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Therapeutic Yoga Nursing is Good Medicine

Yoga Nurse, Annette Tersigni

Nurses are the backbone of any successful healthcare facility and are prone to crippling stress. Stress related chronic anxiety is now the major medical complaint of our times. Stress is a killer, literally. Constant thinking, planning, worrying, wanting, and doing is literally burning our brain cells, releasing toxic hormones into the blood stream, causing harmful sleep deprivation, wrinkling our skin, de-calcifying our bones and wreaking havoc with our insulin levels…the nurse becomes the patient. Help is on the way!

As a practicing RN and certified medical yoga teacher, I have helped to heal over three thousand patients and students over the past fifteen years in Canada and the United States. How? Yoga is an ancient 5000 year old art and science which utilizes diaphragmatic breathing, gentle stretches and relaxation techniques to increase quality of life. Yoga Nursing® is the holistic, healing practice of caring and compassion provided by licensed nursing professionals who are also certified yoga teachers. I took training in Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, in the mid 1990’s with the brilliant Deepak Chopra and David Simon Mds. At that time, I was a full time yoga teacher and they inspired me. I thought “Wow! If I became a nurse as well as being a yoga teacher, I could really make a difference in the quality of people’s lives.” Once, while I was still in nursing school teaching a yoga class, one of my students called me the yoga nurse! That‘s when the “Yoga Nurse” and the field of Yoga Nursing was officially created. I graduated from nursing and it became crystal clear that there was a natural fit between traditional western based nursing knowledge and the ancient eastern science of yoga.

Try this quick yoga nursing stretch now. You can easily integrate this powerful stretch while you are on the job. It’s called the downward dog using a chair or desk. Stand up and put your hands firmly on chair or desk. Walk your legs back, arms straightening out, then bend over making a bridge shape with your spine and melt your head and chest toward the ground. Let your head hang heavy like a ripe piece of fruit. Breathe deeply and feel the release of tightness in the entire backside of your body – back, aching shoulders and neck. Feel your chest opening, freeing tension. Enjoy this delicious stretch several times on your shift.

Watch this cool video to see exactly how it’s done.

Nurses, consider trying a gentle, restorative yoga class to restore and renew your energy; many nurses tell me they have tried everything, and that yoga is the first thing that has finally helped them and they love it! The KEY words here are gentle and restorative. So what if you say you are stiff…that’s why people come to yoga…to undo the stiff neck, knots in the body and mind. Check out your local yoga studios and inquire into the styles available and the background of the teacher. Safety first, the first law of yoga is the same as in medicine…non-violence or do no harm. Yoga will change your life, increase your self-esteem, and empower you to continue to serve as the nurse hero that you are. Find out for yourself that yoga is good medicine.


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