Written by Harry Cline
Self-care is crucial for preventing caregivers from getting burned out, but it can also add quality to your senior family member’s life. Finding the time for that self-care can be a challenge, but you only need small steps to make a major difference in your mental health. If you only have the time and energy for one self-care habit, you should use these tips to add a stress-relieving combination of meditation and yoga to your daily routine.
Mind-Body Benefits of Yoga and Meditation
The wonderful thing about yoga, especially when paired with meditation, is that it offers a host of physical and mental benefits to practitioners because of how it fosters the mind-body connection. For example, people may notice improved gut health when they start a yoga practice. The physical activity and stress-busting techniques of yoga foster a more balanced belly microbiome, which can result in benefits like a more regular bathroom schedule and better mental clarity. Similarly, yogis may experience better dental health. The practice requires you to focus on how you’re manifesting stress and tension in your body, which is often a clenched jaw or mental fog that prevents you from practicing healthy oral habits. Being aware that you clench your teeth when you’re feeling overwhelmed allows you to take a moment to relax any time you feel yourself getting anxious, resulting in improved dental health and a mood boost that encourages you to practice other self-care acts, like brushing your teeth.
Set Up Your Own Space for Relaxation and Practice
As you begin yoga and meditation, consider setting up an area in your home to make it easier to stick to your new habits. You don’t need a lot of extra room to make a difference. All you need is an area big enough for you both to comfortably stretch out and relax into your routines. Adding little touches, such as candles and cushions, will add to the ambiance of your new wellness corner and also make you want to spend more time in it.
Go to a Class Together
If you can make it to a yoga or meditation class, you can get a better understanding of how to practice these habits. You can expect to pay $10 to $30 on average for a drop-in class, but you might be able to gain financial assistance depending on your senior loved one’s health insurance. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage for yoga classes. Go online to learn more about these plans. Keep in mind that this coverage is not offered by basic Medicare.
Honor the History of These Relaxing Self-Care Practices
Most people know that yoga and meditation are good for stress relief. That’s what makes these holistic rituals so beneficial for seniors and their caregivers. Practicing the mindful breathing that is so integral to these habits is what helps your brain and body respond more positively to stress. This is why yoga and meditation are finding their place in the treatment of physical and mental health issues. However, what many newcomers to meditation and yoga don’t know is the history behind these effective techniques. Studying the history of yoga can give you even more powerful insight into practicing mindfulness in all areas of your life. Plus, many feel comforted by the positive messages in these texts, which can help deepen your practice.
Modify Your Poses If Needed, but Focus on Breathing
It can be intimidating to start a yoga practice when you’ve seen photos and videos of people in advanced, perfect-looking poses. Striving for perfection, however, goes against the true intent of a yoga practice. Instead, look for modifications that allow you to practice in your own way. Know that your feet may never rest flat on the ground during downward dog, or that you may need a bolster or blanket for seated positions. There’s nothing wrong with modifying even the simplest of poses, especially for seniors with mobility issues, so long as you are not taking attention away from your breathing. Controlling your breath is a fundamental element of yoga and meditation, and can also help you stay calm in tense situations.
Use Online Tools to Begin and Deepen Your Practices
Attending yoga and meditation classes allows you to feed off the positive vibes of others, and it also gives you more personal instruction from experienced teachers. It’s also understandable that seniors and caregivers may not be able to leave their homes as often as needed, but luckily, there are plenty of online yoga resources that can give you pointers on poses, your breathing, and the various types of yoga. In addition to online yoga videos and tutorials, there are also quite a few visual meditation tools available. These guided meditations are a good way for seniors and caregivers to feel comfortable when starting their own daily practice.
When you are caring for a senior loved one, it can be easy to forget to care for yourself as well. However, yoga and meditation can bring peace and balance to both of your lives. Take a few minutes each day to be mindful and to stretch those tensions away.
Harry Cline is a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, so he knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He is the creator of NewCaregiver.org.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
So, I broke a toe as summer was ending. And this little piggy has been slow healing. My podiatrist outfitted me with some killer soft shoe fashion footwear - the kind you won’t see on the Paris runways. 😂
Lucky for me, I’m not the kind of woman dying to get back into a pair of heels. What I am is a woman learning to be more patient because “Why is this not healed already???” 🤷🏾♀️ and “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Looking for the lesson in the moment, I’ve used this opportunity to dive deeper into my study and practice of energy healing modalities which I’ve neglected for too long. The Universe never fails to remind us of what’s important when we get off track, now does it? 😊
In this experience of limping, hobbling and healing, I’ve also learned to pay even greater attention to how my body feels and how it moves. I’ve noticed how an uneven gait disrupts the comfort in my hips and lower back, and how the muscles in my legs, hips and glutes compensate for the lack of flexion in my toes. 👣
One thing I love about yoga is that it teaches us to be more aware of our bodies. And this awareness allows us to better care for our bodies and to be more present in the moment which brings greater peace, joy and contentment into our lives.
So, how is your body feeling today? Is it tight, sore, painful? Could it use more care, energy, relaxation or pain relief? Yoga can help provide all these things and more. And now is the perfect time to treat yourself to better health!
If you want ideas on how you can incorporate yoga and meditation into your life before the next year (and decade) roll around, email us through the "contact" page. Together, we'll usher in a healthier new year and a happier you!
Lots of Love,
Here it is fall again. By the end of summer, I'm usually ready for the slowing down that autumn brings. But, not this year. This year, I'm gearing up to grow and expand as the days grow shorter and cooler.
I recently read a number of articles on how to get the most out of the rest of the year, revitalize those most important New Year's Resolutions and plan for 2020. Well, I'm all about it.
No, I didn't reach some of the goals I planned for 2019. But I'm not giving up. I'm ready to get to work, to grow and expand. And yoga is my super boost to help me along the journey.
You see, yoga requires perseverance, determination, courage and commitment. It's the perfect practice to help us elevate in all areas of our lives because a consistent yoga practice and yogic lifestyle eventually affects every part of our lives.
So, go ahead and strike a tree pose and rise high. Grow, expand. Reach for the stars. You can do it!
Love and Hugs,
The path to success is hardly ever straight. Be willing and ready to make a shift, while finding joy in the journey.
If you're like me, you're full of ideas, but usually feel short on time, energy or resources to launch all those big ideas. It's true that we can't do everything. But it's also true that we are capable of accomplishing extraordinary things. And sometimes all we need is a little extra boost to move in the right direction.
Yoga is my boost. Through yoga, we can realize that our limitations are formed only in our minds. When we begin to train our minds to exchange the thoughts of "I can't" into the thoughts of "I can," we open a whole new world of possibilities for ourselves and others.
Whatever you want to begin or create; however you want to change your life -- make up your mind to start now. Believe that you can.
Bringing your ideas into fruition is possible and most likely a whole lot simpler and easier than sending a rocket into space. And if we can send rockets to space and men to the moon than you certainly can make your dream come true right here on Earth.
So get the faith and get busy. And launch now! The world is ready for your genius.
Lots of Love,
Summer's here; and I'm so giddy in the spirit that my inner child is turning flips.
I don't know about you but the excitement of summer makes me dream bigger and feel like I can fly even higher. I'm taking advantage of all this extra sunlight and energy. So I've got big plans for the summer. How about you?
I'm big on productivity. The more I get done in a day, the more I feel like a rock star. Sure, there are far more important things in life than crossing off items on the never-ending to-do list, but getting through my daily list is always a high priority.
Yesterday, I was fully focused on meeting a deadline I had set for a project. At 5pm, I was close to finishing, but still much further behind than I wanted to be at that hour. I thought, "Why can't I get through this faster? I need this done already." Recognizing my growing impatience with finishing the project, I realized I needed to step away from it for a moment to relax, take a breath and regain my joy for what I was doing.
So I headed to the kitchen for a break and a delicious cup of peppermint tea. As the water began to boil, I pulled out a tea bag and took notice of the quote hanging from the string. It was a quote from Lao Tzu that read: "Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." I smiled. So very timely and exactly what I needed.
I sat and quietly enjoyed my tea, thinking about the truth of those wise words. Who am I to rush anything? Everything has its own divine timing; and over that I have no control. We are simply here to play our parts, doing what we can when we can to the best of our ability. Knowing this, we can live at greater ease despite the myriad demands of our lives.
After my tea and lesson from Lao Tzu, I went back to work with a more relaxed and clearer mind. Six hours later, I met my deadline - calmly, peacefully and without hurry just as nature intended it.
The recent synagogue shooting in San Diego, burning of African-American churches in Louisiana, slaying of Christians in Sri Lanka and mass shootings in mosques in New Zealand are heartbreaking reflections of ignorance and hate. Our houses of worship should be places of love, community and devotion where all can feel safe. Instead, the rise of hate crimes and terrorism leaves many feeling unsafe and on edge, wondering whether to bow heads in prayer with one eye open.
No matter what house of worship you attend or don't attend, let's support each other with love and eradicate the ignorance that leads to hate through our loving thoughts, words and deeds. No matter how long the struggle, love will eventually topple hate.
We are one. One race. One Love.
The days are finally getting longer, warmer and sunnier. Our long, patient wait is over. Spring time is finally here! As one with a preference for warmer weather, I couldn't be happier about it.
When spring hits, my mind begins to buzz with possibilities. It seems to be the beginning of the time to go, to do, to get it done, to restart or to begin. Life is beginning to surface again and it makes me feel like living to the fullest. I've got a long, exciting list of things to do and enjoy this season.
What about you? How will you make your life more vibrant this spring?
We fit into the rhythm of the universe. Little is in our control. Even the big, bright star that makes our lives possible cannot control its own ending. So let us release worry and anxiety as much as we can and find peace in strong, steady minds of equanimity throughout the ceaseless fluctuations of life.
Today, let's meditate.
Anietie blogs about what moves her which is usually yoga, the arts and love.