Yoga for Parkinson’s in Pandemic Times

If you can breathe, you can do yoga

Christiana Lewis, yoga instructor for People with Parkinson’s

There are many benefits to Yoga for People with Parkinson’s (PwPs), whether you are a just starting or have been practicing for years. I started my yoga practice about 12 years ago, before my diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease. I give much credit to my yoga practice for helping me to minimize my PD symptoms.

5 benefits from a yoga practice

According to my Movement Disorders Specialist, who is also a certified yoga instructor, there are 5 primary benefits to practicing yoga for PwPs. I am listing them here, along with my commentary on each of them.

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Downward Dog

1. Stretching – helps to combat the stiffness that many PwP’s feel, making movement easier and increases your flexibility. If you are stiff when you wake up, do some of the stretching poses before you even get out of bed. It definitely helps.

2. Balance – many poses in yoga are balance poses. You will stand on one foot for a tree pose, then the other. You learn what you have to do to maintain that posture, even if for a few seconds. Look around you if you are in a class and you will see that others without PD have trouble with balance. You are not alone. This is the most important thing you can do to help prevent falls later.

Chaturanga Dandasana - Wikiwand
Chaturanga Dandasana

3. Social – if you go to a class (when the gyms re-open), you will find that there is a social aspect to yoga as you get to know other regulars in your class. It gets you out of the house and combats isolation.

4. Mood/Apathy – it doesn’t matter how I feel when I start the class. By the end of the class I feel so much better, mentally and physically. Maybe it is a dopamine rush or endorphin rush. It doesn’t matter which one it is, it works to elevate your mood and keep you going. In addition, it is a mindfulness practice. There are often guided meditations, breathing exercises and of course, the final pose, Shavasana, which is so relaxing.

Vriksasana - Wikipedia
Tree Pose

5. Cardio – I like Vinyasa Flow classes because you are continuously moving. The long holds of poses in other types of yoga don’t work for me because my tremor acts up. With flow classes, the breath is very important, affecting your autonomic systems. In addition, there are definitely cardio benefits as your heart rate rises with the constant movement. Another benefit of the movement is that shifting from pose to pose, such as going from a Down Dog to Chaturanga to Up dog is great resistance training – as you flow through the moves you are shifting your weight from your legs to your arms and back. If you are doing yoga at home, don’t watch the same yoga class over and over again because it becomes rote. Close your eyes or change some of the poses to challenge your mind.

I have been fortunate that I have been able to keep going to regular yoga classes and can keep up most of the time. Shortly after my diagnosis with PD, I met with a woman who specializes in yoga therapy for Parkinson’s. After working with me, she said something I will never forget: “Stay in regular yoga classes as long as you can. You can always modify your practice if things get difficult.”

If you have been practicing yoga, you will find that there are so many classes to choose from on-line through Zoom, you don’t have to wait until the gym re-opens. However, if you are new to yoga, you may want to take a few private classes in your home or online with a yoga instructor so that you can learn what to do properly, with supervision. The last thing you want to do is to hurt yourself because you don’t know what to do. There are also yoga classes specifically for people with Parkinson’s. These classes often offer chair yoga for those who cannot stand or have balance issues.

Shavasana – Corpse Pose – School of Yoga
Shavasana – my favorite pose of all!

A few weeks ago, yogi Christiana Lewis led Twitchy Women through a yoga practice on Zoom. Here is the recording from that day. Watch it and learn even more about how you can incorporate yoga into your exercise routine for Parkinson’s Disease.

Namaste

Endgame Parkinson’s

Last week I received a mysterious message from Larry Gifford, host of the podcast “When Life Gives You Parkinson’s”. Would I like to join him, along with other luminaries in the Parkinson’s world plotting the ENDGAME for Parkinson’s. This global alliance of advocates have pledged to take united actions towards ending Parkinson’s and they need me to join them.

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Inspired by the recently published book, Ending Parkinson’s Disease: A Prescription for Action, a group of advocates have pledged to work with the authors of the book by creating PD Avengers.

He went on to say that I was identified as an advocate who is ready activate my personal super powers to aid in uniting 50 million voices to prove Parkinson’s matters and build a real urgency to end Parkinson’s. The group is targeting leaders in the PD space to join forces with them prior to going fully public around World Brain Day on July 22, 2020. At that time, we’ll begin more public recruiting efforts.

So Larry, you really know how to get people to join your mission. You had me at activating my personal super powers. Wow! Does that come with an iconic costume? I think Wonder Woman’s tiara would be nice, along with those cool wrist bracelets. Talk about having super powers.

Warnerbros.com

Last Monday, there was a Zoom meeting with a number of recruits waiting to be admitted into this “super power” group. We learned that the ultimate goal is to unite 50 million voices to prove Parkinson’s matters and build a real urgency to end Parkinson’s. We were an important part of making this happen, by reaching out to our networks and inviting People with Parkinson’s (PwP’s) and their families and friends who are impacted by Parkinson’s. After all, there are only about 10 million PwP’s now, but if each of us invites 4 other people, we will be a force to be reckoned with. We need our number of advocates we can build urgency for prevention and a cure, much as the AIDs community did in the 1980’s-1990’s.

So this is where all of you come in. Go to their Facebook Page PD Avengers and sign on to this very important mission. All of the information is there. I am giving you just their Vision and their Mission here:

  • We are inspired by and work in partnership with the authors of the book “Ending Parkinson’s Disease.”
  • OUR VISION (Longest Term Goal): Ending Parkinson’s.
  • OUR MISSION (3 to 5 Years Goal): Unite 50 million voices to prove Parkinson’s matters and to build a sense of real urgency to end Parkinson’s.

Join me and SIGN UP to bring your super power to #EndingPD #WBD2020 https://www.pdavengers.com/get-involved 

Together we CAN make a difference in the lives of those with PD today and in the future.

Gratitude during the Pandemic

Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

Anonymous

It seems like an oxymoron. How can we have gratitude while quarantined because of the Covid Pandemic? Our lives are disrupted in so many ways. What good can come of it?

I took a yoga class the other day with a yoga instructor who talked a lot about gratitude during our practice. Throughout the session, she reminded us to think of something we were grateful for. And to put a smile on our face. When you smile, you can’t help but feel better.

It turns out that once you start thinking about it, there are a lot of positive things that have happened to each of us during the past 4 months. For some people, it meant getting to those tasks that were saved for a rainy day. Others took classes on line that they did not have the time for previously. And then there are those who started baking bread and other goodies during this time. Suddenly we had an abundance of time to do all of those things at home that we wanted to do for so long.

After the yoga class, I went to my sketchbook journal and started writing. By then it wasn’t too hard to find gratitude for many things in my life.

July 8, Day 126 for Mr. Twitchy and me. We started the quarantine early because we were exposed March 1.

4 1/2 months we have lost Time that will never be returned. Has anything good come out of it?

1. Connecting with our grandchildren in Chicago more often, in a more meaningful way – reading to them, playing games with them. And the same for our grandchildren in Los Angeles.

2. Brought together over 160 women from at least 4 countries for Sunday Mornings with Twitchy Women since March 22. Everything has fallen into place so quickly and I have met so many impressive women in the process.

bluelahe - Bullet Journal uploaded by Karen Naomi

3. Learning to play golf – getting out with Mr. Twitchy 2 afternoons a week in the sunshine (getting that much needed Vitamin D)

Looking back in my journal, there were many more expressions of gratitude throughout the 4 1/2 months.

Just 2 weeks ago, I wrote about “a remarkable couple of days” after being nominated in 3 categories (now 5) for the WEGO Health awards and being named one of 9 for Healthline’s Best in Blog 2020, with only 3 being patient bloggers. Yet the entry before that was about the marches and riots, constant helicopters overhead and anarchy in Seattle. Even that entry managed to find gratitude for talking to friends on the phone & Zoom, lifting of some more Quarantine restrictions, etc.

Smiley — Stock Photo © aldorado #13975132

Now I understand why journaling is so important, especially if you have a chronic disease. Keeping a journal captures moments of your life and gives you insight into what has changed over time. It also allows you to see what has been good and what has not been so good, even on the same day. I don’t write every day. Sometimes a couple of weeks will go by, but I am still telling my story. It will always be there for me to go back to when I need it. I will be reminded of what to be grateful for, in spite of everything, and to smile.

If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.

Rabbi Harold Kushner

When Life Gives You Cucumbers and Tomatoes

…and banana bread, chocolate chip cookies and sour dough bread.

It seems that the Coronavirus has given everyone a green thumb this year. Quarantined at home, we all channeled our inner gardeners and planted some vegetables and herbs in our back yards, on our patios, balconies, and in pots anywhere there is some sun. Many of us have also turned to our kitchens thinking we are master chefs and bakers, the end result being Covid-15. What is Covid-15 you ask? It is the 15 pounds people have gained while being quarantined for 3-4 months with nothing to do but garden, bake and eat what they have created.

Here in Southern California, we typically plant veggies in March, as our rainy season is ending. I have had varying success with my vegetable gardens, but this year is different. We planted early, and our rainy season was late, sprinkling our newly planted veggies through the end of April. They thrived and we now have an abundance of tomatoes and cucumbers this year. Last year, every one one of my tomatoes, except the cherry tomatoes, was eaten by birds or other animals.

The shiny CD is keeping the birds away!

What made the difference this time? A friend in Tucson posted several months ago that she hung CD’s from her pomegranate trees to keep the birds away and it worked. Mr. Twitchy had just cleaned out his CD collection the first two weeks of quarantine so I rescued the discards and put hung them on the tomato plants. Beatles, Beach Boys, you name the band, they are now protecting my tomatoes. And it is working!

The result is an abundance of tomatoes, large and small and endless Persian cucumbers. Now the big question is – what to do with all of this????? I have made fresh uncooked tomato sauce, tomato soup, pasta salad with grilled vegetable ratatouille and more. I am in the kitchen hours at a time trying to make something different with the tomatoes. I think I have used every cookbook, appliance and pot that I own in the last few weeks. Some days my kitchen looks like it had been bombed with tomatoes.

Audrey the man-eating cucumber vine

And then there are the cucumbers. I ordered 2 cucumber plants. When I picked them up I saw that the 2 pots had a total of 5 plants. Do you have any idea how many families can be fed by 5 cucumber vines? The raised bed where I planted them looks like Audrey, the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors. They are out of control.

When I asked my daughter if she wanted any, she suggested that I make quick refrigerator pickles with them. She had the same abundance problem and could not take any of mine. So I looked up quick refrigerator pickles and now I am in the pickle business.

Seriously, the pickles are a big hit. And nothing beats a fresh picked tomato in a summer salad. Have a wonderful 4th of July.

WEGO Health Awards

Last year, a surprise nomination led to Twitchy Woman being a finalist for WEGO’s Best in Blog award. Nominations and endorsements are now open for the 2020 WEGO Health Awards. I have been nominated for 3! If you agree and would like to support me please go to this link and endorse/nominate me. Thank you for all of your support of my blog over the last 6 years. I hope we will continue together on this journey with Parkinson’s for many more years to come.

The Other Side of Self-Care: Feeling Worn Out

Originally published by Parkinsonsdisease.net
By Sharon Krischer · June 19, 2020

Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place. -Unknown

I met with my movement disorders specialist recently, and she asked me if I thought that we, people with Parkinson’s (PwPs), are spending too much time on self-care at the expense of everything else. It is a valid question that I admit I have also thought about. Many PwPs will say that they are not defined by our Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, these same people spend an awful lot of time just taking care of themselves to help manage their disease. And I am one of them. I often say that since my PD diagnosis, I spend more time taking care of myself than anything else. And I often feel worn out.

Read the rest of the story at Parkinsonsdisease.net

Sunday Mornings with Twitchy Women

This Sunday, June 28 at 10:00 am Pacific Time, Movement Disorders Specialist, Indu Subramanian, MD, will be joining us to talk about Living well with PD in Covid-19 era, including the importance of social connections, mindfulness and yoga to alleviate some of the stress we are all feeling during this unsettling time. Click here to see her recent talk on PMD Alliance with Dr. Ray Chaudhuri

To register for this meeting, click here

These programs are for Women with Parkinson’s Disease. To maintain privacy for this group, we ask that care-partners and family members not attend unless an event states that registration is open to all. If you have any questions, please contact twitchywoman18@gmail.com.

Healthline Best Parkinson’s Blogs

This week I was honored once again by Healthline to be on their list of Best Parkinson’s Blogs of 2020