How becoming a yoga teacher helped improve my communication with doctors and made me a better nurse

I am sure you are curious about what yoga has to do with my nurse career……everything!

Never in a million years did I think that completing yoga teacher training would improve my nursing career or make communicating with doctors easier.

Then it happened.

I have practiced nursing for seventeen years. Ten of those, I spent working in a busy electrophysiology lab (that’s the circuitry division of the cardiac catheterization lab).

These were by far some of the best days of my practice! For those of you who practice in an operative type setting are aware of the relationships you create when working in this environment.

For those who do not work in this type of environment, I will share, that when you work in this type of setting, you become very close with all of the people who are part of that team. The doctors, nurses, x-ray technicians, device company clinicians, and others who support all the equipment you use in your day to day operations treating patients. For me, it was patients with heart rhythm disturbances. Working in such conditions, gives you a back stage pass to all the ins and outs of these team members’ lives and their idiosyncrasies.

Every human has their “buttons.” When under stress, a time crunch, or just having a crummy day these buttons get pushed and depending on the person (and whether or not they’ve had their coffee, it’s a full moon, or mercury is in retrograde), the people on the receiving end may receive an unwarranted dose of yelling or personal attacks.

It is ok to be crabby once in a while, but when people start yelling at others or throwing instruments, that crosses the line.

Prior to my yoga experience, whenever a physician was starting to engage in showing their frustration or anger by yelling, I would shut down and start to tread lightly, as if I were walking on egg shells. It never got to the point that I would not interject or interrupt the doctor on my patient’s behalf, but it always made me feel uneasy and like I was on high alert. It was as if they had some special power over me, and that I should be afraid of them.

This is never a good feeling to have as a nurse, because it can influence whether or not you speak up for your patient, which is never a good outcome.

Fast forward to my yoga teacher training. One of the doctors that I worked with agreed to be my “student” for yoga teacher training. I was both flabbergasted and ecstatic. A busy doctor taking the time and energy to help me complete my teacher training! Score! The exam went swell and after I received my certification the relationship that I had with said doctor changed forever.

I don’t know if it was that he had more respect for me, or what, but after that, I never every felt threatened, afraid, or worried about walking on egg shells again. It was as if we were now on a level playing field. I knew more about something than he did, and we were now equals in my mind.

At times when I could tell he was getting frustrated I would say, “you’re going to have to drop and give me fifteen chaturanga dandasana’s (a complex yoga move) if you keep it up.” That queue became his barometer for when he needed to cool it with his negative vibes. In an instant he would lighten up. That relationship spilled over into all of my relationships with doctors and made communicating with them so much easier.

I had this epiphany, that just because someone has MD after their name, does not give them the right to talk to me in a way that feels threatening or unkind.  I realized that we were on a level playing field and that they put their pants on just like me, one leg at a time.

This helped make me the best possible nurse, because I no longer stressed or walked on egg shells in certain situations. When we are under stress; especially chronically, we are far more likely to make errors. This puts us and our patients at risk. I had less stress (less potential for errors) and felt even more comfortable speaking up on behalf of myself and my patients (patient advocacy is crucial in great care, nurses are the eyes and ears of our patients and it is our duty to speak up when there is a change in their condition or a need to re-evaluate a previous plan of care). A win-win for all.

I respect and honor the hard work and schooling that doctors go through, but I will not allow a doctor, or anyone else for that matter to be disrespectful or rude to me. Having more education than me is no grounds for that type of behavior.

So, if you are feeling afraid or like you have to walk on egg shells at work, I get you. The great news is that you don’t have to go through yoga teacher training to change how you interact with people who are difficult. This applies to anyone who is being disrespectful to you and it doesn’t have to be at the workplace. No one deserves to be mistreated or treated disrespectfully.

The same goes for you, if you are the one treating others poorly. It goes both ways. You do not have the right to mistreat others.

When people are projecting that behavior, it is because they feel bad about themselves and use it as a way to make themselves feel better. Stop taking the bait.

The person being disrespectful is no better than you and they do not deserve your time or energy when they are speaking down to you or being disrespectful in some way. The best solution to this is to call them out on their behavior and say something like, “I can see that you are upset, however, I do not deserve to be treated this way and I am happy to give you my time and attention when you can treat me respectfully.” Then simply walk away.

Like attracts like. When we focus on our internal power (self-respect), we attract more power (respect). When we focus on our weaknesses, or what’s not “right” with us, we attract situations that highlight our weaknesses.

We all have parts of ourselves that we can improve upon. I call these opportunities. Continue to work on your “opportunities”, but also try to focus on what’s good and right with you, not on what’s not. You will attract positive, healthy, and empowering opportunities on your path. This will further empower you.

Please let me know what you are doing to improve your relationships with difficult people on or off the job and what has been successful for you. This post is for uplifting comments and encouragement. Let’s hear what’s working for you.

Sending you love and empowerment in life and work,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *