Los Angeles Jewish Home's Blog

Yoga on the Terrace

Yoga on the TerraceOn 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." 

Like most 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."