Catherine Rees, RN, MSN, ERYT200, RTY500
After earning my BSN from the University of Maryland School of Nursing, then my Master’s degree from Georgetown University, I developed a rich nursing career over the past 30 years in a variety of settings including Shock Trauma, Neuro-Trauma, Cardiac and Medical Intensive Care, Home Infusion Therapy, Women’s Health Care Clinic, Case Management and most recently work-site wellness including program planning and health education. For the past 19 years I have had a passion for yoga, and became certified as a Yoga Alliance yoga teacher —the perfect fit to balance and enhance all of my passions.
I earned my 500 hour yoga teacher training in 2015. In November, 2014, I attended the 8-day Integrative Yoga for Seniors for Professionals teacher training at Duke Integrative Medicine, which is part of Duke University Health System. All of my experiences have led me to my current role in teaching gentle, adaptive yoga for a variety of populations, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
About Here and Now
While working with dementia residents with varying levels of dementia, I developed Here and Now: Gentle Yoga for Dementia. The program was developed as a result of my yoga training, my research and experience with program planning, my discussions with experts, and perhaps most importantly, my personal experience working with residents living in a memory care home for the past three years teaching twelve classes per week. The curriculum is a dynamic movement meditation used for students with mild to severe dementia. This curriculum allows the instructor to select from a variety of sequential dynamic asanas ranging from the very simple to the more advanced. The sequencing aligns with the chakras.
Each class begins with simple breath work to help center the participant, create a sense of engagement and cultivate a calming of the nervous system so that asana or the yoga postures can be done. Movement is simple and direct and done from the chair. Meditation at the end of practice is meant to integrate all that was accomplished throughout the practice and clear the mind ridding it of stress, anxiety, fear, or any other tension that may persist.
Benefits to those with dementia
The goal of teaching yoga to those who suffer from dementia is to cultivate present moment joy and to reduce suffering. If even one single dose of medication can be delayed or avoided, or smiles and laughter are abundant, then that is worth everything. Most of all, we have fun. We laugh and dance and play and practice yoga like we are having the time of our life!
Please read through the website, or better yet, attend a workshop so that you may fully understand and appreciate the importance and usefulness of incorporating gentle seated yoga into the dementia and Alzheimer’s community. My hope is to build the body of knowledge around yoga for dementia and to recruit loving and compassionate yoga teachers to teach this under-served population. While not easy, it is rewarding beyond measure.