Parkinson's Sparkford Hall by


Parkinson's brings many challenges. Some of them are physical – tremors, muscle stiffness, a stooped posture. Other challenges include stress, depression, and impairment of cognitive function.

Clinical studies suggest yoga contributes improvements on the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), to reduce tremors and lower blood pressure.

Clinical studies suggest yoga practitioners with Parkinson’s have recorded modest improvements in functional mobility, balance, and lower limb strength. They have also recorded improved upper and lower body flexibility, quality of sleep, and improved mood. These results are what can make yoga a useful supplement in Parkinson's treatment.

What the clinical studies say

  • Improved mood
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Improved upper and lower body flexibility
  • Improvement in average forced vital capacity
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Modest improvements in balance
  • Modest improvements in functional mobility
  • Modest improvements in lower-limb strength
  • Significant improvement in the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS)
  • Symptom changes including immediate tremor reduction

The clinical studies

A randomized controlled pilot study of the therapeutic effects of yoga in people with Parkinson's disease
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness


Exercise can be beneficial for cardiopulmonary, musculoskeletal or neurological systems, and other factors including mood, and may be beneficial in reducing fall risks, dementia and variables associated with quality of life (QOL). Parkinson's disease (PD) produces progressive motor and cognitive deterioration that may leave those inflicted unable to participate in standard exercise programs. Alternative forms of exercise such as yoga may be successful in improving physical function, QOL and physiological variables for overall well-being.


This randomized controlled pilot study investigated the effectiveness of yoga intervention on physiological and health-related QOL measures in people with PD.

Methods and Materials:

Thirteen people with stage 1-2 PD were randomized to either a yoga (n = 8) or a control group (n = 5). The yoga group participated in twice-weekly yoga sessions for 12 weeks. Participants were tested at baseline, and at 6 and 12 weeks using the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), clinical measures of health-related QOL and physiological measures.


Significant improvement in UPDRS scores (P = .006), diastolic blood pressure (P = 0.036) and average forced vital capacity (P = 0.03) was noted in the yoga group over time. Changes between groups were also noted in two SF-36 subscales. Positive trends of improvement were noted in depression scores (P = 0.056), body weight (P = 0.056) and forced expiratory volume (P = 0.059). Yoga participants reported more positive symptom changes including immediate tremor reduction.


The results suggest that yoga may improve aspects of QOL and physiological functions in stages 1-2 PD. Future larger studies are needed to confirm and extend our findings of the effects of yoga in PD.


Neena K Sharma | Kristin Robbins | Kathleen Wagner | Yvonne M Colgrove


Volume / Issue

Author's primary institution

Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA
Applications of yoga in Parkinson's disease: a systematic literature review
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness


Yoga may be applicable to persons with Parkinson's disease (PD). The adaptability of yoga to suit varying abilities is of significance to the PD population with its progressive mobility problems. The additional psychosocial benefits of yoga are important to the quality of life. This systematic review presents scientific evidence pertaining to the impact of yoga on physical function and psychological well-being in PD.


A literature search was conducted for randomized controlled trials (n=1), pretest–post-test design (n=3), and case studies (n=3) with the terms “yoga” and “Parkinson disease”. The study quality was assessed with a modified version of the Downs and Black Checklist and ranged from 8 to 16. The study outcomes included functional mobility (n=6), flexibility (n=4), balance (n=4), strength (n=4), depression (n=2), sleep (n=1), and quality of life (n=1).


The preliminary data suggested that yoga resulted in modest improvements in functional mobility, balance, and lower-limb strength in persons with PD. This has implications for gait, postural stability, balance confidence, and functional declines related to inactivity. An improved upper- and lower-body flexibility following yoga in persons with PD is applicable to rigidity, shuffling gait, and flexed posture. The presented evidence also showed positive outcomes for mood and sleep, demonstrating yoga's benefit for self-efficacy and social support.


This review suggests that yoga provided an alternative method for addressing some of the reversible factors that impact motor function in PD, as well as contributing to an improved psychosocial well-being. However, limitations to the design of the studies necessitate further research to validate yoga as a therapy for PD.


Kaitlyn P Roland


Journal of Parkinsonism and Restless Legs Syndrome
Volume / Issue

Author's primary institution

Centre on Aging, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

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