Teaching yoga to veterinarians

I completed week two of my veterinary acupuncture course (more to come on that in another post) in early December.  During week 1, I offered to teach a 30 minute Gentle Flow yoga class to any of the forty or so veterinarians participating.   I knew that I needed to move around before settling into a whole day of learning and hoped some would feel the same.  Nine hours of combined sitting and standing can wear a body out.  The group fluctuated between 6-8 regulars, so I kept the classes going the next time we were in training.  No commitments.  Didn’t matter if they’d done yoga before or not.

I’ve had several “yoga firsts” from this experience.

First time teaching to my professional peers.

I’d never taught yoga to other vets before.  I was stepping out of my comfort zone by sharing this side of me.  At the studio, there are so many working people who understand the benefits of yoga.  I’m the only vet in my area that does yoga regularly and is a registered teacher.  Most don’t seem to have the time due to clinic hours, kids/family or other sports interests.  I know of maybe one other DVM (not local) that is also a yogini but haven’t actually met them.

It’s been wonderful to watch how each person has progressed in only a few classes. “Yoga is cumulative”, Dianne often says to her new students.  I got to see examples of this, especially in their Down Dog pose.  I was really happy that practicing with this group inspired a few to continue on.  Two people said that they started doing yoga at home (with a video or at a studio).  Yeah!  Then there was the one night after our evening lecture on Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine in small animals.  She asked me, “What pose should I be doing for tightness in the belly and low back?”.  It’d been an extra long, 11 hour day of sitting and standing.  I was overtired and a little flustered at first, because being asked for advice about yoga is still new to me.  After a few hems and haws, I suggested that she try a pose called constructive rest for 15-20 minutes to help loosen up her iliopsoas muscles.

First time teaching an early morning class.

I’m not an early morning person.  These yoga classes were at 7 am due to room availability and scheduling.  A beautiful spot on the PawsWay mezzanine, overlooking the lake.  I kept it slow and gentle, since that’s how I like to wake up.  In the past, I’ve practiced at 6 am with people who seem to hit the ground going full steam.  To each their own!

First time teaching yoga 4 days in a row.

Yoga is a hobby for me.  I usually only teach one night a week at the studio.  I’ve never taught that many flow classes in a row before.  I was worried that I would run out of ideas and get boring.  I didn’t want to teach this frequently or turn it into a chore.  Surprisingly, it didn’t feel that way at all.  I even got energized from being with everyone.  But teaching to others isn’t equivalent to doing my own practice.  I’m still working toward that elusive goal of a “daily personal practice”…maybe I’ll write a post about that one day.

First time leading a donation based class, with funds going to animal care.

It was pay what you can, as you go.  Any money raised was donated to the IVAS Endowment Fund (for research on animal acupuncture) and Farley Foundation (for low income pet owners in need).  Not sure exactly how much was collected but I think it was around $200 so far.  Those that attended were very generous.  Thank you!  Good Karma!

I’m excited to know that yoga seems to work for some of my colleagues.  I’ll practice again with my new friends at our next acupuncture session.  Here’s to hoping that yoga becomes more available to veterinarians everywhere!

 

  • Sounds like a great experience. Always interesting with people who don’t know what to expect.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for your post, Alan. I love teaching yoga newbies!

  • Awesome Gwen!  Happy to hear about your experience!  Inspiring to know that we all have a comfort zone to step out of! 

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for reading, Anne!