When most occupational therapists think of or mention yoga, the results and recommendations aim for the much coveted... patient or client.
But I am here to make a different suggestion...to advocate for the use of yoga for the occupational therapist!
Be it to relax, to build core (back and abdominal) strength, flexibility (to climb over cords and IV lines and chairs), grace (to be patient enough to respond to chaos with more ease) or as a mere way to be physical yet stir inner peace after or in preparation for an unpredictable day of demands, please try yoga. Please just try it.
Two years ago I began to dedicate at least 4 days per week to at least 75 minutes of yoga. Just prior to this unintended dedication, I suffered a slight strain to my back due to poor transfer techniques... used while assisting extremely heavy patients. Ironical enough, the physical therapist issued me... yoga poses to do for therapy. As I honored my weekly dedication of 4x/week I began to notice the back pain diminish. (As a side note, I was also driving at least 2 hours/day 4 days/week. I also noticed more presence in my daily interactions, less frustration, more insight, more peace, more tone in my body, and more joy in my life.)
There was hardly an area of my life that yoga did NOT positively impact. In fact, I remember breathing deeply at work in order to get through a very stressful situation. By practicing yoga for myself, I became a more vibrant, grounded and creative therapist.
Will you try it? There are many different kinds of yoga and my best suggestions to you are:
- Try at least 4 different classes and/or types. You will know when you have found a class and teach. There will be “just something about...” the teacher and/or class that inspires a desire to return.
- Expect nothing. Just go to try it. Yoga is NOT about “getting” flexible though it can be an outcome. Yoga is about just BEING with the poses...and with you.
- If you are new, tell them and ask for tips on technique so as to learn proper form early and protect yourself from injury.
- Watch for Groupons or trial packages for yoga studios. Often studios will allow you to either trial the first class for free or at least to have an introductory deal so you can still be kind to your budget.
On behalf of every ounce of benefit that yoga has given myself, countless others and therefore communities around the globe, please try it at least once.
Regardless...Namaste (which is often said at the end of yoga classes and can translate to mean, “The Light within me acknowledges the Light within you.”)
Monika Lukasiewicz, OTR/L
Monika is a guest blogger hailing from Oregon. She enjoys the practice of yoga (obviously).
This blog post is the first installment of a three part series on yoga and OT.