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Parkinson’s Disease: Mindfulness Yoga and Stretching To Reduce Anxiety and Depression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Jojo Kwok  R.N., BN(Hons), MPH, Ph.D.
School of Nursing, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
The University of Hong Kong

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Before the study, we knew that mind-body exercises such as yoga and stretching improves the physical health of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), however the benefits to their mental health was not known. This study concludes that mindfulness yoga alleviates psychological distress, improves spiritual well-being and quality of life, not to mention motor symptoms and mobility. When it comes to managing the stress and symptoms of Parkinson Disease, what is exciting, is that yoga has now been proven to be a better strategy than just stretching.

Yoga draws together body, mind and spirit through mindful practice of

1) yoga posture,
2) breathing and
3) meditation.

These form the three core components of our Mindfulness Yoga Program. Mindfulness is non-judgemental awareness of the present moment – of one’s physical sensations and thoughts, be they positive or negative.

By adopting a mind-body approach, patients are much better positioned to reframe their illness journey than through physical training alone. By learning to relate non-judgmentally to their physical symptoms and emotions, they develop new coping skills that cultivate openness, acceptance and resilience to these symptoms. They feel better. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: In this study, we recommend all three core components of the Program. These are:
1) dynamic Hatha sequences like sun salutations, modified for patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s Disease
2) breathing exercises, and
3) mindfulness meditation.

The Hatha movements are challenging but safe. Indeed, numerous patients surprised themselves doing movements they thought impossible, boosting their mobility and confidence.

For those patients unable to do the dynamic Hatha, we suggest simple exercises like stretching, together with breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research should continue to test the implementation of the mindfulness-based yoga program in the community, in particular, its long-term benefits and cost-effectiveness analysis.


Kwok JYY, Kwan JCY, Auyeung M, et al. Effects of Mindfulness Yoga vs Stretching and Resistance Training Exercises on Anxiety and Depression for People With Parkinson Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Neurol. Published online April 08, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.0534

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Last Updated on April 10, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD