Yoga is an increasingly important part of my life and latterly I have been elaborating the idea that it is helpful in understanding the aspects of our construing or understanding of the world that is not easily put into words. Words are merely what we use to convey our discriminations and conclusions about the world around us, and there is much that remains inaccessible .. that part of our construing that is non verbal, or was developed before spoken language. Yoga is a very powerful medium for change and reaches parts at the individual’s pace, that talking therapies may not touch. Sometimes talking about things, particularly when it comes to loss and trauma, is not particularly helpful. Yoga can bring enormous comfort and strategies for coping.
There are many different forms of yoga, and increasing research evidence for the health benefits of yoga in general, and for yogic breathing techniques and mindfulness in particular. For me, I am interested in what all yoga has in common rather than a specific approach, and in the process of achieving and practising mindfulness. The role of yoga in facilitating neuroplasticity (the ability for the brain to adapt and heal) is profound.
I have undertaken training in yoga teaching and therapeutic yoga with a view to my own professional development and the application of yoga to my psychotherapeutic work with people with dementia.
Yoga benefits people at all stages of dementia: the anxiety and fear characteristic of early dementia; the disorientation and isolation in the moderate stages; and the severe disorientation, perceptual disorders and physical disabilities of the late stages. Losing tension, moving towards normal function of joints (within the structural limitations of a person’s body), and helping people to sense themselves more accurately in space, through tangible and mindful adaptations of yoga postures is something that even the most disabled people can feel validated in practicing. The work of Jo Manuel with children diagnosed with autism and ADHD can be applied to people with dementia who are so anxious and troubled by the disorientation they experience due to progressive cognitive impairment that they are constantly agitated, on the move and experiencing visual and auditory hallucinations. I have personally found that yoga provides a very rapid route to connecting and developing a therapeutic relationship, even if subsequently yoga is not helpful to that person at that particular time. I have an article about this recently published in the Journal of Dementia Care.
Classes for people with dementia and their families take place in Crouch End, and hopefully in South London soon. Individual work with people with a diagnosis of dementia, or sessions with a family member or carer can also be arranged. You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07545 287139 if you would like to know more about the role of yoga in supporting people with a diagnosis of dementia.
One day workshops in London for family and formal carers, yoga teachers, and health professionals are available through Dementia Pathfinders