NeuroSupportive Yoga Therapy
Yoga Therapy for Neurological Conditions
& Movement Disorders
Neurological conditions and movement disorders present long-term challenges that often surpass the reach of conventional therapeutic interventions. Living with multiple sclerosis, early onset Parkinson's, or ALS is quite a different proposition from that of healing from an injury: short-term, intensive, and sporadic therapy does not support and sustain an individual for a lifetime. Yoga Therapy's whole-person approach to health and wellbeing, adaptability, and long-term outlook on self-care and quality of life provide a sustainable and gentle form of therapy for the complex range of physical symptoms, changing emotional state, and stress / anxiety associated with the unpredictability of living with a neurological condition or movement disorder.
NeuroSupportive Yoga Therapy™ sessions are provided by a C-IAYT yoga therapist specializing in neurological conditions. She is familiar with the day-to-day, moment-to-moment variability and nuanced nature of neurological symptoms, as well as the impact of medication side-effects, fatigue and chronic pain. Each session is adjusted to meet the client's current, ongoing, and changing situation and ability. To ensure accessibility and reduce the need for arranging transportation, yoga therapy sessions are provided at the client's residence in Bloomington Indiana and surrounding area including Indianapolis. For some, it can be the difference between being 'frozen' at home (those with Parkinson's will relate to this!) or having sufficient energy to shower, dress, and drive to and from an appointment at another location. For most of us, making lunch or running an errand are an afterthought: for those with MS, PD or ALS, each moment of activity can be the difference—and choice—between spending time with friends and family, or being unable to function for the next few days or week. At times, it is necessary to pause and simply care for oneself.
Over time, and with a commitment to regular practice and application of what is learned from yoga therapy sessions, our clients have expressed both surprise and pleasure at the changes they observe... some more subtle, and others quite substantial. Combining common-sense, proactive lifestyle therapy may be helpful in sustaining or improving long-term quality of life.
MS manifests in many ways, differing from one person to the next: balance and gait impairment, visual disturbances, spasticity and joint contracture, gastrointestinal issues, depression. Stress, be it emotional, physical, or mental can cause a flare-up of symptoms (exacerbation) or an outright relapse. The unpredictability of MS progression—from a once in a lifetime CIS (clinically isolated syndrome), to a relapsing-remitting pattern over decades, or a progressive and unrelenting worsening of symptoms—creates an uneasy, nebulous outlook on the future which clients often struggle with from the day of diagnosis. Yoga for MySelf™ - Yoga Therapy for MS gently focuses on physical patterns and acquired compensatory tendencies which may contribute to chronic pain and disability, while providing a means of self-care (sleep, nutrition, practical considerations) and more body-awareness (balance, falling, energy conservation) in daily activities. Sessions are not merely modified or adaptive yoga—they are specific to the person, and how best to benefit that person with consideration for the physical as well as emotional aspects of MS.
PD is often misunderstood by observers in that the body may appear awkward and wayward, a person's face enigmatic and set, yet inside is a thriving, sensitive human being. It does not help when long-term use of medications creates significant side effects which may—rather ironically—accentuate some of the symptoms of Parkinson's such as dyskinesia, obsessive/compulsive tendencies, and hallucinations. Freezing, brain fog, and dyskinesia may manifest at any time, or withdraw for long periods: movement is helpful, but knowing when a symptom is due to the disease or to medication will affect the approach, and focus, of each Simply Yoga Therapy for Parkinson's session. This said, we encourage each individual at their level of ability, but are mindful that the body-mind connection may be better addressed by movement one day, and by awareness and anxiety reduction techniques on another.
Yoga Therapy for ALS
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The name speaks for itself: a- no, myo- muscle, trophic -nourishment. Progressive, debilitating muscle weakness due to atrophy, accompanied by cramps and twitching, are the most visible symptoms, yet these are followed by loss of ability to speak, swallow, and eventually, breathe. How can yoga therapy help? From the first onset of symptoms, there is a growing physical weakness which cannot be directly addressed through physical activity, yet which can benefit from gentle yoga therapy focused on breathing patterns to reduce vertical breathing (using intrinsic neck muscles to lift the ribcage as the diaphragm weakens), and overall gentle mobilization of the body to help with circulation, digestion, and range of motion.
Yoga Therapy for Long-COVID
COVID-19 is not simply a respiratory virus. Neurological symptoms are increasingly being seen as both harbingers of the disease, and as a consequence of the disease. It poses a threat to the entire nervous system, according to studies: due to the immune system's strong reaction, the infection may cause inflammation that can damage the brain and nerves. It may affect the brain, spinal cord and nerves as well as muscles. We have significant experience with post-polio which has notable parallels with long-hauler syndrome(s) associated with COVID-19. Yoga Therapy is a unique and effective support to those experiencing post-COVID issues such as muscle weakness, diminished breathing capacity, unresolved chronic pain, and debilitating fatigue.
Yoga Therapy for Ehlers Danlos
Typically considered to be a genetically inherited syndrome with multiple subgroups, EDS symptomology ranges from chronic pain and fatigue, unstable joints and connective tissue, orthostatic intolerance and severe migraines to dysautonomia (malfunction of the autonomic nervous system). Yoga therapy is focused on stability, safe range of motion, and pain management.
Yoga Therapy for Lupus
Lupus - A systemic, autoimmune disease wherein the body's immune system attacks tissues and organs, creating systemic inflammation and affecting joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. Stiffness, Sjogren's syndrome (dry eyes, mouth), photosensitivity, skin rashes and lesions, repeated low-grade fever, excessive fatigue, and unpredictable relapses are a few of the manifestations of lupus. Fatigue and pain management, as well as learning to reduce stress or reactivity to stressors may be emphasized in yoga therapy sessions.
Yoga Therapy for Myasthenia Gravis
Significant ('grave') skeletal muscle weakness (arms, hands, fingers, legs, neck) is the hallmark of this chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease, as well as possible trouble swallowing and difficulty with speech (dysarthria). Although muscle weakness is often managed with DMTs, over-exertion, stress, menses, pregnancy, as well as anesthetics and some antibiotics are factors which may worsen myasthenia gravis. Comorbidities (co-occurring conditions) such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus may be present. Yoga therapy sessions will vary depending on level of ability or weakness, focus on identifying potential sources of worsening symptoms, as well as engaging in proactive lifestyle management and sustaining quality of life.
Yoga Therapy for Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy is a congenital (present at birth) condition which will affect an individual for life. Spasticity, abnormal joint flexion, movement abnormalities (dystonia, chorea), seizures, vision and hearing problems can all be present, or manifest separately. We generally work with teenagers or young adults to improve self-reliance and find solutions to movement / positional / functional challenges.
Yoga Therapy for Huntington's
Changes in personality such as irritability and anger are the first, usually overlooked, signs of Huntington's disease. With time, symptoms worsen notably: discoordination of movements, an unsteady gait, and eventual loss of ability to walk or talk. Huntington's is usually inherited, tending to develop at an earlier age with each generation. We find that anxiety and depression are common due to awareness of disease progression in family members, therefore yoga therapy sessions emphasize body-mind connection and letting go of negative, repetitive thought patterns and focusing on current strengths and abilities.
NeuroPalliative Yoga Therapy™
The term palliative is one of the most misunderstood terms in health care. It is associated with end of life and last recourse, when in fact 'palliate' (in medical terms) means to ease the symptoms of, or lessen the intensity of, a disease. Neuropalliative care is a relatively new field in neurology which puts an emphasis on the whole person, encompassing the various aspects of a person's life when addressing long-term neurological and neuromuscular conditions—taking into consideration their physical, mental, social, and spiritual needs.
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