Q: My father has been diagnosed with Parkinson disease.   Any advice?

A: Starting with breathing is perfect. There is much research on the benefits of the 1:2 breathing – lowering stress hormones and inflammation. Of course love and attention suggested by Kaliji will lift mood.

But there is also quite a bit more that can be done. Research shows exercise and movement are very important to slow the progression of Parkinsons. For the tremors when resting,  sometimes weights are helpful. For constipation, drinking lots of water is most important. There is a prevalence of dehydration in Parkinson’s and water is the answer to a number of symptoms. I usually recommend starting the day with warm water with lemon then doing Fire Wash. For anxiety, in addition to the slow breathing, mantra and staying in the present is very helpful. Gentle flowing with the breath is very helpful. Maybe Child to Cat, or spinal rolls in a chair.

I’ve had some amazing results of helping Dystonia (cramping of muscles) through slow breathing and guided meditation (the relaxation Kaliji teaches). A number of people I worked with had Botox injections to help the dystonia. This treatment option may not be available everywhere.

One woman who had Parkinson’s with terrible dystonia in her face came to one private and practiced breathing in reclined butterfly lying over a bolster, and doing a guided meditation. When we were done she was crying (in joy). She said should could feel her face. The dystonia was (momentarily at least) gone. She never got that relief from anything else, and it was admittedly short lived, but important because it gave her hope it could happen again.

In our class series for Parkinson’s we worked on walking with a smooth, flowing gait. We worked on balance– with lots of foot and ankle strengtheners and chair supported two and one leg balances. We also provided research on plant-based diet. According to the Parkinson’s literature, exercise and diet are extremely important for managing symptoms. And of course, to reduce suffering, coming back to Self is the key.  Yoga, love, and attention.