pd-lab-2Last Friday I had the privilege of co-teaching the Parkinson’s Disease Movement Lab with Pamela Quinn at the Mark Morrison Dance Center in Brooklyn.

I shared the centering exercises from Ki-Aikido and we explored how an awareness of moving from center stabilizes balance. Participants were immediately able to make the connection as they experienced a marked improvement in their postural stability – whether sitting, standing, or walking across a room.

We also played with the effect of centering on speech which, like balance, can be undermined in Parkinson’s. It’s a more difficult exercise to master quickly, but for many in the room their was an immediate change in the strength and confidence of their vocal expression.

The powerful impact of centering for participants on both balance and speech reminded me of the importance of understanding how and why the focusing technique works. A better understanding means greater use of the tool where it matters most. Fortunately, research begins to emerge that reveals the fundamental interconnection of balance processing in the brain with activity of mind as well as with speech and emotion.

To learn more about some of the research that’s providing answers, check out my talk at TEDx Mile High – A Question of Balance: The convergence of movement, mind, and feeling on the vestibular trail.