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Gentle yoga with Crich Area Dementia Friends’ Group

Seated yoga - reaching out. by Paul Yorke

by Frances James

The health benefits of yoga have been well documented over the years. There are, however, a number of misconceptions about what yoga entails, with people envisaging having to get into strange positions, sitting on the floor with their legs wrapped around their neck! With these false ideas in mind, it might have seemed strange to establish regular yoga sessions as one of the activities run by Crich Area Dementia Friends – but that is what we did.

Gentle yoga sessions take place at the Glebe Field Centre, Crich on alternate Tuesdays from 10am to noon. The next sessions are on 5 March, 19 March and 2 April. If you’re interested in joining the yoga group, you can either let us know in advance or just turn up on the day. Sessions are free of charge, and if you want to bring a friend with you, that’s fine. Please wear comfortable clothes.

We were very fortunate to be introduced to Bev Lomax, who is an extremely experienced yoga teacher, and even more fortunate when she agreed to run the sessions. She is highly skilled in adapting the various activities to ensure that they are well matched to the differing abilities and needs of the people in the group.

All the exercises are either chair-based or can be done standing next to a chair; there is no mat or floor work. The clue is definitely in the title of ‘gentle yoga’. Bev chooses a range of activities which are aimed to promote overall physical and emotional wellbeing. She cleverly shows how all the movements can be done at home: for example, ideas for stretching and exercising muscles before getting out of bed; little exercises that can be practised in the kitchen while waiting for the kettle to boil, and ways of getting up from a sitting position which promote better core stability.

Dementia Friends Yoga photo by Paul Yorke

Alongside these important physical exercises, Bev teaches how to be still, take stock and therefore reduce anxiety. These meditation exercises teach how to focus on your breathing and block out the ‘noise’ of the rest of the world, albeit for a short time.

On average, nine people attend each session and everyone appears to enjoy themselves enormously. One participant commented how calm she felt after the sessions and another said that she was able to stand up with greater ease than she had in the last ten years.

Find out more about Crich Area Dementia Friends on their page. If you’d like more information, please contact Frances James on 01773 852692.