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Moving on with Parkinson's Pose Sequence

Of the 1.5 million Americans with Parkinson's disease,up to 225,000 are under the age of 50. Whatever your age,if you're in the early stages of the disease, yoga may slow its progression and help you lead a full life.

By Peggy van Hulsteyn

  1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose) to Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute) Benefits: Encourages good posture and balance. Quells anxiety caused by decreasing motor control. Stand with your feet together, your arms by your sides, and your shoulders rolled back and down. This is Mountain Pose. Stay here for 5 breaths, and notice how your weight is distributed on each foot. You may be leaning forward or back, or you may have more weight on one foot than the other. Plant all four corners of your feet evenly into the earth for another 5 breaths. With your Mountain Pose firmly established, you can begin to move and warm up your upper body. Inhale as you turn your palms out and reach your arms overhead, pressing your palms together and gazing up toward your fingertips. Then exhale as you draw your hands down the center line of your body, lowering your hands to Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal) in front of your heart. Inhale through the crown, and exhale through the feet into the earth, grounding the pose for another 5 breaths. Repeat the pattern several times.
  2. Trunk circles Benefits: This exercise invigorates the entire body and relieves stiffness in the hips and side body. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hands resting at your waist. When you feel steady, bend forward at the hips so that your torso is parallel to the floor. Make sure your neck is long and in line with the rest of your spine. Slowly sweep your torso up and to the right for a nice stretch on your left side. Continue to move upward until you're almost standing upright. Then sweep down to the left to stretch your right side. The movement should be one continuous circle. Keep your neck aligned with the spine and your back long and extended, not compressed or overly arched. Complete 10 circles in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions.
  3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) Benefits: Elongates the middle and lower back, stretches the hamstrings, and quiets the body. Stand with your feet together, arms relaxed and by your sides, for 5 breaths. On an exhalation, gently bend forward at the hip joints, and let your head hang from the root of the neck. If you can, keep your knees straight. Drop your hands to the floor for support. With each inhalation, try releasing tension in the lower back and hips. Hold for 10 breaths.
  4. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) Benefits: Strengthens the legs, improves balance, and boosts self-confidence. Begin by standing with your feet wide apart. Lift your arms to shoulder height and parallel to the floor, palms facing down. Turn your right foot 90 degrees to the right and your left foot about 60 degrees in the same direction. Then bend your right knee so that it lines up directly over your right ankle. To ensure that the left knee remains extended, press your outer left heel firmly to the floor. Keep both sides of your trunk equally long, and align your shoulders directly over the pelvis. Turn your head to the right and look out over your fingers, while meditating on courage. Hold for up to 30 breaths. If you feel fatigued, hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths and then switch to the other side.
  1. Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose), variation Benefits: Encourages trunk rotation and promotes calmness. Begin by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Exhale and drop your knees to the right as your head rolls to look left. Bring your arms into a T shape at shoulder height, with palms facing up. Hold for 10 breaths, and then roll your knees and head to the other side. Repeat the pose up to 10 times on each side.
  1. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) Benefits: Relieves lower-body stiffness and combats fatigue. Sit in Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in front of a bolster with your sacrum touching the edge. (If you don't have a bolster, stack a few folded blankets about 5 inches high and wide enough to support your whole back.) Place two folded blankets underneath your thighs. Even if you are flexible, it's important to fully support your body in this pose in order to receive the restorative benefits. Slowly lie back, and let your hands rest beside you with your palms up and eyes closed. Breathe into your rib cage and belly, and direct the breath into your groins, hips, and lower back. Enjoy the benefits of the pose for up to 5 minutes. To come out of the pose, gently roll yourself off the bolster and onto your right side. Use your hands to press yourself back up to a seated position. From there, lie in Savasana (Corpse Pose) for 10 minutes or, if you're feeling anxious, choose to repeat Tadasana to Urdhva Hastasana.
Many of the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) Information and Referral Centers, more than 50 of which exist across the United States, maintain a listing of support groups and yoga instructors.

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