The Power of Attention - First-Hand Yogic Experience in Parkinson's Disease

Sannyasi Prashantmurti, Pune, India

There are three types of information-sharing for any project or undertaking: first, the proposed project; second, work-in-progress; and third, result declaration of the project.

I decided to publish this article based on the second type of information-sharing: work-in-progress. This is a project on 'Yogic management of Parkinson's disease'. Through the practices of yoga, very inspiring and motivating results are being observed.

I met Mr Sisodia and saw his eagerness to start yoga. His strong willingness gave a clear indication that the right time had come to move towards improvement of his health and happiness through yoga which is one of the main outcomes of yogic practices.

We organized to meet at his house where he shared his problem: he had been diagnosed with a mild form of Parkinson's disease in 2014. He told me that he would be in India for one month or so. Finally, we decided that he would go through the yogic practices for at least the next two months.

With the permission of Mr Sisodia, I planned to publish this article with date-wise information and feedback received by him, from the day we started yoga. I am including my observations as well so that by going through the date-wise feedback and observations one can see that slowly and gradually positive and uplifting aspects are being re-organized and re-established in his life which was disturbed due to the disease.

3 April 2017 — On the first day, when he started the practices due to the tremors of his body, I was unsure of the time he may take to settle down. When he sat down, his hands were shaking and the head shook while lying down.

7 April 2017 — I observed that after performing asanas, when he laid in shavasana for relaxation, the head shook but then after a while the head became steady, which gave me a glimpse of hope.

11 April 2017 — In class, Mr Sisodia gave the feedback that he had slept well for the past few nights.

17 April 2017 — During yoga nidra which he did after asanas, I observed a very clear and positive change in Mr Sisodia – he had almost no tremor of the head. During and after pranayama practices his hands were steady.

18 April 2017 — Mr Sisodia gave the feedback that previously he had to take medication every 3 to 4 hours in order to relax his muscles, but today he extended up to 5 hours. I suggested that when he starts feeling stiffness in the body the next time, instead of taking immediate medicine to relax the muscles, he should try to do relaxation in the lying position which he knew well by this time.

24 April 2017 — When I reached his residence for the class, I saw Mr Sisodia lying on the floor. He said that he was experiencing the stiffness, so was trying to do relaxation instead of taking medicine. Without making any change in the position, I told him to start the breathing techniques: abdominal breathing, thoracic and clavicular breathing and yogic breathing. Then I gave him yoga nidra, followed by a few asanas and pranayama practices. After the yoga session, when I asked him how he was feeling, he said, 'Good, but if I walk a little bit then I can figure it out more clearly.' I asked him to take his time and walk. So, he went for a short walk and said he was feeling better than normal.

I was happy to hear this. The job of medicines was now being done by the yogic practices which relax the muscles consciously.

28 April 2017 — A similar situation was repeated on this day. When he was feeling stiffness in the body, he waited for the yoga session instead of taking medicine. After almost the same set of practices, he said, 'FEELING NORMAL'. This day's feedback proved that yoga was working on his Parkinson's disease.

29 April 2017 — He told me that he had extended the intake of medicine to one hour for relaxing the muscles, which in itself is a big achievement as Parkinson's is said to be a stubborn disorder. He also told me that he was now able to lie down fat on the back for sleeping which had not been possible before.

These are the feedbacks and observations for the month of April 2017 which show clear progress. The important aspect in this progressive phase of Mr Sisodia is his sincerity and regularity of practising yoga. Without his sincere efforts, such progress may not have taken place.

The objective of this article is to create awareness of how yoga helps in all aspects of the life, whether there is some health issue, or we want to experience a higher state by enhancing skill and excellence. Whatever the case may be, management of body, mind and emotions is necessary and yoga harmonizes them perfectly.

Another objective is to reach out to the needy people who are losing hope due to Parkinson's disease or any kind of neurological disorder. I want to say, 'Don’t lose hope'. The results are very positive if you learn yoga properly and do it with sincerity and regularity. You just need to exercise your willpower to come under the shelter of yoga. Pray to God to give inspiration, motivation and strength to start yoga today itself. Why wait for tomorrow!

Here are the practices which Mr Sisodia is doing:

Asanas

Pawanmuktasana part 1, utthanpadasana, supta udarakarshanasana, pada sanchalanasana, chakra padasana, tadasana, tiryak tadasana, kati chakrasana, marjari asana, saral bhujangasana, bhujangasana, ardha shalabhasana, advasana.

Pranayamas

Abdominal breathing, thoracic breathing, thoracic and clavicular breathing, yogic breathing, nadi shodhana pranayama, bhramari pranayama, ujjayi pranayama.

Relaxation

Shavasana, yoga nidra.

Meditation

Trataka.

Mantra chanting

—Gayatri Mantra x 11, Mahamrityunjaya Mantra x 11, 32 names of Durga x 3 (the 3 mantras daily on waking in the morning);

—Mahamrityunjaya Mantra x 108 every Saturday;

—Aditya Hridayam Path x 3 times every morning.