Caring for aging parents, an ill child, or other forms of caregiving can be a meaningful, spiritual, and uplifting experience. Caregiving can also be physically and mentally exhausting and extremely stressful depending on what other responsibilities you have in your life. If you’re one of the millions of people who care for someone else, taking care of yourself is a critical part of your caregiving. You can’t be an effective caregiver if you’re a mess. More than any other form of exercise, yoga offers an elixir of benefits that make it the perfect practice for caregivers.
1. Yoga creates mindfulness
Creating mindfulness is a great way to stay focused on the task at hand with a relaxed and aware mind. One of the benefits of practicing yoga is that it brings your attention into the present moment and helps create mindfulness you can carry into your caregiving efforts.
The increased sense of self-awareness can help you know when you are stressed, when you need a break or sleep or food. Through that awareness, you can stay healthy, focused and avoid the buildup of stress that is so common in long-term caregivers.
2. Yoga helps you sleep
As a caregiver, you have to stay well-rested. Without good sleep, you’re at risk for catching colds and other seasonal illnesses. It’s also harder to fight the stress and mood swings that are common when caring for another person’s needs.
The actual mechanism by which yoga positively influences sleep patterns is still being medically researched, but what we do know is that the practice of yoga increases the body’s ability to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer.
3. Yoga is portable
The more time you spend caregiving, the less you interact with friends and others outside of your caregiving circle of needs. Yoga is a portable form of exercise that you can practice almost anywhere without a lot of equipment.
Caregivers who regularly connect with friends are better able to avoid feelings of depression and isolation. Connecting with friends encourages the brain to release natural oxytocin that calms frenzied nerves and tamps down stress.
With online yoga services, you can easily practice yoga where you are. It’s also a great exercise to practice with other people, so make a date for yoga with friends, roll out your mats and connect with your body and each other.
About the Author:
Virginia O’Connor is a yoga student who toyed with the idea of stuffing her favorite teacher into her suitcase when she moved across country. The loss of her teacher’s guiding voice created a void she couldn’t fill, so she created Audible Yoga. Now, she practices everywhere with audio yoga classes, and helps yoga teachers and students stay connected through life’s changes.