April 23, 2014 2:32 pm

Saskatoon yoga class caters to those with Parkinson’s disease

Watch above: Parkinson’s patients turn to yoga for treatment

SASKATOON – A group of Saskatoon Parkinson’s patients have taken to yoga in an effort to treat the disease they’ve been diagnosed with.

On a recent Monday afternoon, the group of yoga students followed the lead of their instructor, Adrienne Vangool, at One Yoga Studio near Broadway Avenue.

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Vangool has been teaching the movement disorder yoga class for over a year. She’s modified her regular class to be accessible for those with Parkinson’s disease.

“We just use props and chairs to bring the floor up to people and we change the pacing a little bit,” said Vangool, who is also a physiotherapist.

“It’s still challenging at times and it still is really the same structure as I’d teach a regular vinyasa class at the studio,” she added.

The Parkinson’s Society of Canada says exercise is important for those with the disease, because it maintains their physical and mental well-being.

“We know how important exercise is to anybody, but particularly to a Parkinson’s person,” said Randy Dittmar, a yoga student in Vangool’s class.

“It gives us the flexibility so our joints don’t get stiff,” he added.

The class also is a two-pronged attack in Vangool’s eyes; yoga is obviously a physically enduring exercise, but it also encompasses an ‘other’ that some may describe as spiritual or calming.

“The yoga system provides a really good coping strategy and can give confidence and find areas of success where you normally, maybe feel you’ve lost control of a lot of areas,” said Vangool.

Dittmar said Vangool challenges the class regularly by introducing new poses and positions to most sessions.

Another student, Malcolm Gilbert, said that he found most poses difficult, but claimed that the classes have helped him with his balance. Any pre-conceived notions of taking a yoga class have now disappeared as he now recommends the sessions to others with Parkinson’s.

“Don’t be afraid of it, don’t be upset about it, just come and do it,” said Gilbert, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease over a decade ago.

“It helps me tremendously; it gives me a great deal of stretching and flexibility and I enjoy the company here as well,” added Dittmar.

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