An interview with Dawn Loftin on Yoga Therapy for PD on October 15, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.
Please tell me a little about your background.
A dear friend of mine suggested in 2000, I try yoga to relieve stress from corporate America. Eight years later I finished my 200-hour teacher training (TT) at Prana Yoga Miami. I continued to study with some of the most authentic teachers I could find to learn more about Tantra yoga, Restorative yoga, Ayurveda, meditation, and yoga Nidra. I completed my yoga therapy training in 2017.
Can you tell me more about your advocacy?
Currently I am on the faculty at AUM hOMe Shala. Melinda Atkin’s is continuously seeking and writing grants so the Shala may continue to offer classes to this underserved population. The Shala received a community grant and now the Shala has 4 classes per month via Zoom for Parkinson’s/neuromotor diseases and caregivers. Additionally, I teach gentle yoga for Parkinson’s at Lake Norman Muay Thai twice a month made possible through a grant from The Parkinson’s of the Carolina’s.
What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?
During the clinical module of my yoga therapy training at the Shala I worked with many people with different challenges. Melinda at the Shala wanted to create a yoga class for people with PD and we needed to create awareness and get people in the door to attend class. Melinda made me aware of Dr. Singer who was located at the University of Miami Department of Neurology. Because of my background in sales primarily with acute care and a short stint selling amino based peptide products I knew how to navigate the hospital and gatekeepers at the front desk. I looked up Dr. Singer on the Internet so I would know what he looked like, took a handful of flyers and off I went to find him. My timing was impeccable; because Dr. Singer and I arrived at the Department of Neurology, PD & Movement Disorder Center at the same time. We spoke for a brief moment, and he suggested I speak to George Dumenigo, LCSW Clinical Social Worker/Community Outreach Coordinator at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The following Saturday George brought several of his clients to the Shala for our first gentle yoga class for PD. This is where it all started for me.
What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when seeing your advocacy?
My students want better balance, mobility, strength, better posture, and calming of the mind.
What type of training and how long are the programs?
I completed my Clinical Yoga certification in February of 2017. I was working full time, so it took me ~ three years going to the Shala every weekend to complete all 3 modules.
What effect can your advocacy have on an individual with Parkinson’s?
Besides better balance, mobility, strength, better posture, and calming of the mind individuals are empowered and build self-confidence.
What would you like to see as a future goal for your advocacy?
I recently completed The ABC’s of Grant Writing and plan to take Grant Writing for Non-Profits in the near future. I would like to be able to help Melinda with the daunting task of finding and writing grants.
What events do you participate in?
When I lived in south Florida I was active in raising money for the National Parkinson’s Foundation’s Moving Day. I helped Melinda Atkins; founder of AUM hOMe Shala a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit raise money to help support programs for neuromotor diseases through participation in Give Miami Day. After moving to NC and becoming involved in Parkinson’s of the Carolina’s (PAC), I joined Aminta St. Onge’s Rooted Warriors to raise money through MoveIt! Walk.
How does your advocacy also assist caregivers?
The Shala had a one hour Zoom meeting hosted by Ghada Osman for care givers; part two will be 1/20/24.
How can someone get in touch? What is your website?
I can be reached at email@example.com, the Shala’s website is: https://aumhomeshala.org/
How can others also become advocates for awareness?
Get involved! Participate in Moving Day or MoveIt! Walk. Check out the National and regional Parkinson’s websites for more information.
If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?
Always remember the part of yourself that is unchanging, always peaceful, and always at rest.