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[back] Weekly Manasa Yoga Classes at the Parkinson's Center Shailaja Menon - 10 October 2011

Weekly Manasa Yoga Classes at the Parkinson's Center

Yoga is an integral part of many people's lives today and is generally regarded as a means of stretching muscles and toning bodies. However, what may come as news to many people is that yoga has a long-established therapeutic record as well.

This year, a group of second-year medical students from Monash University approached Manoj to participate in a collaborative study on the effect of yoga on non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's like fatigue, depression, anxiety, slowness of thinking, etc. This community based project (CBP) was initiated by Monash University in partnership with the Malaysian Parkinson's Disease Association (MPDA).

Since then, every week Manoj and his team of Manasa volunteers have been visiting the centre and helping the participants go through a series of asanas. How can yoga help?

Manoj explained, 'Manasa yoga is basically about stretching awareness, and how not to get contracted around labels, words etc. So in the first place, we go easy on seeing these students as 'those with Parkinson's disease' etc. We have several biomechanical principles which we apply in our practice of Manasa yoga, and these principles apply to everybody, including special students such as these. So, as with any student, I look for areas where certain neuro - muscular or facial-related stiffness patterns exist, and then help them to deal with it. Furthermore, Manasa yoga is all about equiping the practitioners themselves with enhanced awareness. Many times the patients do not realise the loss of movement in their bodies.

But with the continuous movement awareness which we try to bring out in them, the practitioners will recognise this, such as perhaps the fact that they are not swinging one arm while walking, etc, and directly and deliberately work on it. Another area is their anxiety levels as well as difficulty with sleeping. The long exhalation-based breathing, woven with philosophical insights of yoga can go a long way to bring about the much needed acceptance, calmness, etc. All the practices are modified, and the use of chairs, bolsters and straps make it a very safe and accessible practice of the patients.'
Manoj Kaimal helping out Yip Soon with her stretching.

On his association with MPDA, Manoj commented, 'At Manasa yoga, with our dedicated group of teachers, we are committed to sharing the benefits of yoga. We regularly conduct talks in various associations of Malaysia, such as those related to High Blood Pressure, Depression, Stroke and Heart Diseases, etc."

According to Sara Lew, President of the MPDA, whose late father suffered from Parkinson's as well, 'Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disease of the nervous system, affecting the brain, as well as other 'peripheral' nervous system structures. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer's disease, and affects people of all races. Though it is more common in older people, younger people may also be affected.'

About the yoga classes, Sara affirmed, 'The response has been very positive and there is great enthusiasm and motivation among the participants. The classes have encouraged them to come out of their houses and exercise in a group setting. Also Manoj teaches them movements specific to their problems associated with Parkinson's and that helps them in their everyday lives.' She added, 'I'm always being asked whether the yoga classes are being held and the greatest satisfaction is in seeing them come out of the class with a smile on their face. I am extremely grateful to Manoj and his team of dedicated volunteers for making the time to conduct the classes and contributing to the work of our association.'
Manasa Volunteer, Susan Kee Thulin assisting Ivan Lim Shin Fook who has been living with PD for 23 years.

Note by MPDA: Manas means the mind. Manasa Yoga was founded by Manoj Kaimal and Sandhya. If you wish to stretch your mind towards peace, focus and wisdom, please visit www.manasa-yoga.com for more information.

More pics inserted by MPDA