Our support group, Inspired Women with Parkinson’s in Los Angeles, met last Sunday with yoga therapist extraordinaire, Colleen Carroll.
We began the meeting with each person naming one challenge she has because of Parkinson’s. The two most common challenges were deteriorating handwriting and sleep issues. It seemed that handwriting was much more important than lack of sleep to almost everyone. What are some of the challenges facing you as a Person with Parkinson’s? Take the poll below.
According to Colleen, yoga as therapy is a new phenomenon, beginning abut 30 years ago with Mr. TKV Desikachar. To illustrate that the breath is the fundamental element in yoga, Colleen quotes Mr. Desikachar: “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.” It is the art of synchronizing breath and movement. When the nervous system starts to get unified, balanced and brought together, we start to behave, breathe and move in a harmonious way. Beginning with the breath, the goal of yoga is to calm the activity of the mind. This mental focus gives you the ability to command the pace of your thoughts and the quality of your thinking and to direct the mind in a single-pointed way. What happens over time is that we replace the multi-level activities in the brain with a calmer sequence of thoughts.
Colleen has a new DVD coming out in the next few weeks called NeuroTherapeutic Yoga, specifically for people with Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders. There are three breath-based sequences; a floor sequence that can be done on the bed if you cannot get on the floor, a standing sequence using the chair if needed, and a chair sequence. All can be modified to fit your needs. You can play all the way through it or choose just one section.
After Colleen’s introduction to yoga therapy, we took our chairs and yoga mats and spent a wonderful hour practicing yoga. We ended with viparita karanii (legs on a chair), listening to Colleen’s soothing voice leading us through a meditation. Everyone left refreshed and much calmer. Thank you Colleen.