Stretch Breaks/ Yoga Classes

3 women in yoga pose
Dance Artists-in-Residence, (left to right) Katie Harris Banks, Deborah Riley, and Alison Waldman.

Currently, the Arts and Humanities boasts hospital stretch breaks and lunchtime yoga sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  The “Ready to Move” program serves more over a 150 staff members per week.  The noontime yoga courses have expanded so much we often run out of yoga mats and have begun asking participants to bring their own.  Whereas three years ago it was unusual to get more than 6 people in a class, now it is unusual to get less than 8!  

Katie Harris Banks couldn’t believe the shift in culture she saw after being away from the program for four years.  “When I was here before,” she said, “people would just wave me away”.  “Now, if I miss a day, they ask, ‘where were you’? They really love the stretch breaks.” The Arts and Humanities dance program continues to grow and thrive.

Our yoga classes have grown in size significantly this year – we have some dedicated staff members who attend almost every yoga session offered. Deborah Riley provides yoga on Mondays, Alison Waldman provides yoga on Wednesdays, and Katie Harris Banks teaches yoga on Thursdays.

“Thank you for your gentle yoga class. I needed it after this weekend. I was feeling pretty down, but seeing you and your positive attitude brightened my day! Thanks for being such a light!” – medical staff member

For medical staff members under constant pressure, the release of half an hour of yoga appears to do a world of good.

Ready to Move Program:

The Ready-to-Move Program, providing stretch breaks for staff continues to be one of the AHP’s most popular programs.  In addition to their regularly scheduled stretch breaks with MGUH nurses, medical technicians, assistants and others, the dancers-in-residence are often asked to provide “special event” stretch breaks for different members of the MGUH team.  For example, recently, Alison Waldman offered a special event stretch break for the MGUH Department of Mission and Pastoral Care. The chaplains, who work with transplant patients, needed to take some time to take care of themselves. Alison taught them simple stretches, and breathing techniques to help them relax and release some of the tension that comes with their exceptionally important work.