Yoga and Nursing

Contrary to popular opinion, yoga isn’t just about the physical contortions – poses or asanas – that its practitioners assume and that gymnasts are best suited to make. Yoga, in fact, also involves mental and spiritual exercises that contribute to greater self-awareness, mindfulness, and fitness – truly, a great way to become physically and mentally fit even when you aren’t into its spiritual beliefs.

History of Yoga

Yoga has undergone four distinct stages in its development. First, pre-classical yoga has its roots in the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India, which flourished more than 5,000 years ago. The Rig Veda, a collection of sacred texts containing rituals, songs and mantras by Vedic priests and Brahmans, contained the first mention of the word. The Brahmans and Rishis developed yoga, as well as recorded their principles and practices in the Upanishads.

Second, classical yoga was the first systematic presentation of the belief system. Patanjali’s Yoga-Sûtras is the definitive definition of classical yoga, said text of which was written around the second century and which describes the Raja Yoga path. For this reason, Patanjali is widely considered as the father of yoga and his iconic work as the strongest influence on yoga as we know it today.

Third, post-classical yoga is characterized by the connection between the mind and body, as well as the application of body-centered practices. The practitioners of post-classical yoga also rejected ancient Vedic teachings and, in turn, considered the physical body as the most important part of enlightenment.

Fourth, modern yoga is the result of the introduction of yoga by yogis – or yoga masters, if you will – to the Western world from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, and T. Krishnamacharya are among the prominent names that introduced yoga into the mainstream, usually via lectures, demonstrations, and books.

But yoga wasn’t as strong as it is now. When Indra Devi conducted yoga studio in her studio, which opened in Hollywood in 1946, the practice began to be more accepted. Nowadays, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of gyms and studios offering yoga classes and sessions.

Why It’s Beneficial

Studies have shown that yoga has physical and mental benefits for its practitioners. Nurses, in particular, will benefit from regular and proper yoga sessions considering the stress nature of their jobs.

Encourages all-around fitness

Nurses need physical strength and stamina to perform their jobs well and yoga is useful in this regard. Yoga emphasizes proper posture, dynamic breathing, and mindfulness from meditation, as well as core strength (i.e., abdominal muscles) from the asanas. Indeed, it’s considered as a low-impact exercise but only at the basic level – the advanced poses shouldn’t be done without proper guidance and training.

Relieves physical and mental stress

Nurses are exposed to a wide variety of physical and mental stressors, from cranky patients and bossy superiors to heavy workloads and long hours on their feet. Yoga is an effective method for effective stress relief because of its emphasis on deep and controlled breathing, meditation and mindfulness, and physical exercise, particularly dynamic stretching. You will feel relaxed and reenergized even after 5-10 minutes of yoga, whether at home or in the hospital.

Improves mindfulness

Nurses can’t seem to catch a break, much less a breather, from their workday duties so they are more likely to be distracted if not less than focused than they should be. Yoga aids in achieving a greater level of mindfulness, of being more aware of one’s self and of others, and of being present in the moment. You will be able to focus more on the task at hand, give better performance, and even be more understanding of what others are going through in life as it affects your own life.

When you are healthier in mind and body, thanks partly to yoga, you will find that you have better personal and professional relationships. You can remove yourself, so to speak, from stressful situations and people while maintaining your inner peace. In the nursing profession, keeping your cool is a valuable trait indeed!

Examples of How It Can be Used in the Nursing Practice

Yoga can be applied in many ways to benefit your profession as a nurse and to improve your life as a person, too.

  • Every morning, if you can, spend 5-10 minutes on deep breathing, dynamic stretching, and mindfulness exercises. You will likely come to work with a positive mindset and plenty of physical energy for the demanding work ahead.
  • On your break time, spend another 5-10 minutes on yoga exercises, preferably in a quiet and cool room. If your workplace provides a fitness facility, then you can use it for your asanas – all you need is your mat and you’re set.
  • Practice deep breathing even when you’re doing a work-related activity, such as writing in the patients’ charts or dealing with an obnoxious patient.

Even yoga-style stretching can straighten out the knots and kinks in your body so you’re ready again to deal with the demands of your job.

Apps/ YouTube recommendation

These apps and YouTube videos will get you on the right path to applying yoga in your nursing work:

  • Pocket Yoga is an app that contains vocal and visual instructions for breathing and poses.
  • Yoga Studio has more than 70 preset programs for customizing your yoga sessions.
  • 5 Minute Yoga is designed for beginners who want fast, easy and convenient yoga sessions at their own time.
  • Adriene’s 30-day yoga program is also recommended (

Get into yoga ASAP and benefit from it soon!