Thursday, February 29, 2024
HomeExclusiveIs Yoga Good For Parkinson's Disease

Is Yoga Good For Parkinson’s Disease

According To The American Parkinson Disease Association Yoga Therapy Has Been Shown To Visibly Reduce Tremors And Improve Steadiness In Parkinson’s Patients

New Delhi: Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder. This disorder affects movement. Symptoms of the disease are tremors, stiffness or slowing of movement. While the symptoms start gradually, they can get serious with time. In the beginning, your face may not show expressions, arms not swing when you walk and your speech may become slurred. With time, these symptoms may get worse.

This year, World Parkinson’s Day is being celebrated on 11th April 2019 to spread awareness about Parkinson’s and make it easier for people with Parkinson’s to be understood. Living with a disease like Parkinson’s can be difficult, and any measures to cope with it can be beneficial. The disease cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be controlled and managed. Yoga is a great way to do so.

According to the American Parkinson Disease Association , yoga therapy has been shown to visibly reduce tremors and improve steadiness in Parkinson’s patients. Another recent study has found that people with Parkinson’s disease experience less anxiety and depression if they practise yoga focused on mindfulness and breathing exercises. Here are 4 yoga exercises or poses that patients of Parkinson’s can try to manage their symptoms better.

When Did You First Learn About The Benefits Of Yoga For Parkinsons Disease Symptoms

I have culturally been interested in Ayurveda, a holistic medicine system, for a long time. As a child, I grew up with many practices that were in this system of health – even though my mother is a western trained family medicine doctor. Yoga fits into this system, which has been around for thousands of years and focuses on thinking about a person or patient in a holistic way. After the birth of my first child, I gravitated toward yoga to help my own sense of balance and wellbeing.

There are a lot of folks doing yoga here in California, US, and I see the benefits in my patients as well. As a physician who works largely with men who are veterans, it always amazes me to see the most seemingly unlikely patients thrive with yoga. A Latinx plumber in my practice really enjoyed yoga and looked better, both physically and mentally, after diving into his practice – which he started after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Indu Subramanian has practiced yoga for two decades.

Mindfulness Yoga Makes A Bigger Difference In Your Mental Health And Happiness

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong just discovered that mindfulness yoga may have some benefits for people with Parkinson’s that other forms of exercise don’t.

Their study included 138 people with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease. They had some of these people participate in a mindfulness yoga program for eight weeks and others participate in a stretching and resistance training exercise program for eight weeks. Here’s what happened…

Both programs improved motor dysfunction and mobility, but the yoga program made five additional improvements:

  • Anxiety
  • How much they felt they were suffering
  • How mentally calm and composed they felt
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Now, these are substantial benefits. Because, no matter how well you’re doing physically with your disease, if you’re not coping well with your disease mentally, your life’s going to be miserable. Period.

    How To Get Your Body And Mind Back In Balance After A Parkinsons Diagnosis


    When your doctor delivers the news that you have Parkinson’s, it can be hard to get your bearings.

    You knew things weren’t looking good. Your hand shakes every time you pick up a cup of coffee. And your walks with your dog are becoming slower and stiffer by the day.

    But now that you’re officially diagnosed with a progressive nervous system disorder that affects your movement, what do you do?

    Do you move more? Less? How do you keep yourself as healthy, mobile and happy as possible?

    Figuring out how exercise fits into your life after a Parkinson’s diagnosis is tricky. Your body’s revolting against you, which makes exercising uncomfortable. It’s tempting to toss your Nikes in a bag for Goodwill and call it a day.

    But that would be the biggest mistake a person with Parkinson’s could make. Why?

    Because research shows that regular exercise slows the progression of Parkinson’s and helps you maintain your quality of life. So, you absolutely, positively must exercise.

    But now that that’s settled, you probably have another question… what type of exercise is best for people with Parkinson’s?

    Well, any exercise will help. But a new study shows that if you really want the biggest benefits, you should dedicate yourself to daily downward dogs.

    Physical Mental Benefits Of Yoga And Meditation Include Mood Memory Sleep

    What Exercise Is Good For Parkinson Disease

    Yoga is credited with providing a variety of physical and mental benefits, such as increased flexibility and stability and reduced stress, improved mood, and better sleep. But how can yoga help Parkinson’s disease patients and individuals with other neurodegenerative diseases?

    The American Parkinson Disease Association recommends yoga therapy as a means to strengthen muscle, improve posture and stability, loosen tight, painful muscles and relieve muscle spasms.

    Benefits of yoga and meditation to an individual’s mental and cognitive functions have been explored in a number of recent scientific studies. Research suggests meditation practice can change brain structure and function in areas of the brain impacted by PD and contribute to improved memory, cognition and mood. The hope is that incorporating meditation practices can help support and maintain an individual’s brain function for as long as possible as the neurodegenerative disease progresses.

    Yoga Can Relieve Stress And Prevent Cognitive Decline In Parkinsons

    The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are known to worsen with stress. These stressful conditions may involve an increase in excessive free oxygen radicals and inflammatory mediators.

    Cognitive decline with the progression of Parkinson’s disease is another major concern for the patients.

    Cognitive decline results in an inability to concentrate and perform daily tasks.

    A study published in Biological Psychology,2016 described the benefits of an 8 week Hatha Yoga program for elderly individuals.

    Hatha Yoga is a traditional form of yoga that comprises different postural and breathing exercises as well as meditation to bring peace to the mind and body.

    The participants showed improvement in executive functions, cortisol levels and enhanced cognitive performance.

    Yogic practice attenuated stress and enhanced memory performance in the older adults.

    Elderly individuals practising yoga show significant improvement in the ability to recall visual and verbal memories, attention, functions and processing speed as compared to the control group .

    Findings from a research study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 2015 suggest the potential of yoga as an effective treatment strategy for preventing the risk of neurological disorders in the ageing population.

    Yogic practices involving postural and breathing exercises and meditation specifically affects the brain waves and may bring about structural changes.

    How Can People With Parkinsons Add Yoga Into Their Exercise Regime

    Yoga can be incorporated a few days a week, with other more cardio-heavy regimens such as running, fast walking or cycling. It can be very restorative for muscles on days in between heavier cardio workouts.

    There are many styles that may benefit people with Parkinson’s disease. Hatha yoga and Iyengar yoga, which uses a lot of props and modifications, are good places to start. For people interested in starting yoga, particularly through social distancing restrictions, I recommend Mind Body Solutions with Matthew Sanford.

    Yoga Visibly Reduces Tremors And Improves The Steadiness Of Gait

    According to the National Institutes of Health, which evaluates the use of complementary and alternative medicine every five years as part of its National Health Interview Survey , yoga is among the leading alternative therapies in the United States. Thankfully, skiing appeared nowhere on that list. I could never ski, despite growing up in Buffalo’s notoriously snowy winters. In fact, I never really understood skiing, to venture downhill seemed a ridiculous idea; paying to swoosh, slip, oof. Now, living with Parkinson’s, why hit the slopes when I can experience a tumble on dry land? No, I can’t ski.

    I can, on the other hand, practice yoga. It doesn’t require any special equipment, clothing or weather. The yoga mat is a handy accessory, but it’s not necessary. Warm sunshine is a pleasant bonus, but the weather plays no role. Yoga pants? Yoga studio? Yoga music? All are add-ons. I’ve practiced yoga on airplanes, at the kitchen counter, on the back deck in my pajamas while listening to robins sing.

    What Advice Do You Have For People Interested In Starting Yoga

    Yoga in popular media has been sold as an extreme commercialised version of reality. There is no need for fancy memberships to an exclusive studio or expensive yoga outfits. It is not only for ballerina dancers who can contort into increasingly crazy shapes.

    This year, for example, I mostly studied under a teacher who is a wheelchair user and teaches very accessible, powerful poses to people who are of all shapes, sizes and abilities. It has been an amazing exploration.

    Keep trying. Maybe shift the time of day that you practise. Try a new style or teacher. There is a tremendous range of poses and styles. Don’t get discouraged.

    Need to know

    Dr Indu Subramanian is a movement disorder neurologist and director of a Veterans Affairs Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education and Clinical Centre in Los Angeles, US. Originally from Canada, Subramanian completed her fellowship training in Movement Disorders at the UCLA School of Medicine, US. She is drawn to integrative treatment for Parkinson’s disease, with a special interest in mind-body approaches and alternative systems of healthcare. Mother to three boys, she enjoys yoga, photography, world travel and jazz.

    For more information about complementary Parkinson’s disease therapies, please visit the EPDA website.

    Read more:

    Yoga Offers Neuroprotection And Can Prevent Parkinsons Disease

    There are limited studies that demonstrate the benefits yoga has to offer for the nervous system.

    Since symptoms associated with Parkinson’s include shaking, tremor, anxiety and cognitive confusions and yoga incorporate practising breathing, appropriate posture and meditation it can directly affect the quality of life of patients suffering from Parkinson’s.

    According to a study published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience in 2015, yogis seem to have better cognitive functioning as compared to others who did not practice yoga.

    The study described how the number of hours of practising yoga can have an effect on the cognitive decline of an individual and thereby protect age-related neurological diseases.

    Research studies reveal that yogic practices increases the grey matter volume and thus improves the presence of mind, cognition and ability to concentrate and pay attention.

    The longer the duration of practice the more will be the increase in grey matter volume.

    Yoga deeply emphasizes on meditation that helps enhance concentration, memory and trains the mind.

    It also positively impacts neuroplasticity .

    According to a study performed by Yang et al. 60 min sessions of yogic practices conducted daily for 12 weeks enhanced memory, cognition and induced positive neuroplastic effects in the elderly.

    The neuroplastic effects were not significant, however, the researchers suggested the need for deeper research to demonstrate this effect.

    Oct 2, 2020 | Blog |

    Photo by Nathan Dumlao.

    Yoga Therapy Can Support Parkinsons Disease At Any Stage

    Oct 2, 2020 | Blog |

    Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects more than 1 million people in North America alone. After Alzheimer’s disease, PD is the second most common neurodegenerative disease.

    As with other chronic conditions for which a cure does not yet exist, yoga therapy has a lot to offer those with PD. Yogic tools can complement the most commonly available Western approaches, such as prescription medication and physical therapy. When used carefully and through a therapeutic lens, they can also bring a welcome element of self-agency to healthcare for PD—that is, people can take concrete steps to affect their own well-being.

    Photo by Nathan Dumlao.

    Regular exercise is especially valuable for those with PD because the disease tends to progressively worsen mobility. Specifically, the physical aspects of yoga can assist in improving the rigidity and flexed posture that are hallmarks of this disease; the practice may also improve joint pain, motor task function, and even some non-motor symptoms. Yoga can lend a sense of control over the physical aspects of PD, even if someone never engaged in physical activity in the past. Working with a yoga therapist or joining Parkinson’s-specific yoga groups may be a good way to get started.

    What Type Of Yoga Poses Are Good For Parkinsons Disease

    For a Parkinson’s patient, yoga should be all about establishing muscle nerve coordination, mind-body awareness, and stable body movements. 

    To get the most of yoga benefits for Parkinson’s Disease, you will have to practice specific yoga poses that focus a lot on slow regulation of your muscles, and a couple of direct CNS stimulating poses. For example, seated or assisted yoga postures.

    With a lack of muscle control and stability, you will obviously have to look into the most minimalist poses. The poses must not only require minimum physical effort but also have basic movements.

    Remember, while practicing the yoga poses in Parkinson’s, be patient. Do not rush the poses. Take extra time and make the movements really slow. Slow movements will be a better stability exercise for your nerves and muscles.

    These basic yoga poses are very effective for Parkinson’s Disease.

    Breathing: How Yoga Can Help Control Parkinsons Tremors

    Yoga for Parkinson

    When it comes down to it, yoga requires one thing only. Breath. If you’re reading this, odds are that you’re breathing. So, yes, you, too, can do yoga.

    Yoga practice, whether at home or in a class, starts with the breath. One area we can still control in our dopamine-challenged lives lies in our breathing. According to the Parkinson’s Research Foundation , “Controlling your breath … helps in moments of panic such as feet sticking to the floor when walking.”

    We can choose to take a deep breath. We can use the breath as a tool to lead us inside and notice what might be going on in there. The PRF adds that, “In this form of yoga, the mind is always watchful.” When we notice stress from the vantage point of an inner witness, our response can shift from the fear or anxiety of stumbling to choosing to take a deep breath and relax.

    Yoga Is Good Medicine For Those With Parkinsons Disease

    Most Americans have read or heard about Parkinson’s disease. While its name is widely known, the disease itself isn’t widely understood. It’s estimated that 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States, joining the 1.5 million Americans who currently have Parkinson’s disease.

    With the growing number of people who must face this health challenge, it is important to understand how the disease affects a typical patient; why an adaptive yoga practice can be a beneficial therapy to reduce the negative impact of its symptoms; and how to find a yoga program that targets the needs of students diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

    Parkinson’s disease results from the death or impairment of certain nerve cells in the brain. When healthy, these cells produce dopamine—the orchestra conductor in the symphony of brain chemistry.

    When too many dopamine-producing cells are damaged, muscular dysfunction appears—perhaps a slight tremor, mumbled speech or stiffness of movement. Symptoms such as these become more pronounced over time, and, while research continues, there is not yet a cure for the disease.

    The good news? As scientists work towards a cure, the practice of yoga can help relieve many of the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

    The gentle, slow and precise moves of yoga guide the body into postures that:

    • Increase flexibility and range of motion
    • Improve circulation
    • Enhance one’s emotional state
    • Improve alertness of mind


    Yoga Therapy For Parkinsons Management Common Overview

    Diet plays a crucial role few common pointers that help-

  • Eat on time. Chew food properly.
  • Sattvic home-cooked meals
  • Increase the intake of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. Include high-fibre foods such as vegetables, cooked peas and beans , whole-grain foods, cereals, rice, and fresh fruit in your diet. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Keep the body well hydrated.
  • Avoid processed and refined foods. Try to avoid nerve stimulants such as tea, coffee, alcohol, dark chocolate.

    Yoga Pranayama are vitally important as they improve the breathing capacities and help to focus. They bring about mental and stability. The neuromuscular system is immensely benefited, and motor functions are developed. Yogendra Pranayamas are ideally suited and recommended for tackling these symptoms of Parkinson’s. Yogendra Pranayama I, II, III and IV should be regularly practised.

    Watch videos for details:

    Yogendra Asanas recommended are Talasana ; Yastikasana; Parvatasana; Suptvakrasana and Hastapadangustasana. These are simple yet very effective yoga poses to improve the neuromuscular coordination and improve range of motion.

    Kriyas help in internal cleansing and keep the body free of toxins. Jalaneti and Kapalbhati keep the sinuses clean, and you feel light and relaxed.

    For emotional balance The Yoga Institute pioneered techniques such as Anitya Bhavana& Reflection help improve the memory and Nispandbhava provide emotional calm.

    Precautions With Yoga Practice For Parkinsons Disease

    It is important to consult a yoga teacher before initiating practice so that he/she can recommend which poses would suit your health.

    It is advisable to customize the yoga asanas as per your needs eg: performing them in a seated position or supine position.

    You could also consider including gentle breathing practices or pranayama in your routine.

    Start with short duration but regular yogic practices under the vigilance of a teacher.

    It Can Protect Mental Health Of Parkinsons Patients

    Patients living with Parkinson’s disease experience depression and anxiety that negatively impacts their quality of living.

    Laughter Yoga is a form of exercise that involves voluntary laughter. Laughter yoga, also called Hasya yoga, has been proven to be effective in improving mood in physically healthy adults.

    But few studies are available for supporting the effectiveness of Laughter Yoga in Parkinson.

    DeCaro et al. demonstrated the possibility of Laughter Yoga being effective in improving low mood in Parkinson disease patients.

    Their improvement in well-being was measured by observing the enthusiasm, energy levels, mood, optimism, stress level, level of friendship with group members, awareness about breathing, muscle relaxation, mental relaxation, and ability to laugh without a reason.

    There was a significant improvement in well-being after the 45-minute Laughter Yoga session.

    Yogic exercises need to be tailored such that they address symptoms like depression, fatigue and apathy.

    These exercises may include relaxation techniques like Shavasana or breathing exercises that relax the patient without producing any kind of exertion and help alleviate their symptoms at the same time.

    Adaptive Yoga involves tailoring traditional poses to the body of an individual rather than forcing the body into a specific pose.

    Another modification of yoga designed for patients and the elderly is Chair Yoga which involves performing yogic exercises while seated in the chair.

    How Does Yoga Help People With Parkinsons Disease

    Yoga can have tremendous effects on the mind and body. It is thought to be very powerful for the autonomic nervous system, which can help manage stress. The stretches and poses are helpful for posture, which makes yoga good for ageing populations in general. For anyone who is spending too much time on Zoom, getting up and doing some simple yoga poses to break up the sedentary day can be very therapeutic.

    Yoga may help with mood, especially anxiety and depression, and sleep – which are all non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. Meditation may help cognition, and breathwork may help non-motor problems as well as autonomic nervous system issues that are exacerbated in Parkinson’s disease.

    The poses may improve balance, stretch tight body parts and allow for better range of motion, while the flow between poses is thought to improve cardiovascular fitness. Poses are modifiable, so the practitioner can increase or decrease the complexity of the pose to adapt to changing issues in the body – day-to-day or year-to-year.

    Yoga Can Relieve Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease

    Various research studies have found that incorporating yogic practices as a part of the therapy helps reduce tremors, bradykinesia and other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and helps improve mobility.

    Controlled pilot study of the effects of power yoga in Parkinson’s disease

    Ni et al. Complementary Therapies In Medicine, 2016

    According to a study published in Complementary therapies in medicine, 2016, a three-month yoga program conducted regularly for patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease brought about a considerable improvement in physical functions and overall quality of life.

    The control group, on the other hand, patients who did not practice yoga, showed no improvement in the symptoms.

    Yoga helped reduced symptoms like Bradykinesia and rigidity. It increased muscle strength and power in the patients practising yoga on a daily basis.

    Comparative Effect of Power Training and High-Speed Yoga on Motor Function in Older Patients With Parkinson Disease

    Ni et al. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2016

    Power training and high-speed Yoga program are different forms of physical activity.

    Power training is a combination of strength and speed. It is often done by athletes.

    High-speed yoga involves faster breathing exercises that not only leads to high calorie expenditure but enables faster processing of the brain.

    The training was performed twice a week for a period of 12 weeks regularly.

    Moriello et al. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2013


    Yoga Remedies Urinary And Bowel Irregularities

    Although, not a signature symptom of Parkinson’s, yet patients of PD do suffer urinary and bowel disorders. Now, this is primarily because your bowel and urinary movements are automated by your nerves.

    Thus, with most fundamental nervous disorders our urinary and bowel systems take a hit. Yoga poses will help your nerves to establish proper movement in your abdominal tracts, organs, and muscles.

    You will find yoga poses that work specifically on the abdominal region. And you will find yoga poses that primarily stimulate your CNS, but indirectly benefits your gut surroundings.

    How Yoga And Meditation May Change The Brain

    Yoga Therapy and Parkinson’s Disease

    Yoga is one of the leading alternative therapies used by Americans, according to a National Institutes of Health survey on alternative medicine use.

    Collectively, recent research studies of the effects of meditation practice demonstrate that meditators realize significantly higher attentional abilities, enhanced cognitive abilities and brain structural changes, according to the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences’ . “There is increasing research evidence to support the practice of meditation techniques to help improve cognition and memory in patients with neurodegenerative diseases,” the study states.

    Recent Studies on Yoga and Meditation include:

    • Randomized working memory capacity trial

    The results of a randomized trial of undergraduates published in the journal Psychological Science showed that participants who spent 10 minutes per day performing mindfulness meditation realized improved working memory capacity and Graduate Record Exam performance. After just two weeks of daily meditation, participants performed an average 16 points higher on the verbal portion of the GRE and demonstrated improved ability to attend to a task without distraction.

    • Neuroimaging studies of meditation

    In the second study, brain scans were taken of individuals who had never meditated before and again after enrolling the participants in an eight-week meditation-based stress reduction program. Study participants were asked to meditate for 30-40 minutes per day for eight weeks.

    How Do You Know You Have Parkinsons Disease

    There is no definitive way to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Your doctor will ask questions about the onset of your symptoms and assess your movement to make referrals to specialists who can make a formal diagnosis. 

    You can expect to see a neurologist who can complete a neurologic examination. This may include brain imaging, an MRI, or a PET scan to see activity in the area of the brain typically affected by Parkinson’s disease. 

    Your doctor may also refer you to a movement disorder specialist. Seeing subspecialists is very important to avoid being misdiagnosed. Highly trained specialists can provide their expertise in specific areas of medicine where a precise diagnosis isn’t possible from blood work or another definitive test.

    Parkinsons Disease Common Symptoms Include

    • Fatigue
    • Likelihood of dementia


    Yoga is a way of life. Classical Yoga provides an alternative method to manage Parkinson’s symptoms.  Several types of research confirmed that the individualised progress in Yoga postures with regular training showed enhanced motor scores and developed gait parameters. Yoga enhances muscle mobility, balance and lower-extremity functions.


    Popular Articles