Mindfulness-based movement sessions are individualized and customized sessions that incorporate mindfulness, yoga, as well as a variety of massage techniques and remedial exercise, to help restore natural, functional movement to individuals with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy, or Functional Movement Disorders. Depending on the condition, the itself treatment varies, as does the length and frequency.
Movement is active, conscious and engaged, thereby activating/utilizing different pathways to create new movement. Movements don’t have to be perfect or identical.
Together, we work on weight shifting, balance, coordination and proprioception. Over time, the movement is “grown” and expanded, and these mindful movements are put together into fuller, more natural movements.
Throughout these sessions, different parts of the brain are being accessed, and over time, new neural pathways are being created, teaching the brain a different way to accomplish a task. Occasionally, depending on the condition being dealt with, the therapist may try to create a new or different focus, or incorporate some degree of distraction, so as to not reinforce a dysfunctional movement/pattern (and thereby reinforce a dysfunctional pathway).
While studying these movements, things that might be contributing to or exacerbating the patient’s symptoms are identified(doing a postural assessment, testing muscle strength, length, and various other orthopedic tests, etc.), and addressed by the therapist, or a referral is made where appropriate. Often, a remedial exercise program is designed for the patient to do as homework to facilitate strengthening, or stretching, and which are also to be completed in a mindful manner.
If it’s accessible and available to the patient, part of the session is often completed on a mat down on all fours, working again on coordination, balance, proprioception, and weight shifting, all while building strength and stretching the body. Dance, as well as boxing, are often incorporated into these sessions. It’s not uncommon to use things such as parallel bars, an exercise ball, a massage table, various yoga props, or even a mat for working on all fours.
Yoga postures (seated or standing), breathing techniques and meditation practices (guided meditation while they are in restorative yoga postures) as well as other relaxation practices are also integrated throughout the sessions to help the patient cultivate practices that will help them not only physically, but also mentally.
Ensuring that patients are engaged, motivated, and enjoying the sessions (music is a big help) is important, as is their being are able to feel and see their progress. Encouragement and support throughout the process is a big component. Empowering patients, and in essence giving them the opportunity to be active participants in managing their condition, benefits them both in mind and body.
The sessions are as unique as the patients are. Each day may look a little bit different depending what is going on, but overall, we adhere to the original treatment plan.