How yoga can manage Alzheimer’s symptoms

 How yoga can manage Alzheimer’s symptoms

Dr Hansaji Yogendra

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder. It makes one’s memory and thinking get worse day after day. This poses a challenge to both the patients and their caregivers. While there is no cure, yoga offers hope in managing Alzheimer’s symptoms. The mindful movements in the practice of yoga are gentle and deliberate physical postures. These can play an important role in enhancing the well-being of those dealing with this condition. Yoga’s mindful movement can indeed be a therapeutic tool in the ongoing battle against Alzheimer’s.

What’s Mindful Movement in Yoga?
Mindful movement in yoga is all about the art of being present in the moment, establishing a deep connection between the body and the mind. It emphasizes gentle, deliberate, and controlled motions, often synchronized with the breath. Here’s how mindful movement can aid in managing Alzheimer’s symptoms:

Feeling Your Body
Alzheimer’s can make you feel like your body and mind are not working together. Mindful movement helps you feel your body again. It can also help you stand and move better.

Reducing Stress
Alzheimer’s can make you feel anxious or upset. Mindful movement is calming. It helps you relax and feel peaceful.

Helping Your Brain
Doing mindful movements can make your brain work better. It helps with memory and thinking. It can slow down how fast your brain gets worse.

Getting Stronger
Mindful movements make your body stronger and more flexible. This can help you not fall or get hurt, which can happen to people with Alzheimer’s.

Feeling Better
Alzheimer’s can make you feel sad. Mindful movement can make you feel happier and less sad.

Using Mindful Movement for Alzheimer’s
Here are some things to remember when using mindful movement for Alzheimer’s:

Easy Movements
Start with easy movements. Sit and stretch your body or move your neck and ankles.

Chair Yoga
If you can’t move much, try chair yoga. It’s safe and comfortable because you stay seated.

Breathe Slowly
Remember to breathe slowly while moving. It helps you stay relaxed and focused.

Safe Space
Make sure the place where you do mindful movement is safe. Use cushions or pillows for comfort.

Be Patient
Everyone with Alzheimer’s is different. Some may do better than others. Be patient and adjust the movements to fit your needs.

Yoga for Alzheimer’s
Here are some simple yogic movements that can be beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients:

Neck Rolls
Sit comfortably and gently roll your head from side to side. This helps relieve neck tension and promotes relaxation.

Ankle Circles
While seated, lift one foot off the floor and make circles with your ankle. This improves circulation and flexibility in your ankles.

Seated Paschimottanasana
Sit with your legs extended in front of you and slowly bend forward at your hips, reaching toward your toes. This stretch can help with flexibility.

Cat-Cow Stretch
On your hands and knees, arch your back like a cat, and then drop your belly and lift your head like a cow. This gentle flow can relieve stress and improve spine flexibility.

Supported Balasana
While seated on a chair or on the floor, extend your arms forward and rest your forehead on your arms. This pose provides relaxation and helps release tension.

The practice of yoga reminds us that, even in the face of challenges, there is an opportunity for healing and self-discovery. Many case studies have reported positive results from introducing yoga into the lives of Alzheimer’s patients. Families have seen improvements in their loved ones’ mood and memory retention. With mindful movement, patients affected by Alzheimer’s and their family or caregivers can find a connection, presence, and improved quality of life.

It’s a promise of hope and comfort in tough times.

Dr Hansaji Yogendra is Director, The Yoga Institute 


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