This is a sixteen-minute introduction to the Mindful Movement for Parkinson's Podcast and Audio Library. It introduces some of the concepts underpinning mindful movement and reasons why it is an effective practice for those with Parkinson's Disease, as well as information about myself and how to use the audio library.
In this thirteen-minute installment of the podcast, I give guidelines for doing the mindful movement lessons in a safe and effective manner, including positions and props, addressing issues like tremor and dystonia, and where to direct your attention throughout a lesson. If you are familiar with guidelines from the Feldenkrais Method, you might skip this introduction. Otherwise, please take the time to listen to this so as to maximize the benefit of these lessons.
It can be hard to remember that vision is not just "automatic." It requires the smooth functioning of a complex system of muscles and nerves. Because we are so highly visual as a species, the muscles of the eyes end up having a strong influence on the muscles of the neck and back, and from there the entire body! Using the eyes with greater awareness can lead to less strain, better balance, and a greater sense of security in movement. The two audio recordings posted here are similar in nature, but the "shorter version" is only 35 minutes a bit simpler, while the "longer version" is a bit more complex and runs to 50 minutes.
These recordings are from a four-part series on balance I taught in Boulder, Colorado in March 2016. It is four lessons that were taught over four weeks.
In the first lesson, we explore one of the fundamentals of human movement: crawling. After building awareness of the main factors in balance - contact with support surfaces, body position, and gravity - we slowly build up the movements that compose crawling. Crawling is a wonderful activity for activating the full range of the shoulders and hips, and it can help to ease fear of falling if one is already familiar with how to move comfortably on the ground. If you'd like to explore crawling in more depth, start with my earlier podcast, "Crawling #1", available below.
The second lesson address an issue common amongst people with movement disorders, as well as in the general elderly population - getting safely to the floor and back to standing. The loss of this ability has been correlated with lots of negative health outcomes, so it's a great thing to practice and retain!
The third lesson looks at the crucial element of side-to-side weight transfer as an element of balance in walking. Part of the lesson is done in walking and standing, while other parts are done lying down and sitting in a chair.
The last lesson focuses on the roles of the ankles in balance. Having a sense of range of motion in the ankle joints - up and down, and though to a lesser degree, side to side - can help us negotiate ground forces and the transfer of our body weight to the ground in ways that make balance much more approachable.
Can you sense most of your 24 vertebrae? How much range of movement might you gain if you could? To be able to sense one's spine and its movement is one of the fundamental bases of safe, effective, and enjoyable movement. In this classic 20-minute lesson, we explore mobility of the spine, pelvis, and hip joints - essential areas for balance and strength. The lesson is done lying on the back.
In this 38-minute lesson, done lying on each side and on the back, we explore spinal rotation - the ability of the vertebrae to rotate or twist. We also look at how deep breathing - which involves muscles related both to breathing and spinal posture - can increase the ease and range of spinal rotation. The lesson ends with some walking, exploring how healthy spinal rotation can become a conscious part of walking and swinging the arms. This lesson was taught as the second lesson during a Mindfulness for Parkinson's workshop, so it would make sense to do it after having done the lesson "Mobility of the Shoulder Blades."
In this 40-minute lesson done lying on the back, we explore the range of movements available to the shoulder blades. With gentle movement, we try to "unglue" the musculature that binds the shoulder blades into a fixed position in relation to the spine on so many people, thus hindering movements like reaching, carrying objects, and turning the steering wheel of a car. This lesson was taught as the first of a two part series at a Mindfulness for Parkinson's workshop, with the second being "Spinal Rotation."
In this forty-three minute lesson, we explore balance in walking through awareness of the soles of the feet and the availability of the ankles, knees, and hip joints to adjust in movement. The lesson is mostly done standing and walking, with interludes sitting in a chair. The ideal set-up for this lesson is a chair (with a back), and enough space to walk around or back and forth in the room.
A ten-minute lesson exploring spinal movement while sitting in a chair.
In this twelve-minute lesson, we practice deep breathing in the low belly, the solar plexus, and the upper reaches of the lungs. A very effective, brief exercise to get more oxygen in your system, calm the nervous system, and deepen your awareness of the breath.