“Yoga? Anyone free for yoga?”
“Yes I want yoga!”
“Ok, let’s go. What about you? You coming for some yoga?”
“Yes of course!”
“Ok, where should we go tonight?”
“How about right here? There’s some space.”
“Great. Empty your pockets. Spread out a little. Any requests?”
“Neck and shoulders!”
And then I lead a small group of people in a short 5-10 minute yoga practice, standing poses only. Occasional interruptions of crying babies and monitor alarms can be expected. Ill-fitting scrub pants can get in the way with some poses. Shoes remain on, and there is no sitting down, lying down, or even touching the floor. But even so, after a few minutes of practice, everyone is smiling, laughing, or at least a little bit more relaxed before resuming their work.
Where are we? The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We are a group of night shift nurses and nurse practitioners squeezing in a brief physical and mental health break when time and tiny patients allow. Born out of consistent requests from co-workers to show them yoga postures for sore necks, shoulders, hips, etc, and named “tuck-in yoga” for its place in the shift right after tuck-in rounds with the nurse practitioner, this practice has been regularly occurring for a few years now. Although some nights it is over before it begins, and some nights there is no time for it at all, when we can fit it in, it provides the perfect outlet for stretching sore muscles, calming our breathing, and focusing us for the next part of the shift.
Parents of patients that have noticed have often smiled or commented on how much fun or what a good idea, seeing it as their children’s care providers engaging in something healthy. The nurses that regularly participate have reported benefits that include not only loosening of stiff muscles, but also of feeling more calm, more focused, better able to handle stressful situations that may arise later in the shift, and a better sense of team with other co-workers. After so much positive feedback and continual requests for tuck-in yoga, I just wanted to share this here as nothing more than a simple inspiration for others. No matter where you work, when you work, or what you do, there is always time for a little yoga break, and the benefits are noticeable and meaningful. It’s always a good idea to take a moment and do some yoga. Pull up a small patch of floor, leave your shoes on, adjust your pants as needed, and enjoy.