living your yoga with Parkinson’s disease

I had an inspiring experience June 4-9 at a Wellness Retreat for People with Parkinson’s disease and their Care Partners at the Kripalu Centre for Yoga & Health, located in the beautiful Berkshires, Massachusetts.

the Kripalu view

A couple years ago, I did my Yoga Teacher Training through a Kripalu affiliate studio in Kelowna BC (http://www.trinityyogacenter.com/), so it felt almost like a homecoming for me to be at the Kripalu Centre.

I was at Kripalu to help with a retreat for People with Parkinson’s disease and their Care Partners. We had 57 people registered for the week! We participated in lectures held by physicians, yogis, nutritionists, nurses etc. There were also some great in-depth discussion groups, a delicious cooking-demo. Finally we had lots of opportunity to be in our bodies with yoga, tai chi and dance classes! It was a jam packed week!

Here are some things that I want to share as “take home messages” from the week…

1. lean into JOY! make decisions in order to increase the amount of joy in your life.

2. be RESILIENT. resilient people know that have control over themselves in the present moment. However, everyone needs a “choir” full of people to truly be there for you (like a circle of support). Who is in that choir for you?

3.conscious COMMUNICATION. speak and be heard, mindfully; but mostly, lean into listening. have intentional conversations.

4. caregivers should think of themselves as a SMALL BUSINESS. For example, caregivers need to have a board of directors (i.e., circle of support, choir), hold regular meetings, have a mission statement, take scheduled/regular time off to allow respite, recreation, and relaxation!

5. “what do you do to procrastinate?” honour those things that keep us back, acknowledge them, then move forward.

6. move from your CORE. whether it be your physical core (spine, abdominals), or emotional core (follow your heart!). this will keep you balanced (literally, between both feet) and help you lean into joy.

at the end of the week, participants chose ONE thing to bring home with them… “when I go home, I will…“. to sustain this change and those experienced during the week, we were encouraged to:

a) be AUTHENTIC (i.e., change needs to be true to you)

b) give yourself permission to be FULLY HUMAN (i.e. ups and downs, have self-compassion)

c) take it ONE STEP AT A TIME (i.e. doing and integrating one thing opens yourself up to other positive changes)

d) start IMMEDIATELY (i.e integrate the change right away!)

e) take it ONE DAY AT A TIME (*remember; resilient people are in control of themselves in the PRESENT moment).

Lord Ganesh, the remover of obstacles.

If you are interested in being involved in the next session you can find out more information here: http://kripalu.org/healthy_living/806/… hope to see you there!

 I’m so grateful to the National Parkinson Foundation, Kripalu, and the amazing participants for being involved in this inspiring week, uniting movement-mind-breath for wellness in persons living with Parkinson’s disease.

jai bhagwan, namaste.

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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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