yogadopa @ neuromotion… starting April 3rd!

 

 

 

Exciting news!!

I have partnered with Neuromotion Physiotherapy Victoria and will be offering weekly “Yogadopa” classes for persons with Parkinson’s disease starting Thursday April 3rd from 330-430pm at Neuromotion (531 Yates St. Suite 303 Victoria BC).

 The classes will run for 12-weeks (*no class June 19, last class June 26th) and will cost $150 for the 12 weeks or $15/drop in. All equipment will be provided (yoga mats, blocks, chairs), however, participants are asked to bring a towel with them.

Please call (250.590.7878) or email (neuromotionvictoria@gmail.com) Neuromotion to register and guarantee your spot. Space is limited. Visa, debit, cheque or cash accepted (to Neuromotion) for payment.If necessary, please inquire about parking when registering. If wanting to drop-in, please phone ahead to ensure space is available.

 

see you on the mat! much love.

yogadopa_neuromotion

Applications of Yoga in Parkinson’s disease (Roland, 2014)

It’s published!

FINAL (Roland, 2014)

You can access the FULL article here. It is a systematic review summarizing all the available published research on yoga for Parkinson’s disease (which wasn’t much…).

Preliminary data suggested modest improvements in functional mobility, balance, upper- and lower-limb flexibility, and lower-limb strength. The presented evidence also showed improvements in nonphysical factors, such as mood and sleep.

This is important because improved mobility, balance, and lower-extremity function can reduce the fear of falling and functional declines related to inactivity. Also, upper-body flexibility supports postural stability and daily living activities, such as reaching for items on the top shelf.

While the evidence is limited (meaning there’s not a lot of studies, and the study quality is not high), it does suggest that there are some benefits, both physical and related to well-being, that deserve greater investigation. But we still have a long way to go with respect to quality scientific research supporting the the benefits of yoga…

This article represents my passion in life. I hope to encourage other scientists (and hopefully myself in future projects, if the grant-gods agree!) to examine yoga with the same scientific standards we do other randomized controlled exercise trials, and give scientific backing to all those benefits us yogis feel within us.

I’m so happy to share this with you and would love to hear your thoughts on the evidence presented, or if you have any questions! much love.

victoria yoga conference: a recap

Today, I want to recap some of the amazing experiences I had at the Victoria Yoga Conference. Much love to Carolyne Taylor and the wonderful crew of volunteers who made it all happen!

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my bag packed - conference badge, yogadopa handouts, moleskin, and snacks!

my bag packed – conference badge, yogadopa handouts, moleskin, and snacks!

welcome to the Victoria Yoga Conference!

welcome to the Victoria Yoga Conference!

Friday night started with inspiring stories of extraordinary living!

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I did a great session on shoulder stability from Fiji McAlpine; I learned a new way of approaching the downdog-chaturanga-updog-downdog sequence that requires more strength but less strain on the shoulders and low back (which is always good!!) and a few new shoulder stretches (which I so desperately need!)

I followed that up with deep back bending with Suzanne Faith Slocum Gori … and did some great partner assists that brought my foot to my head in full Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (or one-legged king pigeon… yes!). Some really deep chest opening is a great way to start the day!

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the view from my mat.

My Yogadopa: yoga for people living with Parkinson’s disease session went really well and I had a great diverse group of yoga therapist, yogi with PD, interested yogi, healthcare worker, yoga teacher and caregiver. We did a general overview of Parkinson’s, some of the symptoms and specific yoga poses that can address the rigidity, bradykinesia, weakness, asymmetry and fatigue.

Rachel Scott did an amazing job of summarizing a trillion years (ok, I exaggerate!) of yoga history in 75-minutes… I can really geek out on vedic history, the upanishads and the bhagavad gita. And Madhuri offered a wonderfully grounding Ayuvedic yoga practice for the winter (vata) season.

setting up to release our psoas.

setting up to release our psoas.

I learned a lot about releasing the psoas from Jules Payne (Ajna yoga) and that by keeping our hip flexors/groin relaxed and “supple”, we increase parasympathetic activation and reducing our stress response. It felt so good to work on relaxing the front of our hips (modern stressors – i.e. sitting, driving keeps them so tight!) through some great releases (slow-mo ball rolling with our pelvis and spiky ball rolling of our feet – amazing!), box squats and alternate limb super mans (to build gluteus max) and legs-up-the-wall pose with some resistance.  This is one session I may have to blog about more… because who doesn’t love the psoas?!

Finally, Ryan Leier (from One Yoga) led a morning Ashtanga class with a twist … and offered some great teachings from P. Jois – reminding us that our physical practice needs to be grounded in the yoga sutras, yamas (right/ethical livings), niyamas (restraints/observances) and breath.

yogis setting up for the morning "ashtanga with a twist"

yogis setting up for the morning “ashtanga with a twist”

It was an incredibly FULL weekend, in all senses of the word. Much gratitude to the yoga community in Victoria (and those yogis who travelled to be here). much love.

Also, see CHEK news coverage  of the conference (and a mention of my workshop at 00:45!)

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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kripalu-labyrinth

 

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.

the power of a chair

Utkatasana or chair pose

Aging is accompanied by a natural decline in muscle tone and bone density that contributes to decreased mobility, stability, strength and endurance. Maintaining this functional capacity helps retain the ability to perform daily tasks with ease, such as getting up from a chair.

Parkinson’s disease affects a person’s ability to move, and focusing on exercise helps to keep muscles strong and to improve flexibility and mobility. Yoga can improve balance, help overcome gait problems and strengthen muscles used in day-to-day movements.

Utkatasana, or chair pose, is a strong, grounding standing posture that helps strengthen the legs, core and back muscles. Utkatasana means ‘powerful pose’ and requires a balance of opposites in the upper (lightness) and lower (grounding) body.

Benefits: 

  • Strengthen the supporting muscles of the major joints, such as the shoulders, hips, knees, arches of your feet and ankles (especially integrity in the Achilles tendon)
  • Develop core strength
  • Strengthen the quads (which supports our vulnerable knee joints!) and glutes
  • Help protect the knee joint by building stability
  • Build heat in the body
  • Open shoulders and chest
  • Improve breathing by opening the chest and intercostals (rib)

Contraindications:

  • Knee problems can start using the wall for support
  • Severe back problems
  • Recent ankle surgery
  • Especially in PD, certain associated medication can cause low blood pressure and associated light-headedness. Move slowly when getting into a standing posture.

How:

  • From  Tadasana (see last mondays post), with your feet hip-width apart (for stability), spread your toes and feel the earth with the ball of your big toe, baby toe and heel.
  • Inhale and engage your core by drawing your navel in and up, exhale a tall spine stacking your shoulders over your hips
  • Inhale draw your arms up to shoulder height and on your exhale draw your sitting bones back and down like you are sitting in an imaginary chair.
  • Use the forward reach of your arms to counterbalance the backwards sitting motion
  • Inhale ground firmly through your heels and exhale sit back another inch, ensuring your shoulders reach towards to hips (engaging serratus anterior muscles)
  • Re-engage your core and draw your tail bone down (to avoid compression in the lower spine), lengthen the whole spine upwards
  • To take it further, inhale to ground and exhale lift your arms above your head, keeping your chest open and heart lifted
  • You can further deepen the posture by releasing the heads of the thigh bones toward the heels. Bring your hands to your tops thighs. Nestle the bases of your palms into the creases of the groins and push the heads of thighs toward the heels, digging the heels deep into the floor. The lift the sitting bones up into the pelvis.
  • Take a few more breath, inhaling to root down through your feet and exhaling to extend your fingertips towards to sky

Take time to explore this pose, it’s a movement we use so often during the day and building and retaining strength in these muscles are crucial for maintaining independence in our daily activities. For modifications, try it against a wall, have the back of a chair in front of you to hold on to for balance, or have the chair behind you and try to hold this position about 1-inch off the chair seat before sitting down.

So, have a seat! much love.

new beginnings

Tomorrow is the start to my series, Yoga for Parkinson’s disease at Moksha Yoga Kelowna (website). This has been something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now, and am so happy to see it come into fruition. I am grateful for all the guidance along the way and the support of MYK in getting this started. In honour of this new endeavour, I will be posting yoga tips/tricks for people with PD (and those without!) every monday (in addition to continue sharing other thoughts/stories/ideas!) to help reach out to those who need it… so keep reading because you never know when you’ll need a little yoga in your life 😉

 

much love.

To start, a great news-story about how yoga is helping people with PD in Colorado (2009).

sunshine and new opportunities

so, as you probably noticed, i’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. i’ve been feeling the stresses of “end-of-year”, namely trying to cross the last things of my to-do list and tie up any other loose ends.

i’m looking forward to 2012 and all it’s potential; however i’m especially looking forward to this!

this is something i’ve had in the works for a long time now, and collaborating with Moksha Yoga Kelowna has finally made it happen!

… in the meantime, i’ll be hanging out here!

RIU Santa Fe, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico ... amazing, right?

Much love to you and yours this holiday – see you in the new year! xo