Yoga Poses for Your Profession is back and this time we’re focusing on Nurses. While this sequence is designed for nurses, it is perfect for other health care professionals and really anyone who spends their days caring for others and a lot of time on your feet. Check out the last Yoga for your Profession post for Teachers.
I am fortunate enough to know some awesome nurses. One of my sisters is a nurse and I’ve seen the time and energy she dedicates to her profession and to the people who benefit from her nurturing attitude. Nurses are some of the most compassionate, caring, and selfless people. They spend 12+ hour days on their feet helping keep all of us at our best health no matter what we may be dealing with. They are constantly surrounded by people who need their help and who are relying on them to make the right decisions at the right time. The downside that can result from this nurturing personality where they are programmed to put others’ needs before their own is that nurses often aren’t able to focus on their own health. Working long hours, rushing to eat a quick lunch or skipping it all together, not being able to take bathroom breaks, and not being able to stay hydrated… Do any of those things sound familiar to you nurses out there? If so, read on!
First, I must say, I appreciate the people that are willing to put others’ needs before their own as we would be in a pretty rough spot without health care professionals that truly care about their patients. Second, I urge you to start a yoga practice. The work that you deal with daily and the stressful situations you put your body and mind in can cause anxiety, depression, back pain, migraines, colds, poor posture, bad nutrition, lack of sleep, etc., etc. While yoga is not a cure for all of these ailments it can help combat many of them and help relax your body and mind so that you can get better, deeper sleep and learn how to combat stress and anxiety more easily.
This yoga sequence is designed to be a quick way for you to relax and take a break whether you decide to steal away for a quick break at work to do this, or either start or end your day with it.
Chair Pose – Utkatasana
As nurses you spend much of your day on your feet or bending over helping patients. It is vital that you have a strong core, legs, knees, and back. This pose builds strength particularly in the quads which will help support your knees and help prevent injuries. If you’re suffering from back pain this is a great pose as it elongates and lengthens the spine and strengthens the core to help improve posture and reduce back pain. The pose will also strengthen the muscles in the bottoms of the feet, helping to prevent flat feet and reduce pain that you may experience from being on your feet all day.
Begin in Mountain Pose with your feet hip distance apart. Lift your arms overhead with your palms facing each other, relax the shoulders down away from your ears. Bend your knees and send your hips back like you are sitting in an imaginary chair. Allow your upper body to lean forward slightly as your hips reach back. Draw your navel in towards your spine to keep your low back from arching.
Look forward or up between your hands. Press your weight into the backs of your feet so that if you were to lift your toes off of the mat you would still maintain balance. Stay in this pose for as long as is comfortable, aiming for at least 30 seconds.
Warrior I – Virabhadrasana I
This is a powerful, strong pose that has both physical and mental benefits. Physically this pose is going to strengthen the feet, hamstrings, quads, glutes, and core. It will also open the chest and shoulders. Mentally this pose is challenging, you’re combining a lot of different movements in the body, with one foot forward, one foot back, the hips squared to the front of the mat and the arms lifted. It can be challenging to keep awareness on every part of your body all at once. This helps build focus, and helps take your mind off of anything that is causing you stress.
Begin standing on your yoga mat in Mountain Pose. Step your right foot back several feet, turning your foot at about a 45 degree angle. Line your front heel with your back heel and ensure your hips are facing towards the front of the mat. Keep your right knee directly over your ankle or slightly behind. Raise your arms overhead with your palms facing towards each other You can stay here or reach your arms back slightly to initiate a mild backbend. Open your chest and draw your shoulders down and away from your ears. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Happy Baby – Ananda Balasana
This silly pose will do more than just make you laugh, but by making you laugh it can help relieve stress and lighten your mood. It always feels a little awkward for people to get in this pose, but try it out and you’ll be glad you did. This pose will calm the mind and relieve stress. It will open up and stretch the hips and the inner groin which will help you be able to move more comfortably throughout your day.
Begin by lying on your back. Inhale and hug both knees in towards your chest. Bring your hands to the outside edges of each foot and flex each foot bringing them directly above your knees. Gently push down on your feet to bring your knees down towards your armpits or the floor. Remain in this pose for as long as is comfortable. You also have the option to gently rock side to side in this pose if you’re craving some movement!
Bridge Pose – Setu Bandhasana
This is another calming yoga pose that is great for relaxing after a busy day. It is a beginner backbend that will help rejuvenate your body and mind. Bridge Pose will provide relief for low back pain, fatigue, headaches and anxiety. It also helps open and expand the chest and shoulders which can improve breathing and help correct poor posture. As an added bonus this pose will strengthen the glutes and hamstrings and also improve digestion and circulation.
Begin lying on your back on your yoga mat. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the mat as close to your sitting bones as possible. Place your hands by your sides, with your palms on the mat. Press firmly into the mat lifting your pelvis towards the ceiling. Ensure your knees stay hip width apart. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and press the tops of the shoulders into the mat. You can keep your palms on the mat or interlace your fingers underneath your tailbone. Engage your arms and legs to lift your hips even higher. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then slowing come to lying back down on the mat.
Legs Up the Wall Pose – Viparita Karani
If you only do one yoga pose in your life or just one out of this sequence, this should be the one you pick. It is perfect for anyone who spends a lot of time standing as by lifting your legs up above your heart you are inverting the flow of blood away from your legs for a change. This brings more blood to your low back and can provide some immediate relief to back pain sufferers. When you stand all day you run the risk of getting edema in the legs and feet and this pose will help move stagnant fluids that may build up in your lower extremities. It also provides relieve for tired legs and feet and relieve tension in the legs. This pose will not only relax your body, but also your mind. It is a good one to do right before bed to help you have a more restful night’s sleep.
Bring your yoga mat to the edge of an open wall. Sit next to the wall with your right hip as close to the wall as possible. Swing your legs up onto the wall and bring your shoulders and head lightly onto the floor. You may need to scoot your hips closer to the wall with the intention of bringing your hips and the backs of your legs flush with the wall. Flex your feet so that the soles of your feet point towards the ceiling. Let your hands rest by your sides or on your abdomen. Keep your chin tucked slightly to allow the back of your neck to remain long. Stay here for 10-15 minutes, breathing deeply and allowing your mind to relax. Use this breathing exercise to help soothe stress and anxiety.
Again thank you for being in this important profession! Although much of your time is spent caring for others don’t forget to also take time to care for yourself!