Teaching Yoga for Parkinson's Disease - Aura Wellness Center

Teaching Yoga for Parkinson’s Disease

yoga teacher trainingBy Faye Martins

Yoga for Parkinson’s Disease groups is growing worldwide. Parkinson’s Disease is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a progressive nervous system disorder that can cause tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with coordination and movement.


Living with Parkinson’s

While several medical treatments are available to manage Parkinson’s symptoms, many patients seek alternative therapies for relief. Yoga has emerged as a therapy that offers numerous benefits to Parkinson’s patients.

Let’s go deep into how yoga can improve the quality of life for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease and provide tips on how to teach yoga safely and effectively. Whether you’re an experienced yoga teacher or simply curious about using yoga as therapy for Parkinson’s disease, read on to learn more!

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that primarily affects movement. It occurs when there is damage to nerve cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra, which produces dopamine. This chemical messenger helps control movement and coordination. As dopamine levels decrease due to cell death, Parkinson’s symptoms emerge.

The usual signs of Parkinson’s disease include tremors or shaking in hands, legs, arms, face, and jaw; stiffness inside the limbs and trunks; slow movements; balance problems; and difficulty with coordination and walking.

While Parkinson’s disease typically develops slowly over several years but can also progress rapidly for some individuals. In addition to motor symptoms, many patients experience non-motor symptoms such as depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, loss of sense of smell (anosmia), constipation, and cognitive impairment.

There is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease currently, but medical treatments are available to manage its symptoms. However, it has been found that complementary therapies like yoga are beneficial for people living with Parkinson’s Disease as it enhances flexibility, balance, muscle endurance, cognitive function, and quality of life overall.


The Benefits of Yoga for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. It causes tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with movement. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, yoga can effectively manage some symptoms.

One of the significant benefits of practicing yoga for Parkinson’s Disease is improved flexibility and balance. Yoga poses promote muscle strength that may have weakened due to the disease, leading to better posture and mobility.

Another benefit of yoga for Parkinson’s patients is stress relief. The slow movements and breathing techniques used in yoga help calm the mind and reduce anxiety, which often accompanies this disease.

Yoga also helps increase body awareness and self-confidence among those who practice it regularly. This newfound confidence allows them to approach their daily activities with more ease.

While Parkinson’s medication relieves motor symptoms but comes with side effects such as drowsiness or nausea, Yoga has no side effects when practiced under guidance, making it a preferred option by many patients looking at long-term management options without medication dependency.

Restorative Yoga for Parkinson’s Disease

Restorative yoga is a gentle and relaxing form of yoga that can be particularly helpful for those with Parkinson’s disease. This type of yoga focuses on holding poses for an extended period, typically using props such as blankets or bolsters to support the body in comfortable positions.

Restorative yoga can help individuals with Parkinson’s disease by reducing stress and promoting relaxation, improving sleep quality, and decreasing anxiety levels. This type of yoga also helps to increase flexibility and range of motion in the joints, which can be especially beneficial for people experiencing stiffness or rigidity due to Parkinson’s.

One famous restorative pose is the supported child’s pose, where the practitioner rests their torso over bolsters or pillows while stretching their arms forward. Another helpful posture is reclined bound angle pose, where the feet are brought together in a diamond shape while lying down with support under the knees.

When teaching restorative yoga to individuals with Parkinson’s disease, it’s vital to use supportive props and modify poses as needed based on each person’s unique abilities and limitations. Incorporating deep breathing exercises or mindfulness practices into your classes may also be helpful.

Restorative yoga provides numerous benefits for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, including stress reduction, increased flexibility, improved sleep quality, and reduced anxiety levels.


Chair Yoga is User Friendly

Chair yoga is a variant of traditional yoga that accommodates individuals with limited mobility or balance issues. It is an excellent way for people with Parkinson’s disease to reap the benefits of yoga without putting extra strain on their bodies.

One reason chair yoga is user-friendly is that it can be done at home, in a studio, or even at work. All you need is a sturdy and comfortable chair, and you are ready.

The poses used in chair yoga help improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion without causing any undue stress on the joints. These gentle movements also aid in reducing stiffness and increasing blood flow throughout the body.

In addition to physical benefits, chair yoga has mental health advantages. The relaxation techniques used during class can reduce stress levels and promote mindfulness.

For those who may be hesitant about trying yoga due to balance concerns or fear of falling – chair yoga provides additional stability while still providing all the benefits that traditional forms offer.

Chair Yoga offers an accessible alternative for people seeking low-impact exercises that benefit their minds and bodies.

Therapeutic Yoga for Parkinson’s Disease

Therapeutic yoga is designed to help individuals with Parkinson’s Disease manage their symptoms. This form of yoga focuses on slow and deliberate movements, deep breathing techniques, and relaxation methods. The practice can help reduce stress and anxiety levels in patients while also improving balance and flexibility.

In therapeutic yoga for Parkinson’s Disease, the focus is on improving motor function. This means the poses are specifically chosen to assist with mobility issues such as stiffness or rigidity. Yoga instructors may use props like blocks or straps to support patients during challenging poses.

One of the key benefits of therapeutic yoga for Parkinson’s is its ability to increase body awareness. Patients learn how their bodies move through space which helps them identify areas they need to work on outside of class sessions.

Breathing exercises are also essential to this type of yoga as they teach patients how to regulate their breathing during stress or anxiety. Improved breathing patterns lead to better oxygenation throughout the body, improving overall health outcomes.

Therapeutic yoga positively impacts quality-of-life measures in Parkinson’s Disease patients by reducing physical discomforts associated with the disease while promoting mental well-being through mindfulness practices.


Yin Yoga for Parkinson’s Disease

Yin yoga is a gentle and slow-paced practice where poses are held for extended periods, usually three to five minutes. This style of yoga allows for deep relaxation and promotes the stimulation of connective tissues in the body.

For Parkinson’s patients, Yin yoga can improve flexibility, balance, and coordination. The extended holds allow for a more excellent range of motion which can improve joint health and alleviate muscle stiffness.

Yin yoga also encourages mindfulness and meditation, which can help manage symptoms such as anxiety and depression commonly associated with Parkinson’s disease. Practicing yin poses while focusing on breathwork helps calm the nervous system, reducing stress levels.

Some recommended poses for Parkinson’s patients practicing Yin include the Sphinx pose (for spinal extension), Butterfly (for hip opening), Child’s Pose (for calming effects), and Legs Up the Wall(for improved circulation).

Incorporating this style of yoga into a care plan for Parkinson’s disease may provide physical and mental benefits beyond traditional treatment methods.

Tips for Teaching Yoga to Parkinson’s Patients

When teaching yoga to Parkinson’s patients, it is essential to remember the unique challenges they may face. Here are some tips for making your class inclusive and accessible:

1. Be patient: Parkinson’s can cause tremors and difficulty with movement, so be prepared to give extra time for transitions between poses.

2. Use clear cues: Ensure your instructions are easy to understand and follow. Consider using visual aids or demonstrating the poses yourself.

3. Modify as needed: Encourage students to modify poses based on their abilities, and offer alternatives if a pose is too challenging.

4. Focus on breath work: Deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress and anxiety, common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

5. Emphasize relaxation: Incorporate restorative or gentle yoga practices into your classes to help alleviate muscle stiffness and tension.

6. Create a supportive environment: Foster a sense of community among your students by encouraging them to support each other during class.

By following these tips, you can create a safe and welcoming space for Parkinson’s patients to practice yoga at any stage of their journey with the disease.


Class Changes Now and in the Future

As a result, more students with chronic conditions are part of Yoga classes and visiting studios. Teachers must be prepared to ensure that these practitioners are served to the greatest extent possible. Special Yoga classes for those with cancer, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s Disease (PD), dementia, and other conditions are now offered at many studios. If you or your studio is preparing to offer such a class, many things can be done to ensure safety and success.

Understanding Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s Disease inhibits dopamine production and affects the smooth movements of muscles. Balance may be compromised, and joint range of motion can be decreased. Additionally, Parkinson’s symptoms can fluctuate, and an asana performed easily one day may be out of reach the next. Here are some tips on teaching Yoga to students with Parkinson’s. Together, we can help increase Yoga training for Parkinson’s Disease.


Room Conditions

The average age of onset for PD is around 55, so most students will be older. Consider whether playing music will be a distraction, as students may have hearing problems or be unable to understand teacher instructions over the sound of the music. Remove area rugs from the studio; they are tripping hazards for Yogis with balance issues.

Try to have seats or benches near the entrance to the room for people to sit down as they remove their shoes. Practicing next to a wall is very helpful for students with PD, as it can give them stability in standing poses and help to get up and down from the mat. Keeping class size small and giving everyone a place next to a wall may be necessary.

During Practice

Avoid static poses held for a long time. Short sequences with plenty of restorative poses work best. Provide plenty of prop support, especially blankets. Yogis with PD may experience chills or be less able to regulate body temperature, so blankets during savasana are essential. Savasana can also be done in a chair if students are not comfortable lying down.


After Practice

Studies of Yoga and PD have shown the effectiveness of Yogic methods in restoring muscle movement and delaying degenerative damage; they also showed the value of a Yoga school as a support for those with the disease. Encourage students to exchange email addresses if they’d like and keep in contact. Consider not scheduling a class to directly follow your Yoga and PD class to allow students to have a clear exit path and time to put on shoes and coats.


Teaching yoga to Parkinson’s disease patients can provide them with a range of benefits, including improved physical and mental health. Whether it’s restorative, chair, therapeutic, or Yin Yoga, each style offers unique advantages for those dealing with the challenges of Parkinson’s.

As a yoga teacher working with PD patients, it is essential to take things slow and be patient as you guide them through their practice. Encourage your students to listen carefully to their bodies and modify poses when necessary. Remember that every individual will experience Parkinson’s differently.

Teaching yoga for Parkinson’s Disease is an incredibly rewarding experience that can transform the lives of both teachers and students alike. By incorporating different styles such as Restorative Yoga or Therapeutic Yoga into our teachings along with tips on how best to approach these sessions we hope this article has been helpful in giving some insights into how you can make a difference in someone’s life who may be struggling with PD.

The goal of many teachers throughout the world – that of making Yoga accessible to everyone has succeeded. Yogic methodology is now considered a normal, beneficial part of an exercise routine, even recommended by doctors and therapists as part of a wellness plan.


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4 thoughts on “Teaching Yoga for Parkinson’s Disease”

  1. Practicing next to a wall is very helpful for students with PD, as it can give them stability in standing poses
    and help getting up and down from the mat. Thanks for posting this useful article.

  2. Short Sequences with plenty of Restorative Poses work best for practitioner with PD. Provide plenty of prop support, especially blankets. Thanks for useful posting.

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