BY ANGELA MCHARDY
Becoming diagnosed with PD meant I lost my many skills in multi-tasking, I could no longer keep apace of my demanding job in education. I tried to fulfil the role but couldn’t function with the speed of thought I used to. It became too hard. With a heavy heart, I took retirement and I now think of my job as keeping myself well. I started to research Parkinson’s interventions vociferously, and these are the 2 key findings I have discovered.
Dr Mercola of Mercola Video libraries states ”until recently, it was believed that the human brain, which consists of approximately 100 billion neural cells, could not generate new ones. The old model assumed that you were born with a finite number of brain cells, and when a cell died, no new cell grew in its place. This old model is no longer relevant, as it’s been proven that certain areas of your brain can generate new cells (neurogenesis), as well as creating new neural pathways.’’
One way to make our neurons more malleable is said to be through intense and consistent physical exercise. My yoga practice fits this approach perfectly.
Much has been written about the importance of gut health. It is often said that the state of your gut equals the state of your brain. Sarah Mckay writes about this paradigm shift referencing, “the potent interplay between intestinal microbes and the brain, describing how the microbiome develops from birth and evolves based on lifestyle choices, how it can become ‘sick’ and how nurturing gut health through a few easy strategies can alter your brain’s destiny for the better .’’
Eating cleanly and healthily goes alongside yoga practice. Since my yoga detox in Mysore I have continued cutting out refined sugar, alcohol and meat. I feel much better for this.
CASE STUDY EVIDENCE
The best way to evidence the impact of my healing process would be my biannual visit to my neurologist. Every 6 months I have a checkup with Dr Tyagi, who has been my consistent neurologist for 3 years. He has tracked my disease progression carefully throughout
This was my first visit since Mysore and after I adopted a strict yoga regime at home.
As my friend drove me to the hospital, I waited for the usual emotions developing. Going for my neurology appointment, I usually felt very alone. It was a stark reminder of my marital split, but today I didn’t crave that toxic attachment and was pleased to have my friend by my side. The lessons on attachment had affected my thinking about relationships, Also I noticed that the anxieties which I endured, anticipating what Dr Tyagi might decide, didn’t arise. I was now more present in the ‘now’ rather than worrying about something that hadn’t happened, A more yogic reaction!
When we were called for my appointment, Dr Tyagi, came to greet us. He did this, in order to naturally watch for any gait or balance changes. I was aware I was walking towards him more slowly, but much more confidently than before. The advice on doing mindful walking was having a positive effect on my natural walking ability. Dr Tyagi immediately noticed my elevated mood and weight loss. He listened attentively to my trip and the benefits of a very consistent yoga practice for a person with Parkinson’s Disease. I informed him of my detox routine and he mentioned a recent article, on the importance of gut health and its impact on brain health.
He was amazed when I told him I could hold so many positions for extended time spells. He said it was like having a different patient in front of him! I felt very different. I felt more energised. Fatigue and PD can go together but this aspect of my condition seemed to be responding to my intense yoga practice. My practice had extended from 15 to 90 minutes and was supplying me with improved energy levels. Dr Tyagi then turned to my friend, to ask her if she had noticed changes. She said she noticed an enormous difference in my strength., flexibility and balance. In line with his own comments about my mood; she thought my facial animation was much better than before saying that the Parkinson’s masking seemed to have lifted.
I was beaming when Dr Tyagi brought me back to reality by mentioning medication. When I’d previously come for my check-up, my medication had doubled. However, this time, Dr Tyagi smiled warmly and said he was pleased I’d stopped my anti-depressants and he would be leaving my drugs unchanged! This felt like a victory. My enlightened neurologist said; ‘There is more to this than medication’. It felt great to hear those words, coming from my own doctor.
When I left my neurologist’s room, I would normally have been clutching soggy tissues feeling I was experiencing the disease’s inevitable progression. I left with my best friend high-fiving me out of the hospital to some very odd looks. I emerged to the cold Scottish sunshine with a renewed sense of hope.
Angela spent some time studying Yoga in Mysore with Yogacharya Ventakesha & Acharya Hema who run the Atmavikasa Center of Yogic Sciences.