning, I got up at the crack of dawn (actually, 3:45am), drove to Halifax airport, and took a couple planes to Hartford Conneticut.

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I then got in another rental car, and pulled into Kripalu. Ahhhhh om.

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I spent the week as part of “A Wellness Retreat for People Living with Parkinson’s disease and their Care Partners”, sponsored by the National Parkinson Foundation (their app here!). This is my THIRD time attending this retreat (see previous HERE and HERE) and I felt really honored to be able to deliver a session on how to be an informed exercise participant.

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The session talked about how we move and where this goes wrong in Parkinson’s.

When the higher brain (decision making and planning) decides to move, it sends a signal to motor cortices which send a signal to the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia determines which muscles will participate and the amplitude of their activity… like creating a “recipe” for movement.

This “recipe” gets sent to the premotor (spatial planning, trunk muscles) and supplementary motor areas (coordination of body sides, postural stabilization) and onto the spinal neurons.

Spinal neurons then activate the muscles (bundles of fibres that contract by sliding over each other and create force) … as the “recipe” dicates

So the basal ganglia plays a significant role in “modulating” movement… and this is affected in PD… showing up as weakness, rigidity, fatigue, coordination etc.

AND, the ability to express an idea is limited with Parkinson’s, since it affects the muscles of your larynx, mouth and tongue (spoken words); fingers (written words or “talking with your hands”); or skeletal muscles (body language, dancing, running, building or fighting).

So, how does exercise benefit persons with PD? Well,

(a)   intensive activity maximizes synaptic plasticity;

(b)  complex activities promote greater structural adaptation;

(c)   activities that are rewarding increase dopamine levels and therefore promote learning/relearning;

(d)  dopaminergic neurones are highly responsive to exercise and inactivity (“use it or lose it”);

(e)   where exercise is introduced at an early stage of the disease, progression can be slowed.

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It was a wonderfully full week, with a great group of 71 participants!

We “Let Your Yoga Danced” with Megha, discussed relationship and communication strategies with Kara Barton, resilience with Maria, PD 101 with Dr. David Houghton, the wisdom of yoga with Aruni and “got our yoga on” all week!

Check back next week, where I’ll discuss some specific exercise strategies I discussed in relation to PD pathology and symptoms. Much love.

Gerontologists and family on the East Coast

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks…

I was at the WPC2013 in Montreal, the first week of October, and recently have been on the east coast for a couple conferences.

The Canadian association on gerontology held their annual conference in Halifax… which, is close to family for me! I presented some PDF research on categorizing dementia caregiver stressors across neurodegenerative diseases (AD, PD, MCI, DLB).

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The typology shows that different symptoms, lead to different secondary strains (i.e. memory –> role-strain, motor –> constant vigilance) and this varies with disease. The implications of this are that we cannot provide the same support across all dementia caregivers.

I also did a workshop on Yoga for Parkinson’s disease, with a specific focus on application to this population from a pathological and physiological perspective, as well as some issues around current yoga research.

Aside from both of these, I got to teach early morning yoga classes for those participants who wanted to get some physical activity in before the conference sessions. I had a good group of 12 people both days… you know who you are, way to go! Thanks to Moksha Yoga Halifax, and my dear friend Jo, for letting us use your yoga mats! … and for the delicious breakfast date with your cutie!

After my workshop, I hoped in my car and drove up to Cape Breton Island. Let me tell you, the trees on the east coast are so incredibly beautiful this time of year. It was indescribable. The pictures don’t do it justice.

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I have a “boatload” of family in and around Nova Scotia (that’s what happens when your dad is 1 of 10 siblings!) and was lucky enough to see: 4 Cousin, 7 Aunts or Uncles, and Nanny … the one and only.  All who left me feeling spoiled and full of love … not bad for a 30hour trip to the Island and a 2-hour conference break!

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… and then my adventure continues in the NorthEastern United States. Stay tuned. Much love.

world parkinson congress, here I come!

As you read this, I’ll be landing in Montreal-Trudeau Airport after my redeye from Victoria… I’ll grab a coffee and a catnap and be ready to go!

... from Victoria BC's inner harbour!

If you’re around, stop in and see me… or send me an email, I’d love to meet up!

  • Renewal Room Wed 8-9am Yoga with Renee and myself
  • Renewal Room Wed 415-515pm Yoga with Renee and myself
  • Renewal Room Thurs 8-9am Let Your Yoga Dance (i’ll be assisting Megha!)
  • Poster Session Thurs 11:30-1:30pm #P10.07, room 220C
  • Renewal Room Thurs 5:15-6:15 Let Your Yoga Dance (i’ll be assisting Megha!)

 

I will have a full-update later next week… jusque-la, je serai a la belle ville de montreal, a bientot! beaucoup d’amour.

a yoga/wellness retreat for parkinson’s

This past week I attended “A Wellness Retreat for People Living with Parkinson’s and Their Care Partners“. This retreat was sponsored by the National Parkinson Foundation and hosted by Kripalu, health living program.

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We attended sessions on integrating yoga and meditative practices into your life.

DSC_0312We learned about disease/symptom management, exercise, communication and care planning.

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We practiced yoga together.

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We learned how to integrate some of this knowledge and make sustainable transformation in our lives.

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And we spent as much time as we could exploring the Berkshires (which was very limited by the rain all week!).

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I was so excited to be back and assisting the faculty, thank you to Kripalu and especially NPF for making this happen for me! If you want more information, check out this link or contact NPF. much love.

p.s. read about my Kripalu experiences last year, in Living Your Yoga with Parkinson’s disease!

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Get ready for the World Parkinson Congress

In September 2010, I got on a plane and went to Scotland for the 2nd World Parkinson Congress!

First, I saw a few castles…

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

Then had a wee dram of whisky…

Glengoyne Distillery, Dumgoyne, Killearn  Glasgow

Glengoyne Distillery, Dumgoyne, Killearn Glasgow

And presented some electromyographic data on how the muscles of males and females with Parkinson’s were more active during functional tasks (i.e. grip strength, walking, balance), indicating their muscles have to work harder and they may be more prone to fatigue than age-matched persons without Parkinson’s.

Presenting my poster, WPC Glasgow

Presenting my poster, WPC Glasgow

… and I can’t wait to do it again in October 2013 at the 3rd World Parkinson Congress in MONTREAL, CANADA!

... from Victoria BC's inner harbour!

… from Victoria BC’s inner harbour!

... from West Bay Marina in Victoria!

… from West Bay Marina in Victoria!

 

I’m bringing my passion for Parkinson’s research and my yoga and will SEE YOU in Montreal!

Countdown is on … much love.

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