Last week I transformed the reception area of one of the lovely practices that I locum at on a regular basis into a makeshift yoga studio. The aim was to help a small team of co-workers to relax at the end of a long day. After identifying how much space we needed, all it took was moving some chairs and the strategic positioning of yoga mats, and our temporary vet clinic yoga studio was in business!
Time for some ‘in practice’ practice
Yoga has been proven to have profound benefits on our physical and mental health (https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression) and depending on when you like to practice, it can either set you up for the potential challenges of the day by helping you to better regulate stress, or aid you in relaxing and unwinding after a strenuous shift. Seeing as we had all worked shifts varying between 8-11 hours that day relaxation was much needed!
It can be difficult to instantly switch off after your mind has been busy processing all day, so we started the session with some gentle breathing exercises to help bring attention inwards and connect our minds, bodies, and breath. I’m a big advocate of belly breathing, so I usually incorporate that into the start of my practices and teachings to help stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, in order to settle down ready for the practice to come. Check it out here if you’d like to learn more: A Guide to Belly Breathing. It was wonderful to watch the team of hardworking nurses visibly relax in front of my eyes after only a few minutes of mindful breathing.
During the hour-long class I lead my yogi nurses through a series of prep poses to warm up, standing postures to develop strength and focus, some floor postures to help release tension and aid flexibility, some gentle core exercises (as a strong core in a job where you’re standing up a lot, lifting heavy patients, etc, is essential for helping us to protect our backs). I then invigorated us with some inversion work, before slowly winding it down to one of the most crucial postures for relaxtion; svanasana.
Considering that 75% of the class had not tried yoga before, I was absolutely blown away by the positive intentions and commitment to the unity of breath and movement shown by my wonderful students, it was such a pleasure to be able to teach my colleagues a sequence specifically designed for the challenges we face during the day as veterinary professionals. Here’s what one of my students had to say about it: First time Yogi
If you feel like this is something you may be interested in, follow VetYogi on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, and stay tuned for video sequences for you to practice any time, any place, coming soon!