Yoga and Alzheimer's
Bringing awareness to those in need of support
Blog post date: June 12, 2023
Most likely, someone you know has, or takes care of, someone with dementia or Alzheimer's. We're highlighting the profound benefits of yoga for individuals with Alzheimer's and honoring the caregivers who help to improve the quality of life for those who suffer from the disease. In this blog, we'll touch on some scientific merits and provide some practical advice on incorporating yoga into a potential care strategy for someone with Alzheimer's.
Let's start with the science underpinning it all. A multitude of studies collected and documented through NIH suggest that yoga, including styles like Bikram yoga and hot power yoga, can positively influence cognitive function, brain health, and overall well-being in the elderly, including those with Alzheimer's.
That’s right! Yoga, and its many variations, can bolster brain health! It enhances blood flow, improves neurotransmitter function, and encourages neuroplasticity. These factors can potentially decelerate the progression of Alzheimer's and augment overall brain function.
Being aware of the benefits of yoga is one thing, but how do we incorporate yoga into a care plan for someone with Alzheimer's? Here are some tips to get you started:
Consult with a healthcare professional: Safety first, always ensure it's suitable for the individual's needs and abilities.
Choose a suitable yoga style: Restorative yoga, prenatal yoga, yoga for seniors, or chair yoga for seniors could be the most appropriate. These styles emphasize relaxation and stress reduction. At YogaSteady, we offer the Original Hot Yoga, a 90-minute class heated to 105 degrees. While the intensity of the class may not be appropriate for someone with advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, we do offer special, more accessible classes here and there, like our Outdoor Sunset Yoga Class.
Find a qualified instructor: Look for an instructor experienced in working with students with special needs. Information and certifications about instructors can usually be found on a yoga studio’s website or booking interfaces.
Create a comfortable and safe environment: Set up a distraction-free practice space that is free of clutter. Roll out a yoga mat, and if you don’t have one, any brand of mat would work just fine, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Also, consider keeping a stable chair without wheels close by or set up close to a wall to hold on to for balance.
Encourage consistency: Regularity is key, aim for at least two to three sessions per week. 20-30 minutes is a great starting point.
Monitor progress and adjust as needed: Each person is unique, so it's vital to tailor the practice to their abilities and needs.
Don’t forget about the caregivers: They absolutely pull all the necessary pieces together to ensure the best quality of life for the ones they care for. It is imperative that they schedule time to take care of themselves, as well. An easily accessible, pre-recorded virtual yoga session may be just what they need to relax and destress.
Yoga provides not just physical benefits but also emotional and mental support, fostering a holistic approach to managing Alzheimer's symptoms, reducing stress, and promoting brain health. Be it detox yoga for cleansing, outdoor yoga for a refreshing environment, or desk yoga for easy accessibility, there's a practice suitable for everyone.
To newcomers, yoga might seem overwhelming, but with classes like hot yoga for beginners and even pregnancy yoga for expectant mothers, there's an entry point for everyone. And for those seeking more specialized benefits, a quick YouTube search can lead you to classes like Yoga for Runners, Yoga for Obesity, and so on.
Remember that while yoga, with its wide range of styles, can be a valuable tool in managing Alzheimer's, it should complement, not replace, medical care or professional guidance. Always consult healthcare professionals when introducing new interventions or therapies.
In recognition of the significant work and tireless effort caregivers put into managing Alzheimer's, it's worth noting the Alzheimer's Association's "The Longest Day" campaign. This global event, held annually on the summer solstice, is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer's care, support, and research. Participants across the world engage in an activity they love — or one loved by those affected — to symbolize the challenging journey of those living with the disease and their caregivers. From biking and hiking to cooking and knitting, the range of activities reflects the individual journeys of those facing Alzheimer's.
This year, at YogaSteady, we're hosting A Day of Light, a special all-day yoga event on "The Longest Day," June 21st 2023, featuring a Sunrise Silent Hot Yoga in the morning, followed by a Midday Sun Salutation practice, and a Sunset Outdoor Flow class in downtown Falls Church, Virginia. Join us in shining a light on Alzheimer's and showing our unwavering support to those navigating this challenging disease. Together, we can make a difference, one yoga pose, one donation, and one day at a time.
Thanks for reading!
Michael is co-owner of YogaSteady, and he is creating awareness about Alzheimer's, of which his stepfather currently suffers from.