Yoga Teacher Training for Nurses to Improve Health Outcomes

A woman who has received yoga teacher training for nurses helps a patient with a yoga pose to improve her mobility.

One of the main reasons to consider getting yoga teacher training for nurses is to improve health outcomes. A recent study published in the International Journal of Yoga indicated that patients scheduled for cardiac surgery who spent 5 days using yoga-based breathing techniques reduced both pre-surgery and post-surgery anxiety. Many more studies demonstrate the positive effects of yoga on back pain, shoulder injuries, autoimmune disorders, balance issues, pelvic floor dysfunction, stress, anxiety, depression, and health and well-being in general.

Whether you apply yoga techniques with patients or to help fellow nurses and doctors, stay in a nursing job or transition into a private practice as a yoga therapist, you are able to fill a gap left by using Western medicine alone.

I’m Brandt Passalacqua, the Co-Founder, Director, and Lead Teacher of Breathing Deeply, a yoga training school. I’ve trained hundreds of students in yoga teaching and yoga therapy, many of them nurses.

A headshot of Brandt Passalacqua, the Lead Teacher for Breathing Deeply's yoga therapy training for nurses and professionals from all fields

Keep reading to learn more about how to use yoga in your career, the benefits of yoga for nurses, how to improve patient outcomes, and more. If you’d like to talk to us about your interest in yoga, questions, or concerns, please get in touch today.

Table of Contents:

What Kind of Yoga for Nurses Training Do You Need?

As a nurse, you already have a strong background in anatomy, physiology, pathology, and more. You may hope that all you need to practice yoga with your patients is to take a few yoga classes. Maybe you’ve been successful in using yoga to help improve your own health and well-being, so why can’t you do the same for others?

Just because a particular yoga practice or technique has helped you doesn’t necessarily mean that it will help someone else. Learning how to use yoga techniques therapeutically is a skill set that requires specific training. It involves more than just creating a list of yoga poses for someone with a particular condition. You must also take into account a person’s history, circumstances, goals, pathology, where they are on their health journey, and more.

The practice of applying yoga techniques therapeutically to specific physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual conditions is called yoga therapy. Without proper yoga therapy training for nurses, it’s possible to do more harm than good to your patients.

As Lu Ann Milius, a student of ours who worked as a nurse practitioner, said, “I had been teaching adaptive yoga classes and working one-on-one with clients dealing with various health issues for 18 years, yet I never felt I was truly meeting the yogic needs of my private students from a therapeutic sense. I attended workshops and conferences to deepen my knowledge. I had explored countless options for learning over five years. Ultimately, I gave up. To my knowledge, there was no program that would fit my needs. Six months later, I received a notice about the Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy Program. It was exactly what I had been looking for.”

Nurses are in a prime position to be able to help others with yoga. With yoga therapy training, you can combine the fundamentals of yoga with evidence-based medical knowledge, creating a unique and holistic approach to improve patient outcomes.

Why You Should Consider Yoga Therapy Training for Nurses

Yoga therapy training for nurses allows you to combine the Eastern practices of yoga with Western medicine. This allows you to achieve better outcomes and more holistic care for patients, while also nurturing your own well-being and career.

Karen Cox, a registered nurse in our yoga therapy program, said, “Learning how to make the body, mind, spirit connection has been the most rewarding and valuable part of the program for me. No other health profession will come close to that. By connecting meditation, mindfulness, pranayama practices, and asanas, yoga therapy is the most complete holistic health practice I know.”

Yoga therapy training teaches you the techniques of yoga, such as asanas (poses), pranayama (breath work), meditation, mindfulness, chanting, and more, as well as how to apply them therapeutically with others. It goes beyond what you would learn as a student in a yoga class or even in a yoga teacher training, allowing you to work safely and effectively with clients one on one to address specific health conditions. You also learn how to integrate yoga therapy with other healthcare systems, manage your own stress, and run a private yoga therapy practice if you ever want to work with clients independently.

Why Is Yoga Teacher Training for Nurses Important?

Even if you have no interest in teaching group classes, the first step is to complete yoga teacher training for nurses. That’s because yoga teacher training is a standard prerequisite for yoga therapy training programs. The reason for this is that yoga therapy students will need to have a strong background in yoga already to get started.

Be aware that most yoga teacher training programs are made to serve people who actually want to become yoga instructors. This means that a significant amount of time is spent teaching you how to teach in group settings. If your interest is just in learning the basics of yoga so you can complete yoga therapy training and work one on one with clients, these parts can be a waste of time.

Because our focus is on yoga therapy training, we offer a yoga teacher training made for people who want to become yoga therapists! It’s taught by yoga therapists and focuses on building the skills you need in yoga, rather than teaching. We also offer a package that combines the yoga teacher training prerequisite with our yoga therapy training program.

3 Ways to Use Yoga for Nurses at Work

There are many ways to use yoga for nurses in their careers, and we encourage you to find whatever path works best for you. These are just 3 of the most common ways we see students move forward after yoga therapy training for nurses.

Integrate Yoga Therapy Techniques for Patients at Your Nursing Job

One option is to continue working as a nurse and use yoga therapy techniques with your patients. This is a great way to revitalize your nursing career, expand your skill set, and use a more holistic approach, leading to better patient outcomes.

Not only can yoga therapy be used to help with specific physical conditions, but also it can be used to help patients manage their stress, anxiety, and mental health. This can be a critical component lacking in traditional medical care, and it can be leveraged to improve a patient’s outcomes and general well-being. A pediatric cancer nurse who spends a lot of time with kids, for example, can teach them breathing or meditation techniques which have been shown to help manage the symptoms of cancer and its treatments.

“I am so proud to have been able to help a couple of clients in particular,” said one of the nurses in our program, Karen Cox. “One client had suffered a stroke and through our work together, I could see a dramatic improvement not only in this individual’s general health but also their outlook on life. The other success story is of a client who has been battling cancer. We worked together to enable her to better tolerate regular chemo treatments.”

The biggest challenge here is having enough time with patients. Many nurses feel rushed throughout their shifts and have less time with patients than they’d like.

For some nurses, however, this is less of a concern. Visiting nurses who go to patients’ homes and have larger roles in chronic, in-home care can teach them yoga therapy techniques throughout the course of their day.

No matter how you bring yoga into your role as a nurse, yoga therapy gives you more opportunities to support your patients and make a difference.

Help Other Nurses and Doctors Combat Anxiety and Burnout with Yoga

Yoga can work wonders in helping you and your fellow nurses, doctors, and other medical staff on a personal level as well. By using yoga therapy to reduce anxiety and burnout, you and your coworkers can become more resilient. Not only does this help your mental health, but it also allows you to perform your work better, benefiting your patients too.

Jeannine McSorley, a nurse practitioner who graduated from our program, said, “I have to say that learning the strategies and gaining the tools required to help myself stay balanced – including getting on a regular schedule, breathing practices and finding the yoga asana that’s best for me, was worth the cost of the training. But there have been other benefits. I feel more confident in helping and empowering others while remembering that healing happens from the innate wisdom within them, with me as a guide.”

With yoga therapy training for nurses, you can empower yourself and your coworkers to:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Relax more
  • Increase focus and mindfulness
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Address physical aches and pains
  • Improve posture and slouching

Steph McCreary, another student of ours, was able to apply what she learned to help a nurse in need. “Yoga therapy helped my case study client to breathe again, after losing her father to COVID early in the pandemic,” she said. “As a triage nurse working on the COVID floor, her stress levels were high, and her body was tight. Our sessions over six months showed her ability to relax, her sleep improved, and she reported moving much tension out of her system, allowing her to breathe more deeply. I was proud of our work together, even though it was such a difficult time.”

Transition from a Career in Nursing to One in Yoga Therapy

Transitioning from a nursing career to yoga therapy can be a fulfilling and rewarding journey. Not only can it enhance your own well-being, but it can also provide a fresh approach to healthcare that promotes improved self-care and satisfaction for both you and your clients.

Your nursing experience won’t go to waste as a yoga therapist. It gives you a unique perspective that blends a strong understanding of the health conditions that clients face and how they can be addressed holistically with both Western and Eastern healing. If you have developed any areas of expertise as a nurse, such as specializing in cancer, you’ll be able to leverage that knowledge and experience to serve those clients with yoga therapy as well.

We’ve seen a number of our students leave nursing for a successful career in yoga therapy. One such student, Karen Naids, needed yoga teacher training for nurses who lacked a yoga background. After completing our yoga teacher training and yoga therapy training, she said, “I still have more to learn but the biggest lesson is that it is never too late to change your career and your life! I started as a nurse with minimal yoga experience and . . . now, retired, I am able to work teaching yoga to seniors and continue to build my private client base.”

Working as a yoga therapist can also be an excellent option for those who are retiring early. If you’re still interested in working but want to set your own hours, choose your own clients, and still make a difference, yoga therapy is a perfect fit. As one of our students, Karen Cox, can attest, “I have loved yoga since I took my first class, and as much as I enjoy teaching yoga, the thought of working one-on-one with people for specific purposes appeals to me so much more. As I near the end of my career in nursing, my plan has been to start a profession as a Yoga Therapist, that I can take with me beyond retirement age.”

What Are the Benefits of Yoga for Nurses?

The benefits of yoga for nurses are numerous, both for yourselves and your patients. Some of the biggest benefits of yoga for nurses include:

  • Having more techniques to treat physical ailments. Sometimes Western techniques aren’t enough to help patients heal or find relief. Yoga therapy gives you a new toolset to use.
  • Addressing mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Traditionally, nurses are taught to focus on patients’ physical health. Mental and emotional health conditions are often referred out, and spiritual health is left unaddressed. With yoga therapy, you can help clients heal holistically.
  • Improving patient outcomes. Studies have shown that integrating yoga can improve patient outcomes. While this is a huge benefit to patients first and foremost, it also plays a major role in your job satisfaction.
  • Filling gaps in Western medicine. There are pieces missing from our current medical institution, and sometimes Western techniques fail to help patients. Yoga therapy gives you an Eastern perspective that can help address these gaps.
  • Giving patients agency over their health. Yoga therapists teach clients how to use yoga to heal themselves. Clients learn how to use these techniques on their own, empowering them to become more self-reliant when it comes to their health and well-being.
  • Improving your own health and well-being. Nursing is a demanding job, and it’s all too easy to become burned out. The yoga techniques you learn can help yourself and other medical professionals to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, relax your mind and body, sleep better, reduce fatigue, enhance concentration, and more.
  • Forging your ideal career path. Yoga therapy gives you a range of different career options, from staying at your job as a nurse to switching to a career as a yoga therapist. It offers you an in-demand skill set that can help you find meaningful work, whatever path you choose.

Get Started with Our Combined Yoga Therapy and Yoga Teacher Training for Nurses

Brandt working with a yoga therapy student on asana, demonstrating one of the benefits of yoga for nurses

Ready to get started? At Breathing Deeply, we offer a combined yoga therapy and yoga teacher training for nurses like you.

Our program uses online lessons to fit even a nurse’s busy schedule, along with live Q&A sessions so you can work directly with our experts and get your questions answered. Students have lifelong access to our community of their teachers and colleagues, giving you mentorship and camaraderie throughout your career. Learn the skills you need to help others heal with yoga alongside experts and other like-minded individuals who want to make a difference.

Contact us today to start a conversation about your journey or apply to our yoga therapy school. We look forward to hearing from you!

Info Session

Brandt talks about common questions applicants have about the Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy Program. Tune in to get the full program details.