Tag: yoga

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Boosting Caregiver Health With Yoga And Meditation

by Guest Blogger Harry Cline

Despite what you might believe, yoga’s growing popularity isn’t limited to the young. Older adults are increasingly turning to yoga and meditation to find relief from stress and pain and restore physical function. Yoga and meditation have proven especially valuable for family caregivers, who face physical and mental health challenges that far exceed the norm.

The Challenges of Caregiving

Health problems are often common among family caregivers. Informal caregivers frequently neglect their own health while caring for a loved one and face high levels of stress in their caregiving duties. Heightened stress is manageable in short spurts, but many caregivers stay in that role for several years. Self-neglect isn’t sustainable in the long-term, and mental and physical health problems frequently emerge. Statistics from the Family Caregiver Alliance show just how serious the caregiver health crisis is.


Caregiving is difficult for the person receiving care as well. Losing independence is painful, and many seniors struggle to cope with the change. This leads to depression, anxiety, and apathy in many chronically ill and disabled seniors. On top of the emotional strain, care recipients must cope with the physical symptoms of health conditions.

Why Yoga and Meditation?

Yoga and meditation are highly effective at relieving stress and require minimal resources to practice. This makes them ideal for seniors and caregivers facing high levels of mental strain but lacking a lot of money or time to spend. Individuals who practice yoga and meditation not only feel calmer while on the mat, but they also learn important coping mechanisms. Yoga also improves physical symptoms. Yoga builds strength, flexibility, and balance, and alleviates chronic pain. Yoga is especially beneficial for back pain and arthritis, Harvard Health reports.


Yoga and meditation have less obvious benefits too, especially for elderly practitioners. Yoga and meditation aid in the release of muscle tension, easing problems like teeth grinding and jaw clenching. This is important for older adults, who are more prone to pain and dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint. By relieving symptoms of stress and depression, yoga and meditation improve seniors’ executive function so they stay on top of self-care habits like dental hygiene.


Yoga and meditation benefit gut health as well. Researchers are still learning how gut health influences the body, but what they do know is this: Gut health affects more than digestion, influencing body systems as distant as the brain. On top of eating a healthy diet, regular exercise and stress management are some of the best ways to improve gut health — and a happy gut, in turn, promotes a sound mind.

Yoga and Meditation Tips for Beginners

Despite the many benefits, yoga and meditation are frequently absent from self-care routines. Caregivers and seniors may believe yoga and meditation are too difficult or simply be unfamiliar with the practice. However, these obstacles are easily overcome. These tips will help new practitioners get started in yoga and meditation.


  • Find a quiet place to practice. Yoga and meditation don’t require a lot of space to practice, but they do call for a distraction-free environment. Designate a room or corner for yoga, clearing out clutter and decorating with dim lighting, media for music and instructional videos, and yoga equipment.
  • Make it a daily practice. A few minutes of yoga or meditation set a positive tone for each day. Consistency is also the best way to form a habit.
  • Use props and adaptations. Balance and alignment are more important than completing a pose exactly as its shown in videos and books. Props and adaptive styles like chair yoga allow beginners and people with physical limitations to gradually increase their range of motion and avoid injury.
  • Remember to breathe. Breath control is central to both yoga and meditation and is key to reaping their stress-relieving benefits.


Many new practitioners choose to practice yoga and meditation at home, and that’s an excellent option, especially for seniors who are homebound. However, beginners to yoga and meditation benefit greatly from instruction.

Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.
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Mental Health Wellness

Welcome to my blog

My name is Diane Chrestman, and I am a mental-health counselor, with a private practice in Suwanee GA. I serve individuals and families who are suffering due to emotional and cognitive difficulties, trauma and complicated relationships. My intentions are for the comments, observations and ideas that are shared in this blog to move us all in the direction of peace, joy, and awareness.

Let’s take a look at the statistics

According to the Food and Drug Administration the number of people disabled by a mental health illness has doubled since 1987. In 2007, it is estimated that 1 in every 76 Americans suffers from a mental-health illness. Do we have a mental-health epidemic in our country, community, families? I think that we do.

Mental-health professionals have many different opinions as to the cause of this startling rise in mental health illnesses, and I will likely discuss some of the various hypothesis in future blogs.

Whatever the causes may be, I believe that an equally important facet of the discussion is identifying and promoting prevention measures which help us achieve and maintain mental health wellness. I believe several options are available to us all and that including mental-health wellness activities should become part of our daily health routine.

Promoting good mental health means preventative measures

Prevention measures can be simple and inexpensive. One of the most important steps we can take is to make a commitment to our mental-health. We make jokes about needing a “mental health day” but it seems by the time we make this comment we are at the end of our rope.

Good mental health requires time, be patient

I am convinced that if you want to feel emotionally balanced, centered, grounded, and happy, you must routinely attend to your mental health. Being, remaining, or becoming mentally healthy can take time and commitment, just as eating healthy may require a little more time and planning. Committing to your mental health also takes the right amount of effort. One 10 minute attempt at meditation, will probably not realize any long-lasting improvements in concentration abilities.

Another reason to love exercise…

Exercise is another (free) mental health wellness activity which has been linked to relieving depression and insomnia. Meditation is a particularly powerful tool that has been shown to be beneficial in relieving a host of mental health issues such as emotional regulation, reducing anxiety and panic symptoms, and improving concentration. Making time to be with the people we love is also good for our mental health.

Or get creative

Expressing yourself in a creative manner is immensely therapeutic. Try picking up a sketch pad, paintbrush or even arranging flowers, sticks or whatever you can find outside. Try something!! Make a conscious effort and commitment to do something today, the rest of the week, the rest of the month.

But in the end, the first step is commitment

Take care for your mental health. To deepen the experience, make your intentions conscious. Say to yourself that you are making a commitment to (fill in the blank – exercise, meditate, be creative etc) because you are important and committed to your mental health. Let’s do it!! (I feel inspired just writing about it).

With blessings – diane

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close up of hand in om mudra

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