Contributor: Michelle Dionne-Nisbet, Inner Fire Luminary
I love my job…I feel so privileged that I am able to teach yoga and meditation full time and get to work with some amazing individuals on a daily basis. However, sometimes a class comes along and teaches me more than I could ever teach them and touches my heart deeply. This is the case with my class at Parkinson Alberta.
The courage, resilience, hard work and positive attitudes of the men and women who consistently show up despite the obstacles they must overcome, demonstrates that if there is a will, there is a way. I am always humbled that they come to my class. Did you know that one of the winners of the Amazing Race had Parkinson Disease? This fact not only gives me inspiration, it reinforces that anything is truly possible!
Parkinson Disease is a neurodegenerative disease that robs people of their motor functions due to the death of the cells that normally produce dopamine. It is a movement disorder. Some of the symptoms of Parkinson are fatigue, sleep disturbances, constipation and problems with hand writing. Also, the voice can become quiet like a whisper; movement becomes small, more like a shuffle; smiles become nonexistent; and tremors shake parts of the body. And then there are the emotional concerns of stress, anxiety and depression. Medical treatment is used to help with some of the symptoms and it is also strongly recommended that physical activity is consistently done. Yoga is an amazing complementary therapy for movement disorders as it exercises both body and mind, provides a way to fight back against the disorder and creates an opportunity for fellowship and social support.
The weekly yoga class at Parkinson Alberta focuses on ways to help with movement, balance, breathing, strength and emotional well-being. Big movements are done to keep the body limber and to help with day to day tasks of getting dressed, brushing teeth and putting on shoes. Balance is practiced, as it is an everyday challenge for people with Parkinson’s. Deep breathing and working with different breathing exercises help with projecting the voice and keeping the lungs functioning at their best. Building strength helps with stamina. And a relaxing guided meditation at the beginning of the class sets the stage for a mindful practice where stress and worry are encouraged to take a back seat. Together, the class meets challenges with humor, compassion and focus. They refuse to let Parkinson’s get the better of them, they continue to show up in their lives and live! They are my teachers!
The difference I see from doing yoga these past few months with these individuals is astounding. Arms are above the head and big smiles are visible…I truly have the best job in the world and I am so blessed!
Michelle Dionne-Nisbet, Inner Fire Luminary