• Getting Started with Yoga and Meditation

    Getting Started with Yoga and Meditation

     

    Yoga and meditation each provide phenomenal support to overall well-being at any age. For seniors in particular, yoga is a low-impact exercise that has the added benefits of aiding flexibility and balance while encouraging healthy lifestyles. Mindfulness, either through yoga practice or during meditation, provides another layer of support to mental, emotional and physical health. It’s never too late to get started with yoga and meditation. Here are some tips to start your journey to self-knowledge and flexibility.

     

    Yoga can target ailments common as we age

     

    Joint pain and arthritis are common among seniors. Yoga helps alleviate these conditions, because yoga isn’t just an exercise - it is a practice. The practice of yoga encourages mindfulness that extends beyond the poses into the life of the person who is doing the exercises. Yoga’s mindfulness adds a stream of positivity throughout one’s life. Those who practice yoga tend to follow healthier diets, and incorporate additional exercises into their daily routines. 

     

    Yoga can be done almost anywhere

     

    Starting a new exercise regimen like yoga may bring to mind difficult classes and time and financial commitments. Many yoga poses are simple and can be done right where you stand. Chair yoga even brings parts of yoga practice to anyone with balance concerns. A perfect way to slowly introduce your body to the practice, chair yoga has many of the benefits of traditional yoga. It helps reduce stress and alleviate pain and fatigue. Some chair yoga poses include:

    • Seated mountain, which activates your core.
    • Warrior I, which reinforces good posture while reaching for the ceiling.
    • Seated forward bend, a pose that introduces light bending into core-strengthening movements.
    • Reverse arm hold, which is a routine part of traditional practice that develops upper arm flexibility and supports shoulder health.

     

    Not all yoga poses twist your body into pretzel shapes

     

    Many traditional yoga poses are more about stability, breathing and posture, and less about getting all tied up in a contortionist’s knot. Beginner poses focus on light stretching and serene comfort. The following are perfect beginner moves:

    • Standing mountain pose.
    • Child’s pose. This basic pose resembles sitting on the floor while bowing your body and arms forward, as in a prayer.
    • Warrior II. Similar to the seated Warrior I pose, this movement develops balance by having you turn sideways while stretching your arms out - one in front and the other pointing backwards.
    • Tree pose. A little more advanced, as it has you lift one of your legs off the ground, tree pose is the ultimate beginner’s movement for balance and posture.

     

    Yoga can be done at home

     

    Although the practice of yoga can be done in a chair or just with a little floorspace, as you advance through practice, you may find that you prefer a little more room to flex, move and try new poses. As far as exercises go, yoga requires only a small investment in equipment, so it’s easy and affordable to create a simple home yoga studio.

     

    The most important thing to remember is that yoga requires calmness. In our busy lives, serenity may be hard to come by. Wherever you choose to locate your home yoga studio, make sure it is a quiet and clutter-free space. When decorating, think minimalism and light colors. Natural light is helpful, as are some other natural elements such as a plant or a small fountain.

     

    Done right, your yoga space can double as a meditation room, where you’ll be able to benefit from mindfulness even when you are not planning on doing any yoga moves. Beyond the physical and stress-reducing effects of yoga, meditation is highly beneficial to seniors in areas of mental health, including strengthening cognition.

     

    Yoga and meditation help older adults thrive physically and mentally. Both encourage healthy living in a sustainable, unobtrusive way that fits well with any senior’s lifestyle.

     

    Harry Cline | info@newcaregiver.org

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  • The Mental Health Benefits of Self-Care

    The Mental Health Benefits of Self-Care

     

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    In 2014, a report found that American workers are “insecure, underpaid, highly stressed, and generally unhappy at work.” This state of affairs may be a clue as to why illnesses and mental health issues seem to be on the rise.

     

    While you must make enough money to pay your bills, you also must make time for self-care. In fact, neglecting self-care can make you sick. That can cost you – and, according to The Society for Human Resource Management, your employer – in productivity, good decision-making, and effective work. 

     

    Proper self-care can produce:

     

    • Lower stress levels.
    • Increased self-confidence.
    • Improved brain function.
    • More productivity.
    • Better immunity – and, therefore, fewer sick days.

     

    Tried and true methods of self-care include eating healthy, exercise, quitting bad habits, and avoiding overindulgence. However, there are some practices you may have overlooked.

     

     Self-Care Practices You May Be Missing

     

    These practices are necessary to maintaining good mental health.

     

    Getting enough sleep.


    We’ve often been told that most adults need 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Unfortunately, that’s not accurate. The National Sleep Foundation recently studied sleep times. They found that most adults between the ages of 18 and 64 require 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Where you lie on that spectrum depends on your body. You probably already know if you are sleeping 6 hours (or less) a night but your body and brain need 8. It’s time to get to bed earlier.
     

    Relaxation time.


    Another self-care practice many people overlook is relaxation. Doesn’t sleep count? You might need additional relaxation time to manage an overload of stress. If you’re struggling to make decisions, settle your brain down at night, are often anxious, and can’t seem to “catch your breath” during your day, relaxation time can help you cope.

     

    Use one of these techniques a few minutes a day:

     

    • Hot bath with Epsom salts. 
    • Deep breathing exercises.
    • Journaling. This is very effective early in the morning to clear your mind.
    • Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). This is a technique that helps you relax tensed muscles. Learn how in this article from Guide To Psychology.

     

    Saying “no.”

     

    We live in a world where we feel guilty whenever we say “no.” The truth is we can’t do everything. We have to pick our priorities on the basis of who and what is important to us. It’s time to learn to say no to things that will bog us down. Learn how from this guide at Personal Excellence.

     

    Stress reduction.

    While all the habits above can help, stress is one of the most pressing issues in modern life. Unchecked, it can contribute to sickness, stroke, and heart disease. These techniques can help reduce stress:

     

    • Stress-busting foods.
      Reduce caffeine and fill up on foods that reduce stress, such as nuts and seeds, spinach, and salmon.
    • Walk in nature.
      Nature has a calming and healthy effect on the mind and body.
    • Aromatherapy.
      Calming essential oils, such as lavender, in a diffuser can help.

     

    Learn more ways to relieve stress from Very Well Mind.

     

    For People In Addiction Recovery

     

    It’s also helpful for people in addiction recovery programs to maintain self-care habits. Here are some tips:

     

    • Pick up a new hobby.
      Learning a new skill, like playing an instrument or gourmet cooking, can provide purpose, structure, and engagement in your down time to keep you occupied. As you improve, you’ll build confidence.
    • Meditation and yoga.
      These practices balance your cortisol levels, which reduces stress and allows your body and mind to heal. 

     

    In today’s world, self-care is underrated but it is just as important to creating a successful life as recovery from stress, illness, or addiction. Take the time today to integrate these practices into your life. You’ll be glad you did.

     

    Bio of the author:

    Brad Krause graduated from college in 2010 and went straight to the corporate world at the headquarters of a popular retail company. But what started as a dream job soured quickly. After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling-helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing. He created SelfCaring.info to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he finds on his self-care journey.