The mind-body connection most of us think of: If my mind thinks of something my body needs to do, my body will do it. With yoga the other direction can be supported--in other words, the body can send info back to the mind and it'll be addressed. That's in the perfect world...
There're other kinds of mind-body connections. More accurately, fractured connections. June is the Awareness Month for ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease. In ALS the neural connections are destroyed, eventually, and essentially, severing control over muscle movements in the body. A degenerative, non-curable disease ALS leads to paralysis and death. Lou Gehrig was the first public face of the disease; currently physicist Stephen Hawking's probably the most well-known.
Whereas the body of an ALS patient is impacted, Alzheimer's Disease impacts an individual's brain. Alzheimer's Disease also is a progressive, degenerative disease that has no cure. Memory loss is an early sign, but eventually Alzheimer's individuals lose their ability to function and attend to daily life duties. Alzheimer's Disease is more prevalent and though, not a normal condition of aging, the risk rises with age.
I've seen both ALS and Alzheimer's affect families. The only word for it is tragedy--to be robbed of one's independence, of self. The stress and heartache family members endure takes its toll. It is not uncommon for caregivers to suffer health problems related to the constant need for their loved one. There IS help available though and its vital caregivers take time for themselves.
Though nothing can stop the downward spiral of ALS or Alzheimer's, can that other mind-body connection, ie YOGA, help? In a moving series, professor Bruce Kramer has documented life following his ALS diagnosis. He found able-body practitioners aren't the only ones that benefit from yoga. I highly recommend you read his account in its entirety, but specifically Part XII: Yoga reconnects a patients disconnected body. Engaging mentally is the focus of yoga for Alzheimer's individuals. Chair yoga provides a safe method. Many incorrectly equate yoga with asana. The yoga ALS and Alzheimer's practice can be much deeper than first glance may suggest.
Though the cause of ALS and Alzheimer's isn't known just yet there are theories. Environmental issues as well as occupational choices have come under scrutiny. None of us knows the future, being healthy shouldn't be taken for granted...practice yoga, practice gratitude.
Health, Wellness & CURES!!