Parkinson’s Disease: A Case Report

My experiences with Parkinson’s disease, ulcerative colitis and Satyananda Yoga (Extract)

ABSTRACT: From the moment I started regular yoga practice, I experienced an arrest of the Parkinson’s disease, which lasted for some time. In this article, I offer an unexplainable glimpse of the potentiality of Satyananda Yoga in getting rid of the disease.

Onset and deterioration

At the age of forty I started having neurological symptoms simulating sciatica. The following year, I underwent various neurological consultations. The problem was progressive until Parkinson’s disease was diagnosed. Medication started and I felt well for about one year.

After about one year which passed in a normal manner with medication, deterioration started. The condition, which I had developed at an unusually early age, was now deteriorating fast.

Contact with yoga

In a harassed state I wrote to Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati. Very kindly he permitted me to stay at Ganga Darshan, Munger, for fifteen days where I learned the yogic practices prescribed.

Within three months of sincere and regular practice I noticed a change in my condition.

The time, usually 24 hours, needed for the main drug to be effective reduced. I was able to get up from bed without any medication. I could walk one to two kilometres in the morning and perform my daily morning pursuits. I did this without medication and thus the need for drugs shifted from before getting out of bed to after breakfast. My sleep improved and I could again drive my scooter to work. The days passed energetically and cheerfully.

Emotional hurt

About six months later, after a quarrel at home, I felt an intense shock and emotional hurt. Again, deterioration started. I lost the strength for the special yoga practices and had to continue with routine, simple practices. However, I could remember the level of progress I had reached before.

I remembered a similar family quarrel which occurred six months prior to the development of the disease. I had felt intense shock and emotional hurt then as well. At that time I had remained in a depressive mood for two to three months and had lost the feeling of joy, laughter, zeal and inner energy. My activities became mechanical and then I developed the condition of Parkinson’s disease.

Gastric upset, loss of appetite, constipation alternating with diarrhoea, and sleep disturbance were associated with the development of my neurological problem. However, a third intense emotional hurt triggered blood-stained defecation which continued for months. Lower GIT endoscopy and biopsy diagnosed my gut problem as ulcerative colitis. In spite of continuous treatment, remissions and relapses continued for years.

Enter lifestyle

In modern medicine ulcerative colitis is considered to be a psychosomatic problem. I therefore had to admit that something was wrong in my emotional and psychic makeup and lifestyle. The solution was to analyse and to know the factors involved.

Parkinson’s disease had already restricted my activities and the association of ulcerative colitis made me almost homebound. Now there was abundant time to think and analyzer. The teachings of Paramahamsa Swami Satyananda Saraswati and Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati helped me a lot to think in the right direction

I saw my past, my craving for money, professional jealousy, undue emotional attachment with my beloved and excessive expectations towards each other. There was no fulfillment of expected desires which led to anger, irritability, useless quarrels, an over-indulgence in sex and more professional jealousy.

I noticed a lack of synchronization between my thoughts and deeds, such as undisciplined thoughts covered by apparently disciplined acts. All these factors created a lot of tension, lack of relaxation and a dual personality.

Factors which aggravated my Parkinson’s problem

  • Excessive mental or physical work;
  • Continuous thinking of particular problems;
  • Disappointment and negative feelings in the modern, competitive life;
  • Indulgence in sex;
  • Heavy meals or over-eating;
  • Sleeplessness;
  • Exposure to cloudy or cold weather.

Factors which alleviated my problem

  • Regular yoga practice;
  • Proper sleep and relaxation;
  • Light and easily digestible meals;
  • Sexual abstinence.

The help of Satyananda Yoga

The best available drug treatment kept me alive but could not help me to live life. I suspected that suppressed irritability and anger in my subconscious had expressed itself in the form of ulcerative colitis.

Firstly I tried to express my emotions physically, but that made my wife vulnerable. Immediately I stopped and began regular practice of antar mouna, asanas with breath synchronization, nadi shodhana pranayama, japa, and yoga nidra. I tried to fit my lifestyle into a yogic pattern. Frequent short ashram visits to Munger and the Satyananda ashram in Rajnandgaon helped. An appreciable positive change in my health ensued. The progress of my Parkinson’s disease was arrested and ulcerative colitis slowly came under control.

I have not taken any medication for ulcerative colitis in the last three to four years. I only take medication for Parkinson’s disease.

Passive pawanmuktasana

The real benefit is the combination of all the yoga practices along with a change in one’s thought process and lifestyle. Pawanmuktasana, surya namaskar, relaxation, yoga nidra, nadi shodhana pranayama with antar kumbhaka, japa and meditation are mandatory practices.

Muscle stiffness and tremors sometimes restrict me from doing yoga practice. At such times, I have applied the following technique with immediate positive effect. Another person who knows the yoga technique moves the joints and limbs of the patient while the patient is sitting on a bed. This gives appreciable relief.

My present status

I find myself as a backbencher disciple. At an early stage I experienced the benefits of yoga practices. However, during periods when practices were irregular the disease progressed.

The boon of yoga has kept my body responsive to the same dose of medicine even though I have had Parkinson’s for nineteen years. With some adjustment I am able to perform my job and earn a livelihood. Apart from allopathic medication I am definitely in the position to give credit to Satyananda Yoga for my better working fitness. The only requirement is full devotion and regularity of the practices under the guidance of the guru.

—Sannyasi Vedant Murti (Dr. Namdev G.R.), Rajnandgaon, India (2007)