Maybe you’re tired of hearing, “Make sure you take care of yourself, too.” As a caregiver for an aging loved one, you hear it so often—it begins to lose its meaning, or it just becomes something else to take up space on your list. How? As you’re juggling all the responsibilities of direct caregiving, housekeeping, perhaps managing the older adult’s finances and other affairs, and the demands of your own home and family life, how are you supposed to prioritize “me time”? Part of the beauty of practicing yoga is that it can address a lot of different issues at once, especially if you combine physical and mental exercises together.
Not all caregivers experience the same joys and challenges, but one thing is likely common among us: the need and the desire for balance. That means balance in our personal and independent lives, balance in our experiences as caregivers, and healthy balance between those two parts of our days and our identities. There is no one tool or solution for achieving all-around balance—it takes a comprehensive strategy to avoid burnout—but yoga for caregivers can certainly be counted as a powerful force for peace and positivity amidst the challenges.
Benefits of Yoga for Caregivers
Yoga itself is a multi-faceted approach to balancing your physical, mental, emotional, and energetic well-being. Of course, your health in all of those areas is the foundation for strength and success in your personal and professional lives. Yoga for caregivers can be thoughtfully arranged to nurture our needs and prevent our common experience of burnout. You can actively care for yourself with yoga by:
- Relieving stress and tension
- Getting in touch with your body and your own needs
- Finding a source of empowerment
With these vital goals in mind, we’ve designed a yoga practice and paired the poses with positive statements of affirmation to help align your movements and your thoughts simultaneously. This synchronicity will also help to soften and harmonize your breath. It will redirect your negative mood and thinking in more positive directions. This practice will energize you, revitalizing your capacity as a compassionate caregiver for another and as your own, most important caregiver.
Yoga for Caregivers Is Movement and Thought Together
The ancient poet Rumi left us with this advice: “Never give from the depths of your well but from your overflow.” His wisdom speaks of give and take. As caregivers, we can’t simply give—and give and give and give. We must fill ourselves up, and more, to have enough to give compassionately and unconditionally to the aging adults and others in our care.
We’ve developed a gentle yet dynamic yoga asana practice for caregivers, and you can listen to the audio recording to follow along. As you exercise and stretch your physical body, we encourage you to also engage your mind and your heart with these positive affirmations for centering and healing and filling yourself up enough to give some of that loving abundance away.
- My mind settles like the ripples on a pond.
- I am enough. I have enough. I give enough.
- I exist in this moment only. I listen and feel with my full attention and love.
- Connection is always within me when I slow to embrace it.
When all is in line and balanced, caregiving itself is a practice—rather than a burden or a job that begins to overwhelm your whole life. Let your small commitment to yoga every day inform your approach to caregiving, as a harmonious journey of small steps and positive intentions. In this way, your experience of caregiving doesn’t have to be demanding and draining—it may even begin to energize you, just as yoga can.
For caregiver support resources and more ideas of how to commit to your own care and well-being, visit our blog. Or contact us at Institute on Aging to find out how our programs can enrich your life and that of your aging loved one.
Guided Yoga Practice Music: “Relaxing,” BenSound.com