On the morning of Thursday, June 19th, residents of the
JEKMC were invited to participate in a session of yoga
designed to enhance the body, mind, and spirit.
This incredibly popular
program is offered on the Geri & Richard Brawerman Terrace in the late spring
and early summer — the best time to take advantage of the San Fernando
Valley's most agreeable weather. For these sessions, yoga instructor Karima
William brings her standard yoga class outdoors with a few modifications for
the Home's senior population. She explains, "Because I am working with the
elderly, it's very important to monitor my students and their activity outdoors.
I make sure to keep everyone covered with wide brimmed hats, seat people in the
shade when it's possible, and have plenty of cold water on hand."
During the lesson, residents were instructed to carefully roll their shoulders,
move their arms in pendulum-like motions, pick up their knees one at a time,
alternate between long and short breaths, kick their legs up, move their legs
from side to side, and hold the chair while moving their torsos in a circle.
Throughout the class, Karima urged participants to follow the rhythm of the
music, count along, and feel invigorated.
Karima states one of her
biggest objectives is to help students engage their core muscles. "It's very
important to make sure seniors keep this part of their body strong. When the
elderly are distracted while walking, entering into a hazardous situation, or
moving from a sitting position to a standing position, it is easy for them to
lose balance and fall. With a stronger core, seniors may be able to avoid these
dangerous situations and prevent fall-related injuries."
yogis, Karima urges her students to focus on their breathing while they partake
in the various exercises. "I like to have the students emphasize their exhales
during deep breathing. They can do this by making a loud whooshing noise as they
push the air out of their nose or mouth. These calming techniques can
bring more oxygen into their brains and bodies. With some work, seniors can
achieve increased levels of energy and mental clarity; in addition, practicing
these methods is an easy way to reverse the effects of stress while
regulating blood pressure." With so many benefits to these controlled breathing
techniques, it's quite possibly the most effective exercise of the class.
Karima has been teaching yoga at the Jewish Home for the past eight years. The
health-conscious instructor also has a background in aerobics, kickboxing, and
personal training. She teaches yoga twice a week at JEKMC on Mondays and
Fridays. Karima enjoys teaching yoga to seniors because she wants them to stay
motivated and healthy. "I teach our residents exercises that will improve
blood circulation as well as exercises to strengthen their cores and lower
backs, the parts of the bodies most effected by excessive sitting. I
also run the fitness center here at JEKMC. I love motivating residents to come
and exercise. All of the staff members here want the residents to be healthy and
happy. I'm glad I can help with that."