Yoga For Nurses:  3 Crucial Reasons Nurses Need Yoga

Yoga For Nurses: 3 Crucial Reasons Nurses Need Yoga

Yoga For Nurses

*This post contains affiliate links.  

Nurses, as dedicated healthcare professionals, often find themselves facing high levels of stress, physical demands, and emotional exhaustion. The demanding nature of their work, long hours, and exposure to distressing situations can take a toll on their overall well-being. This is precisely why nurses can greatly benefit from incorporating yoga into their lives. Yoga provides a holistic approach to self-care, offering numerous advantages for nurses both physically and mentally.

Physical Benifits of Yoga

Physically, the practice of yoga helps nurses maintain their strength, flexibility, and endurance, which are essential for their physically demanding job. The various asanas or poses in yoga help to improve posture, relieve muscle tension, and enhance overall body awareness.

By engaging in regular yoga sessions, nurses can alleviate chronic pain, prevent injuries, and improve their balance and coordination, enabling them to carry out their duties more effectively. Moreover, yoga encourages deep breathing and relaxation, reducing the physical symptoms of stress and promoting a state of calmness and rejuvenation.

Mental Benifits of Yoga

Mentally, yoga acts as a powerful tool for nurses to manage stress and promote emotional well-being. The mindfulness and meditation components of yoga allow nurses to cultivate present-moment awareness and develop resilience in the face of challenging situations. By focusing on their breath and practicing mindfulness, nurses can reduce anxiety, improve mental clarity, and enhance their ability to stay calm under pressure.

Additionally, yoga offers a space for self-reflection, allowing nurses to process their emotions, release tension, and restore inner balance. The practice also fosters a sense of community and connection as nurses can participate in group yoga classes, providing them with an opportunity to engage in self-care while building supportive relationships with colleagues. Ultimately, incorporating yoga into their lives empowers nurses to prioritize their well-being, leading to improved overall health and a more sustainable and fulfilling career in healthcare.

Nurses Must Care For Themselves First

Yoga’s amazing benefits for physical and mental health are well documented. The Mayo Clinic has stated that “yoga helps reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and lower your heart rate,” among several other benefits.

Every nurse knows that the stress from patient care over a 12-hour shift can be exponential.  Yet many nurses aren’t giving themselves the tender, loving kindness we give to our patients!  (I have written before about why nurses need to practice yoga if you are interested in reading).

Yoga is more than just exercise.  It offers caregivers a way to give themselves more self-care (ahem, nurses).  It helps us take even better care of our families, our patients, and ourselves.


Why Nurses Need Yoga And The Essential Props You Need To Start Your Practice- Mother Nurse Love

Why Nurses Need Yoga And The Essential Props You Need To Start Your Practice- Mother Nurse Love

1.  Stress Management

Nurses have a high workload in many hospital wards. The stress is compounded by managing patient healthcare needs and treatments, daily occupational stressors, and even the many frequent changes in technology.

A study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only eight weeks of yoga, the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a major reduction in perceived mental pressure. If that is what can happen after only eight weeks, imagine the impact a regular, permanent yoga practice could have on stress management levels.

2.  Prevent or Eliminate Chronic Low Back Pain

Chronic back pain in the nursing population is a common ailment. An evidenced-based review at the Texas Women’s University reported that estimates of chronic low back pain among nurses range from 50%-80%. Fortunately, the review also presented an overwhelming amount of studies that found that regular yoga significantly reduced symptoms associated with chronic low back pain and greatly improved overall physicality.

Yoga stretching not only increases flexibility but increases muscle strength and prevents injuries such as chronic lower back pain. In a career as physically demanding as nursing, the more physically stable we are, the better care we can give to ourselves and our patients.

3.  Prevent Burnout and Compassion Fatigue

Lack of self-care can easily result in burnout and compassion fatigue in the nursing profession. As much as I hate to admit it, even I have questioned how long I can continue with the immense workload and emotional drain that is required of me as a nurse. Thankfully, I have found a productive way to manage this through yoga and meditation.   They help reignite my passion for encouraging others to take better care of themselves.

A study published in Workplace Health & Safety on yoga for self-care and burnout prevention of nurses found that yoga participants “reported significantly higher self-care as well as less emotional exhaustion upon completion of an 8-week yoga intervention.” While the control group demonstrated no change throughout the course of the study, the yoga group showed a significant improvement in scores for self-care, mindfulness, and emotional exhaustion outcomes.

Yoga Props To Start Your Yoga Journey

I have practiced yoga pretty religiously for 12 years and have tried many different things along the way. These are a few of the yoga props I use at the studio and at home that is good for anyone starting their yoga journey.

Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat Fitness & Exercise Mat with Easy-Cinch Yoga Mat Carrier Strap


IUGA Yoga Block 2 Pack with Yoga Strap


Yoga For Nurses Frequently Asked Questions


Why is yoga important for nurses?

‘Yoga is important for nurses because it offers a variety of physical, mental, and emotional benefits that can help manage the stress and demands of their profession. It provides relaxation, improves strength and flexibility, promotes mindfulness, and enhances overall well-being. These benefits can help nurses maintain their own health and better care for their patients.

How is yoga related to nursing?

Yoga and nursing are related in that both focus on holistic well-being and promoting health. Yoga can complement nursing by providing nurses with tools to manage stress, improve self-care, and enhance their own physical and mental health. Incorporating yoga into their lifestyle can help nurses cultivate compassion, self-awareness, and resilience, which are important qualities in nursing practice.

Who should not do yoga exercises?

While yoga is generally safe for most people, there are certain individuals who should exercise caution or avoid certain poses or practices. People with certain medical conditions, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, severe osteoporosis, or recent injuries, should consult with their healthcare provider before starting a yoga practice. Pregnant women, individuals with certain musculoskeletal conditions, and those with specific medical concerns should seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor or their healthcare professional.

Why is yoga good for burnout?

Yoga is beneficial for burnout because it provides a holistic approach to stress reduction and self-care. It helps manage stress levels, promotes relaxation, improves mental focus, and enhances overall well-being. Regular practice of yoga can lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels, reduce anxiety and depression, increase resilience, and foster self-compassion—all of which are essential in preventing and managing burnout.

How is yoga used in healthcare?

Yoga is increasingly being used in healthcare settings as a complementary therapy. It can be integrated into treatment plans for various conditions, such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Yoga is often used alongside conventional medical treatments to improve overall health outcomes, manage symptoms, and enhance quality of life.

Is yoga a nursing intervention?

Yes, yoga can be considered a nursing intervention. Nurses who have training in yoga can incorporate it into their practice to support patient care. They can teach patients yoga techniques, guide relaxation exercises, and encourage mindfulness practices as part of a holistic approach to health promotion, disease prevention, and symptom management.

What are the 20 benefits of yoga?

While the specific benefits of yoga can vary among individuals, here are 20 potential benefits:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved strength
  • Enhanced posture
  • Better balance and coordination
  • Stress reduction
  • Increased relaxation
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Boosted mood and emotional well-being
  • Enhanced focus and concentration
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved respiratory function
  • Enhanced digestion
  • Increased energy levels
  • Boosted immune system function
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Reduced anxiety and depression symptoms
  • Enhanced body awareness
  • Better pain management
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Promotion of a healthy lifestyle

What is the role of yoga in preventive healthcare?

Yoga plays a role in preventive healthcare by promoting overall wellness and disease prevention. Regular yoga practice can improve physical fitness, manage stress, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and enhance mental and emotional well-being. By incorporating yoga into their lifestyle, individuals can take a proactive approach to maintaining their health and preventing potential health issues.

Yoga Helps You Feel Good!

Don’t we all want to feel good in our own skin?  Yoga empowers nurses to create a happier, healthier, and more productive work environment by making us the best version of ourselves.

For better or worse, nurses serve as role models in the healthcare community. We need to practice what we preach. Why would a patient listen to our advice on how to live a healthy life if we are not living one ourselves?

Happy yoga practice!

Additional Recommended Reading:

Travel Nurses Need Yoga To Stay Healthy!

Travel Nurses Need Yoga To Stay Healthy!

If you know anything about me at all, you know that I absolutely LOVE yoga (its a little obsessive actually).

And as you also know, I really love to write about why nurses need to practice yoga.

In particular, travel nurses have a lot on their plate!  They take travel assignments in cities where they’ve never even been and then work in different units with entirely new staff.   And then when they finally think they have everything figured out their assignment ends and they go someplace else!

On top of that, they also have the physical and mental stress that comes with working 12 hours shifts.

Travel nurses need yoga.

By taking care of ourselves we are able to replenish our reserves and take better care of our patients and families.  There is an endless amount of studies on yoga and its amazing benefits on physical and mental health.

As nurses, we need to practice what we preach and help lead our patients by example.  Why should our patients take better care of themselves both physically and mentally if we are not doing it ourselves?

My Yoga Props Essentials:

Gaiam Yoga Mat 

I love this mat because it doesn’t get slippery once I start getting sweaty during a yoga practice.  It is a thicker, more durable mat with a great chakra design.

Yoga Blocks

Cork yoga blocks are the best.  I love these blocks because they are durable and have a really good grip.  They can assist with alignment and help you get deeper into many yoga poses.

Yoga Bolster

These are amazing for restorative chest opening poses!  I have 2 of these in blue and purple.  I use them all the time to help me wind down after nursing shifts.  I also love using the booster to put my hips and legs up the wall after being on my feet for a twelve hour shift!

Headspace:  How An App Is Making Meditation More Attainable

Headspace: How An App Is Making Meditation More Attainable

(This post may contain affiliate links.  My disclosure page is really boring but you can find it here.)

An app for meditation? Huh?

Those were my thoughts when my husband told me about an app called Headspace that he had been using for 30 days straight. And then he suggested that I start using it too (apparently he can tell when I’m not handling stress very well).

Headspace is an app that has many different meditations each lasting 10 minutes. So I really don’t have an excuse that I don’t have time because it’s only 10 minutes!

Meditation is harder than it looks.

Woman meditating

Meditation is harder than it looks.

I have been practicing yoga for about 11 years on a regular basis. In that time I have probably meditated (or attempted to meditate- it can be a challenge!) hundreds of times.

The only thing that is consistent for me in meditation for me is that it’s always a little bit different each time. In other words, it’s not consistent at all.

Some days when I reach Savasana at the end of my practice I drift peacefully and effortlessly into the depths of meditation and I feel like I’m floating on a cloud.

On other days, my brain won’t stop reminding me of my to do list or rehashing a conversation with a really mean, difficult patient from my last shift at the hospital.

Like yoga, meditation is a practice. There is no good or bad. It just is what it is at the time. You can keep practicing to train your mind to do better the next time. And then eventually your brain is rewired by the habitual repetition of meditation and it becomes easier.

Setting aside time for meditation is the first step.

Since the birth of my daughter 20 months ago meditation has been a stretch for me and it than it has in a really long time. It’s hard to train your brain to relax when your mother of a toddler with a career as an RN.

And I really just don’t have a time like I used to (isn’t that everyone’s dilemma?). Since Zoe graced us with her presence the only times I have really truly been able to meditate have been when I have been lucky enough to squeeze in an actual studio yoga class. Which to be honest, is not frequently.

I do some yoga at home every day. But it’s mostly some stretching, a couple a sun salutations, an inversion or two, and then I call it a day. Sometimes I may even get to do it twice (usually next to my daughter if she’ll play long enough by herself) for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes or so.

Thing is I never actually get to the meditation part. And I am really craving more meditation in my life.

So one of my new goals is to try and fit in 10 minutes of meditation every day. No excuses!

This is where the app, Headspace, comes into play.

Do not disturb sign

Mediation requires at least a few minutes of uninterrupted time. Don’t confuse meditation with taking a nap!

As I mentioned earlier, my husband introduced me to this app a couple of months ago. He had just completed 30 straight days of practicing meditation with it. I had noticed that he had been chill in recent days, and now I know why.

I had thought he was just laying down to take a quick nap. Ha! He was actually listening to the app on his headphones under the covers. Sneaky…

I dabbled with the app for the first time a few weeks ago. I tried sitting still with my headphones on while sitting on my couch while my daughter was napping. But my heart wasn’t in it and I just couldn’t get into the idea of using an app for meditation. So I quit.

But this week I got some interesting news that reminded me that I need to be taking better care of myself and not stressing myself out to the max! I won’t go into that now. But the point is it can be a good thing to get a little nudge of consciousness that says the only person responsible for your health is you!

Funny, that’s the exact thing I say to my patients. Hmmm….

So now I’m giving this Headspace app thingy a whole new chance. If it works so well for my husband, why am I not all over this thing?

I tried it tonight and it was, well, nice actually. I definitely chilled out, felt my muscles melting into the floor, much like I used to after yoga class.

The instructor has a nice soft British voice that was calm and cool and walked me through the process of letting go of my thoughts.

It felt really awesome to be meditating again actually. I’m going to try to do it tomorrow before I get out of bed. If I happen to wake up before Zoe does.

Ill let you know how I feel after 30 days!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

Recommended Reading

8 Ways Nurses Can Stay Healthy

Nurse Life:   How To Find A Work Life Balance

Why Nurses Need To Practice Yoga:  Self Care For The Caregiver

7 Ways To Beat Nurse Burnout