“You’re the gestapo, get out of my room!” With a sigh, I’d leave my granny angry after each day’s physical rehabilitation session, puzzled at her resistance to move her body. The sessions weren’t painful. She was regaining her strength and slowly walking after her hip replacement. She just truly disliked exercising, as well as having me tell her what to do. That was her job.
As a caregiver to my now 98 year old grandmother, who is an inspiration in persistence and a warning of challenges of old age, I am keenly aware of the need for total self care throughout one’s life. Grandma has been a spunky, vibrant senior until a few years ago. Remaining stoic through multiple surgeries while eating her steak and sweets, she seemed to defy old age. She was preparing to transition with a bang. However, her disregard for movement and exercise throughout her life made her rehabilitation after medical intervention extremely challenging. I was by her side making sure she got back up on her feet and regained her mobility after each procedure. Because she had no routine or history with exercise, these months were grueling.
If only she could have found some passion for movement earlier in her life. She watched me enjoy so many sports for years, and as I encouraged her to participate in easier activities with me like chair yoga and taichi, she kept choosing to remain a spectator.
Life is not a spectator sport.
Our wonderful bodies are our homes and we must take care of them. Exercise and movement is critical throughout out lives. Combined with healthy food, proper hydration, engaging work and leading a life of purpose, we can truly thrive and remain resilient into our later years. It takes discipline, self love and finding a set of physical activities that bring out the joy in us. Keep trying to find what you love. From dancing to the martial arts, from yoga to rock climbing, just keep moving.
After experiencing many movement modalities, yoga for me was clearly the winner. It’s the most adaptable, portable practice that one can have for any season of life, mood, stress load, energy level and time frame. Studies show that when practiced long term, yoga is superior to short term high intensity workouts. Many people try a fad workout only to quit because it’s too demanding or leads to injuries.
• Asanas (postures) in yoga improve the body on many levels. Asanas engage and benefit all systems and organs, improve circulation of blood and lymph, build endurance and resilience, train the brain, promote better sleep, increase flexibility, strength and balance, encourage detoxification and aid digestion.
• Yoga trains the breath. Most people have forgotten how to breathe properly, instead breathing shallowly, with the top portion of the lungs. Yogic deep breathing oxygenates the bloodstream and brain, relaxes the peripheral nervous system, charges up the lower power centers bringing extra energy and prana (lifeforce) into the body.
• Meditative aspects of yoga work magic on the mind. Meditation and focus increase sharpness and memory, ward off degenerative disorders of the brain, bring about inner peace and de-stress.
• The spiritual aspect of yoga offers the practitioner a way of merging with the Universe by dropping the ego self, attaining liberation and living in a state of love. Through the practice of yoga you are also taught to release negative thoughts, emotions, patterns and habits.
• Yoga integrates well with many disciplines and modalities. It has been fused with Pilates, found its way into martial arts schools, supplements routines of professional and amateur athletes, is used in psychotherapy, combines with new age healing arts, is used in warm ups and cool downs for many sports, treats PTSD, depression and anxiety. The uses and benefits are endless, making yoga one of the most powerful and flexible modalities that can be easily incorporated into any person’s life at any age.
How has yoga benefitted you or a loved one?