UPCOMING Parkinson’s yoga workshop: July 14th

… don’t forget Victoria Parkinson’s Yogi’s, THIS SUNDAY is my next yoga for Parkinson’s workshop!

Join me as we work on postural stability and balance

at MokSana Yoga Studio (#500-3 Fan Tan Alley)

July 14th from 1:30-3:30pm.


contact me at: kaitlyn.p.roland@gmail.com or 250.589.2046

**For the rest of the months of July and August, check out my weekly blog posts (Wednesdays) reviewing some of favourite summer books … on yoga, nutrition, dharma, neurodegenerative diseases, etc.

Happy Summer Reading! much love.

Tutorial: Nah-dee-show-DAH-nah

Nadi (=”channel”) Shodhana (= “cleaning” “purifying”) Pranayama is an alternate-nostril breathing exercise.


The right hand is placed in Mrigi Mudra (a Sanskrit word meaning “to seal, close, or lock up” or “gesture”) by pressing your hand into a fist with your index and middle fingers firmly into the base of your thumb. Stretch out the ring and pinky fingers. Keep your pinky relatively straight, but curl your ring finger slightly; the idea is to “blend” the two fingertips into one.


  1. Gently close your right nostril with your thumb
  2. Inhale through your left nostril
  3. Close left nostril with your ring-little fingers
  4. Open right nostril and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
  5. Inhale right nostril
  6. Repeat step 1. This is one cycle.
  7. Repeat 3 to 5 times, then release the hand mudra and go back to normal breathing.

Benefits include lowered heart rate, reduction in stress and anxiety. This breath is also said to synchronize the two hemispheres of the brain (oh so beneficial for Parkinson’s disease!) and encourage prana (life force energy) flow.

This breathing exercise is great for quieting your mind before beginning a meditation session, and it is also a soothing practice for calming racing thoughts and anxiety if you are having trouble falling asleep.


Try it to feel more balanced and calm. much love.

PS. Want more yoga tips for a better sleep? Check out Yoga for Sleep I and Yoga for Sleep II

Gait, Balance and Falls – PDF expert briefing

On Tuesday I took part in Parkinson’s Disease Foundation expert briefing on Gait, Balance and Falls in Parkinson’s disease.

1. Gait (walking) problems in Parkinson’s:

  • Slow walking, difficult to keep up with people in the community
  • Short, shuffling steps (step length gets smaller)
  • Foot drags or catch (uneven surface i.e. sidewalk, rug)
  • Arms swing less (one side more than other)
  • Initiating walking
  • Difficulty changing directions
  • “hypokinesia” in parkinson’s – SMALL movements (handwriting, steps, armswing) … translates to small, shuffling steps in PD
  • freezing (i.e., difficulty initiating walking (getting going), and turning “feet glued to floor”)
  • weakness due to lack of message from brain to muscles (driving muscles, especially extensors) … contributes to small movements, slowness
  • rigidity causes reduced mobility in joints (stiffness) *spine, hips … limits your ability to stand up straight (read more about posture HERE)

What does this mean?

Well, greater trouble with walking means emerging disability (Shulman Movement Disorders 2010; 25(1) S131-135)

Thus, we want to ID walking problems as soon as possible to prevent onset of disability over time.

By improving walking ability in Parkinson’s we can :

  • slow progression of disability
  • keep people active, improve speed
  • increase size of movements (steps, armswing), turning ability

But, how do we do this?

  • Practicing walking can improve walking
  • Cueing replaces internal cueing mechanism (loss of automatic abilities due to dopamine decline) with external cues (metronome, music/beat/tempo, flashing light, vibration) to initiate gait  (Nieuwboer, 2007)

Examples of cueing training include:

  • Metronome/music improves coordination, timing, speed and efficiency
  • Pedometer to monitor steps (give you feedback on your progress and helps with goal setting)

2. Fall in Parkinson’s

  • 80% of falls in Parkinson’s occur at home during walking, standing and/or transferring (i.e., from sitting to standing)

What to do about falls?

  • Be active & stay active … reduce disability and optimize independence and quality of life!
  • Go to physical rehabilitation EARLY and throughout the disease  progression (it’s also never too late to start a walking/balance program!)
  • Seek of a Parkinson’s-specific physical therapist …  like Parkinson Wellness Recovery (PWR!) clinician training with Dr. Becky Farley PhD MS PT
  • Walk more! Do this by setting goals (use a pedometer to keep track) and use music/tempo
  • Start a balance & strengthening program *try chair pose (see HERE), which targets strength, balance and transfers!
  • Reduce your fall-risk by :widening base of support (especially when picking things up), stop multi-tasking, reduce the clutter in your home,  and keep journal to identify fall patterns

try CHAIR POSE for balance, strength and transfers! (www.satyaliveyoga.com.au)

If you are interested, the full presentation slides are available HERE: PDF Expert Briefing Slides. Go get moving and bring some balance into your life. much love.

PS. Want more expert briefings? Check out Coping skills for Parkinson’s care partners !

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.


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


my second Yoga for Parkinson’s session is coming to a close, and am I ever going to miss those ladies! I’ve had such a wonderful time with them, watching them move with more grace, balance, and awareness as the weeks went on- so inspiring.


some things that have stuck with me along the way…

  1. for some, there is a greater struggle between effort and ease. People with Parkinson’s who are rigid, masked, tremor, or dyskinetic spend so much time in “effort”, not willingly but because of the disease. So to see even the slightest bit of ease (i.e. jaw, forehead) and relaxation (i.e. relax shoulders down back) is truly amazing … a little savasana goes a long way (and this goes for everyone)!
  2. sometimes it doesn’t matter what you are doing (i.e., asana, work, etc.), but who you are doing it with (i.e., community, “sangha”). maybe the best thing you get out of your yoga practice is to connect with others who are walking the same path as you, whatever your path is i.e. yoga, Parkinson’s, parenthood, loss etc.
  3. gracefulness (in every sense of the word) happens when you least expect it, so let go of any expectations and be fully present in to the moment!
  4. it’s all yoga, baby! no matter whether you’re trying to hold warrior I, climb a stair, or stay focused on a difficult task at hand. By being mindful and approaching it with breath and awareness means it’s all yoga to me!

so even though this chapter is over for now, there’s always new opportunities… like being involved in Kripalu’s A Wellness Retreat for People with Parkinson’s and Their Care Partners. I think this will be a source of support and strength for so many people with Parkinson’s, and am so grateful to be able to volunteer and support the staff and facility offering this in June! http://kripalu.org/healthy_living/806/

“My experience at the Kripalu Retreat was life-altering. I was newly diagnosed with PD and had many questions. During the week, I learned everything I needed to know, from the importance of exercise to the benefits of medication to helpful advice on lifestyle adjustments to information on current research and studies…Mainly, it was wonderful to spend the week with my two daughters and for the three of us to be a part of a positive, healing community in such a beautiful setting. Since my return, I practice daily some aspect of the newly gained knowledge and advice. Thanks to Kripalu and the National Parkinson Foundation staff for being so accessible to us and providing this opportunity. It was GREAT!”
—Emily S.

much love to everyone walking your own path.