Holding Space

#seniors #caregivers #stress #depression #chairyoga #seniorliving #independentseniors

Some days it's just hard to find the joy in life. I came out to teach class this morning, it was a beautiful morning, I was in a good place in life today and looking forward to teaching my faithful group of yogis. As usual I had a few specific things planned to do in class after which I would judge the energy of the room and depending who is in class decide what we should do each session.


Class was busy today, it often is on a Monday when people need to get out and move after a weekend at home or being away visiting family. I began class and immediately picked up on the energy of the room. My higher energy chair yoga dance I had planned didn't feel right for this day, something was off. After the first few minutes I realized that the overwhelming feeling to me was fear and sadness. Before class I had spent time talking to one yogi who was worried she had the first symptoms of Parkinson's disease, although they could possibly be side effects from other medication she is taking. She was going for tests later that week. I could see the strain and worry in her face as she talked, usually so joyous and exuding fun she seemed tired, scared and subdued. In her shoes today most of us would be the same way.


Later after class I was able to spend time talking with another lovely soul who has been a regular in my class for many years, I asked a simple "how are you today?" I had remembered her husband had recently had a series of strokes and falls, he had recently come back home but with 24/7 care to ensure he did not fall again. The strain was showing on her face, the harsh reality of a new normal that was not the life she would have chosen. A loss of privacy and of the relationship she once shared with her husband as now everything would be different. A loss of her own Independence and time for herself as now she needed to drive him to and from the many new doctors and physio appointments. She shared with me how grateful she was that she could make it to class today it was "a little oasis among the chaos of her day".


My heart aches for them both, facing new, unwanted hardships in life, with new fears for each day and the future ahead. It's the same for many people we see around us, we never know what people are going through, we are so good at wearing masks that hide our pain. With the older population these fears and hardships can be even more pronounced as they face the reality of illness and disease, a lack of strength and energy compared to what they used to take for granted. Others in class have or are facing major surgeries or have dealt with the loss of a partner, what can I possibly do for these people?


On my drive home my mind was whirring away, how could I possibly help? It seems the reality is nothing, except hold space for them, offer kindness and the time to talk if it is wanted and often it is. Realizing that as much as I want to help, fix and make things better for people in reality it is impossible. I don't have the skills, money or availability and neither would it be appropriate. My job is to hold space, to show up at each class, be my best self, feel the energy of the room and teach accordingly. There are times I wish I didn't feel so much compassion and love for my yogis but I do and that is just how it is, perhaps that is one reason I am good at what I do, it's not always just the teaching. On a daily basis I am humbled at how yoga helps these older yogis in small and not so small ways. If you work with seniors remember too that if they seem agitated and angry that can often be a mask for fear, what is really going on in their lives? We may never know as many don't share details. Perhaps being aware and noticing little signs along the way will help us to have a little more compassion and understanding, to encourage us to spread kindness in what might be an otherwise lonely day. Thank you for reading.




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