Yoga at Home: Caregivers Part I

Yoga instructor, Felice Rhiannon, created a series of yoga poses for caregivers.

Caregivers are an important part of the healing equation. Caregivers get tired. Caregivers need to take care of themselves as well. So any yoga practice would be wonderful for someone who’s engaged in care-giving, whether they’re professional caregivers, family members, or friends. But of particular benefit would be restorative yoga practices. They’re deeply relaxing, deeply renewing – so they kind of recharge your batteries and enable you to come back to your care-giving situation refreshed and renewed.

I myself am a caregiver for my mother who’s 93. She’s one of my best yoga students and whenever I leave her house I come back to my house and do half an hour of restorative yoga just so that when I once again visit her and am in the role of a caregiver, my batteries have been recharged.

Caregiver Practice

Welcome to your restorative yoga practice. This practice is designed to promote deep relaxation and tranquility. It’s a wonderful practice to do during the period of time where you’re receiving chemotherapy treatment and it’s a fabulous practice for caregivers. Caregivers need some time on their own in which to take care of themselves. And this yoga practice will restore your energy, your vitality, and your ability to give freely to the person you love.

So let’s begin our restorative process by gathering some props. You might take some throw cushions from your couch, some beach towels or bath towels, and some firm blankets. And have them handy wherever it is that you’re going to practice your restorative yoga.

Supported Twist

To begin your restorative yoga practice, we’ll be doing a gentle twist. Take a hold of some of your blankets or if blankets aren’t handy, you can actually use a couch cushion. Begin sitting on the floor next to your props, and you’ll have to adjust the height of these props to suit your condition and to suit your energy level each day. Begin by placing your hand on either side of your props and as you inhale, lengthen your spine, and as you exhale, walk your hands forward so that you’re laying on your stack of props and turn your head so that you’re resting on your comfortable cheek. In this posture, allow yourself to surrender completely. Make sure there’s no weight on your forearms, that your shoulders are relaxed – let your eyes close and visualize your breath flowing up and down your spine. Breath flowing up your spine as you inhale and down your spine as you exhale. You can rest in this posture for three to five minutes, focusing on your breath, allowing yourself to relax completely. When you are ready to come out of the pose, gently walk your hands back a bit and then assist yourself to come up to sitting. And then we’ll turn around and do the pose on the other side.

Supported Back Bend

For the next pose, you’ll need either a blanket or a few large bath towels. And you’re going to make a roll of this blanket. So take your rolled up blanket and place it behind you. Bring yourself to sit in front of the blanket roll with a little bit of space between your hips and the end of the blanket roll. Place your hands behind you and gently walk them back so that your entire spine rests on the blanket roll. Here you might want again, a small towel under your head for support. You may either stretch your legs long on the floor or keep your knees bent, whichever is more comfortable for you. Another option is to place either a long pillow or another rolled up blanket or towel under your knees. Bring your arms out to a comfortable position with some space between your torso and your arms. Allow your eyes to close in this gently supported back bend. Let your breath once again come easily and smoothly, noticing how open your chest has become from resting on the blanket roll. Allow your shoulders to relax, your neck to relax, the whole length of your spine to be easy. Now allow your legs to relax – your feet, all parts of you surrender to the supports underneath you. To come out of the pose, bend your knees, you have if you had a support underneath your knees you might just want to roll it away and very mindfully roll yourself off the blanket roll unto your side, bending one arm to rest your head and bringing the other arm to rest in front of you. Take a few easy breaths here before you bring yourself back up to a comfortable seated posture. Take a few breaths here just to notice how you feel. Noticing your spine, noticing your breath, noticing anything that might have become real for you during these deep, relaxing poses.


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