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Pink Ribbon Yoga is for Caregivers, Too

By Cheryl Ellis, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 3)

There are few yoga classes in which an instructor will say “Give your toes some gratitude,” however, this phrase is heard often, and directed toward every body part.  Becker reminds her students that simple awareness of how one is feeling at the moment helps the individual set limitations in and out of yoga class. 
Support persons’ physical responsibilities create tiredness.  Overtaxing of the body with chores without a component to refurbish tired muscles causes tightness of body and mind. 
The body holds unconscious feelings, good and bad, which yoga stretches and breathing can help release.  The pain in a caregiver’s neck may be literal and a metaphor.  When learning gratitude and awareness of how the body moves and sets everyday limits for an individual, caregivers can begin to focus on how they are feeling in the moment, as well as how much is too much.
Since the focus of most illness is upon the individual undergoing the health challenge, caregivers may inadvertently change into caretakers, doing what is necessary but gaining no benefit from what started out as a loving exchange.  Yoga changes this by creating body awareness which evolves into an ability to become aware of one's feelings and mental stresses.  It also gives the individual a method by which to defuse these stresses.
Simple movements such as the gentle rolling of wrists, pointing and flexing feet, and self massage can be done by caregivers and loved ones of many physical levels.  When the day is at its end and both caregiver and loved one are spent by the demands of the illness, one or the other can say “Let’s do a couple of poses.”
Because loved ones and caregivers have other obligations, such as doctor’s appointments, classes are drop-in and casual.  Becker attempts to give enough information in each class to inform newcomers and the student who is only able to attend occasionally.  Learning one or two poses can help the individual have an at home respite, without the demands of a fully memorized program.  “If you’re present in the moment, and aware of your breathing, that’s yoga” is Becker’s affirmation. 
In the world of caregivers, support, society, and self-awareness make up the triad that is the foundation for healthy caregiving.  Programs like Pink Ribbon Yoga, and providers such as Corey Becker, RN, strive to provide a way for caregivers to build a lasting foundation.
Yoga Surprises for Caregivers
Anytime we are focused on our breath and movement, shutting out the noise of the mind (or at least trying to), we are performing yoga.  These two simple poses can help caregivers mend at the end of the day, or can be done at day’s start to recharge.


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