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Rise and Shine – with Yoga!
The Innovative Use of Yoga for Getting out of Bed with Safety and Confidence

By Kathy Glenn, Janet Hennard and Jayne Shale

(Page 1 of 3)

Wake up. Get up. Many of us start our day with those simple tasks, not giving it much thought. But almost 28 percent of Americans over 65 report having difficulty getting out of bed. While Americans are living longer and expecting a better quality of life than their predecessors, the ability to get out of bed ─ with safety and confidence ─ has a profound effect on whether you are able to live those expectations.

Fear of falling can make older adults so cautious that they often opt to stay in bed or on the couch. And no wonder they’re afraid: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year, 360,000–480,000 older adults sustain fall-related fractures.1 In 2007, 18,000 older adults died from injuries related to unintentional falls; in 2008, 2.1 million older adults were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries from falls, and more than 559,000 of those patients were hospitalized.2

But staying in bed has its own side effects, including blood clots, muscle weakness, bed sores, decreased balance, dizziness with movement, feelings of nausea, and depression. And the more hours in bed, the worse these conditions become, until getting out of bed seems hopeless, if not downright scary!

What happens during the night that makes getting out of bed difficult for so many of us? Sabrina Castaneda, M.S., MOT, OTR, E-RYT-500, an occupational therapist in Dallas, Texas who promotes active aging, explains, “As we sleep, muscles often get tight and stiff and ligaments can lose some elasticity. And the synovial fluid that lubricates the joints can become a little thicker, especially in the older population or those who are inactive.” So how do we transition from stiffness to moving freely? “It’s so important to get the body moving and if possible, out of bed,” says Castaneda, who incorporates yoga into all occupational therapy sessions. A gentle yoga routine before and after rising each day is a perfect way to accomplish this.

Yoga Routine in Bed
Rising from a lying to sitting position requires strength in the core abdominal muscles and the hip flexors These yoga exercises, practiced while still lying down, will help to lengthen and strengthen those muscles. Remember to breathe deeply through the nostrils during each exercise.

  1. Simple stretches. Start with a deep inhale and slow exhale. Stretch your whole body, extending your legs down to the end of the bed and your arms up over your head if possible. Alternately point and flex each foot.

  2. Heel slides. Lying on your back with the legs down, slowly slide one heel towards the buttock, then slide back to straight. Switch legs. Repeat up to 10 slides on each leg, all the while keeping your belly button pulled toward your spine.


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