Postural collapse and asymmetric contraction of postural muscles is a common characteristic and symptom of Dystonia. In this post we will describe a series of stretching exercises and Yoga stances (commonly called Asanas) that are helpful to carry out a postural rehabitlitation and help in the treatment of Dystonia.
This daily guide to Yoga practice is designed for people with dystonia, muscle imbalance, rigidity, and spasms due to such causes as Parkinson’s, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. The focus is on rebuilding strength and flexibility as well as physical and emotional balance.
Yoga for Movement Disorders
Yoga is a mind and body practice with historical origins in ancient Indian philosophy. Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.
Yoga has become popular as a form of physical exercise based upon asanas (physical poses) to promote improved control of mind and body and to enhance well-being.
We chose to refer to the exercises we describe in this post as “Yoga” rather than simply “stretching exercises” to highlight the fact that they should be carried out in a relaxed and relaxing way, paying attention to breething and trying to calm down the mental dialogue.
Modify the postures for your body
The instructions and pictures of the yoga postures are the “goal,” meaning the direction you are going towards, not where you need to be. Experiment and explore different positions and alignment to make the posture work for your body.
Moderate the level of intensity
You can make your yoga practice as challenging and vigorous as you want. We recommend you start slowly and make sure you understand the alignment of postures.
How to choose postures
Choose to practice postures that look like you can do them. Postures done on the floor are going to be easier than standing postures, as they do not require as much strength or balance. Also, postures that have longer recommended hold times (in breaths) are going to be easier to do. Use the yoga posture sequences suggested in this post as a starting point and foundation for your practice sequence.
Duration of practice
Your daily practice should be between 15 to 60 minutes long and done 1-6 times per week, depending on your schedule, goals and ability. Practicing more frequently with shorter practice times will yield greater results that practicing less frequently with longer practice times.
What to wear
Loose, comfortable clothing or tights / unitards work best. Its important to wear something that will not restrict your movement.
Drinking and eating
It is not advisable to eat or drink right before a yoga practice. Eat no less than 1-3 hours before and drink only small amounts of water before practice, and do not drink during your practice if possible.
Don’t forget to breathe normally, and make sure you feel no pain. Hold each position for 10 to 30 seconds.
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Take a long step position with your left foot in front, and bend your front knee at an angle of 90 degrees. Take your right foot from behind, and pull it to your pelvis with your hand. Then switch legs. Muscles involved: Psoas, iliacus, quadratus lumborum, and piriformis.
Sit down on the floor, and keep your legs straight and together. With your legs pressed to the floor, slowly bend your upper body forward. Muscles involved: Posterior muscles, hamstrings and calves.
SITTING PIGEON POSE
Sit down on the floor. Place your right hand behind your back. Put your right foot slightly above your left knee, and keep it there with your free hand. Repeat with your left leg. Muscles involved: Anterior tibial muscle.
Sit down on the floor. Straighten your back. Slowly pull your leg to your chest by turning your hip outward. Repeat with the other leg. Muscles involved: Glutes.
In a sitting position, place your feet together, and bend your knees. Keep your back straight. Carefully push your knees down with your hands, trying to reach the floor. Important: if you want to intensify the stretch, move your heels to your body as much as possible. Muscles involved: Adductors.
LEAN FORWARD ON ONE LEG
Straighten up, and place one foot ahead of the other. Keep your back straight. Put your hands on your hips, and bend your upper body forward. Repeat the exercise with your other foot in front.. Muscles involved: Posterior muscles and hamstrings.
Straighten up, and slowly bend your upper body to the right. Repeat the exercise to the other side. Muscles involved: Abdominal external oblique muscles and lats.
Lie down on the floor. Bend your right knee, and move your leg to the left across your body. Press slightly with your hand to intensify the stretch. Repeat with your other leg. Muscles involved: Glutes and abdominal external oblique muscles.
DOWNWARD FACING DOG AGAINST THE WALL
Stand against the wall, and make sure that the distance is enough to keep your upper body parallel to the floor. Take the position shown in the picture, and then slightly stretch your chest down. Muscles involved: Pectoral muscles and lats.
Straighten up with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders. Extend your arms to the sides. Your right foot looks outward, and your left foot is turned at 90 degrees to your upper body. Put your right hand on your right shin, and, by keeping your back straight, raise your other arm. At the same time, move your pelvis backward and down. Repeat the exercise on the other side Muscles involved: Abdominal external oblique muscles.
BACK OF THE NECK STRETCHING
Take a standing position with your legs together. Slowly push your hips backward, and, with the help of your hands, bend your head forward. Try to touch your chest with your chin. Muscles involved: Traps.
SHOULDER SIDE STRETCHING
Straighten your arm across your body, and slightly press it with your other hand to intensify the stretch. Repeat the exercise with your other arm. Muscles involved: Side delts.
PELVIC MUSCLES STRETCHING
Sit down on the floor, and stretch your legs widely. Don’t bend your knees, and keep your legs on the floor. Bend forward by sliding your arms over your shins, and pull your upper body after them. Muscles involved:Adductor muscles and hamstrings.
PECTORAL MUSCLES STRETCHING
Straighten up with your face to the wall. Put your hand on the wall, and slowly turn away from it. Repeat with the other hand. Muscles involved: Pectoral muscles and lats.
Sit down on your heels, place your hands behind your back, and push your hips forward and upward. Don’t overstrain your lower back. Muscles involved: Abdominal and abdominal external oblique muscles.
Get down on all fours, and slowly move your hips backward, trying to touch the floor with your forehead. Muscles involved: Lats.
NECK SIDE MUSCLES STRETCHING
Take a sitting position, straighten your back, and, with the help of your left hand, bend your head to the left. Try to touch your shoulder with your ear. Repeat the exercise in the other direction. Muscles involved: Sternocleidomastoid muscle and upper trapezius.
NECK FRONT MUSCLES STRETCHING
Put your hands on your hips, straighten your back, and carefully start bending your head backward. If you want to make the stretch more intensive, you can put your hands on your forehead and carefully pull down. Muscles involved: Sternocleidomastoid muscle.