It wasn’t the sight of today’s movie stars trotting off to yoga classes taught by gurus, that got me into yoga. Most of those folks weren’t even born when I began my yoga journey back in the mid-70s.
I suffered from severe migraines. As a person who’d been born limber, I hadn’t considered it necessary to do much to stay that way, but I did think some poses in a book I received from a book club could possibly help my migraines. The moves were effortless for my young body, but I felt good when I did them. They didn’t cure my migraines, but I continued doing the poses just for that relaxed, “stretched out” feeling.
Throughout the years, I dropped the practice time and again. I was too busy. I didn’t need it. Whatever. Yet, I’d pick up the book from time to time, and relearn the moves - generally when I wasn’t feeling all that great, physically. My children, now grown, remember me doing yoga moves in the living room and warning them not to jump on me when I was in a pose, because they could hurt me.
I’ve followed yoga through the years, and cringed, at times, over its popularity. Being a bit contrary, I’ve kind of kept it a secret so people won’t think I’m trendy (not much chance of that). So, why am I telling you this bit of my history?
As I’ve aged, and fought arthritis - one of the family curses - I’ve found that dragging out the old routine has kept me limber, out of a lot of pain, and away from the chiropractor. These days, if I skip my fifteen-minute workout in the evening, I pay with discomfort as I sit for hours, at my computer, the next day. If I skip two nights - well, let’s say it’s not smart.
Over a year ago, I wrote about older people doing yoga in a post titled “Exercise for Boomers and Seniors,” based on, of all things, the program of a former professional wrestler. This guy has a good video and explains how the exercise helped him heal from injuries. This, folks, is as close to professional wrestling as I’ve ever gotten, but I found that these were very friendly people who believe in what they do, and I was glad I tried their program. I’ve adopted some of the moves from their program, but mostly I’ve stayed with my old routine. I’ll make a point here that none of this is religion based, for me. It’s simply a way to keep my body flexible and for me, it works.
What brought me to this subject on Our Alzheimer’s is a story on boston.com titled, "Breath, lives, memory: Yoga classes stretch mind, as well as body, of Alzheimer’s patients."
I picked up on this story via a wonderful newsletter titled “Alzheimer’s Daily News,” that you, too, can sign up for on www.agelessdesing.com. I’m often inspired by this newsletter, and/or led to new studies. You may want to give it a try.
The boston.com article is about a woman named Patrice Flesch who leads yoga classes for people with Alzheimer’s disease. I picked the following quote from the story to give you an idea of Flesch’s philosophy.
“Though variations of yoga have been used to relax the sick and frail, Flesch’s holistic approach is unique. She treats her students in a way that lends them grace, dignity, and a sense of control over a disease that can often make them feel powerless.”
The story was inspiring to me and also humbling. Why not? Yoga is good for the body. It requires people to focus on one pose at at time, so many people with Alzheimer’s can focus on the one move and realize they succeeded and accomplished something good for their bodies and good for their minds.
According to the article, those who have done yoga in the past often have memory flashes that bring a smile of recognition.
Again, this is exercise. This is something any of us can do for our bodies now, Alzheimer’s or not. But it’s also showing some promise that it could help people already coping with Alzheimer’s lead a better quality life. For details read the article on boston.com
Carol Bradley Bursack is a veteran family caregiver who spent more than two decades caring for a total of seven elders. She is a newspaper columnist and the author of Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. Bradley Bursack is also a contributor to several books on caregiving and dementia, and is passionate about preserving the dignity of elders. Her website is www.mindingourelders.com. Follow Carol on Twitter @mindingourelder and on Facebook at Minding Our Elders.