Yoga for Nurses

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As part of its ongoing community outreach, the Himalayan Institute Cameroon is now working with a local hospital to teach nurses practical yoga techniques. Juliette Fai, a teacher at the Shisong Nurses School, invited yoga instructor and HIC volunteer John Daskovsky to come teach in her Alternative Medicine class. Fifty nursing students in their final year of school were in attendance for the class.

The class learns some basic Joints and Glands exercises—excellent for stimulating the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems.

The class learns some basic Joints and Glands exercises—excellent for stimulating the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems.

After beginning outside with some simple warm-up exercises and stretches, the class moved indoors to discuss how these same exercises could be modified for bed-ridden patients. Bringing movement and increased circulation to bed-ridden patients was a primary focus of the class, and so, a few self-massage methods were taught to supplement the Joints and Glands exercises.

Stretches and exercises from seated and reclined positions give nurses more ways to assist their patients.

Stretches and exercises from seated and reclined positions give nurses more ways to assist their patients.

Kegel exercises, the abdominal squeeze, and Agni Sara were taught as a means of improving digestion and increasing energy. After pregnancy, many women have a difficult time bringing strength back to their abdomens. The nurses in the class were excited to learn new exercises to increase strength and burn fat.

Learning the abdominal squeeze on all fours.

Learning the abdominal squeeze on all fours.

Next, the class brought its focus to breath techniques and exercises. Several exercises were taught to identify the difference between diaphragmatic and chest breathing. Students experimented with crocodile pose to better feel the movement of their diaphragms and to strengthen their diaphragmatic breathing. After practicing diaphragmatic breathing, alternate nostril breathing was introduced as a way to calm the nervous system, and bring health and balance to the body. To help support these practices, HIC volunteer Amanda Masters demonstrated the use of the Neti Wash Neti Pot. Congestion is a year-round problem in Cameroon caused by the dust of the dry season and the cold and wetness of the rainy season, so the nurses were thrilled to learn a safe and inexpensive method for cleaning their noses.

Students practice alternate nostril breathing.

Students practice alternate nostril breathing.

The class concluded with a guided relaxation. The nurses hope to use this guided relaxation exercise to help patients relieve stress and to give rest to patients who are having trouble sleeping.

HIC volunteer John Daskovsky presents yoga books to class instructor Juliette Fai.

HIC volunteer John Daskovsky presents yoga books to class instructor Juliette Fai.

The HIC donated several copies of the books Yoga: Mastering the Basics and Exercises for Joints and Glands to the nursing school’s library. Nurses at the school will be able to use these books as references to further their own study of yoga and to teach the exercises to patients. Collaboration with hospitals and nursing schools is a new way that the HIC is working to bring affordable holistic medicine to the people of Cameroon.

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