How Yoga Makes Me A Better Doctor
I had my dream job in my dream location. I was working in a private infectious disease group at four busy hospitals in the vibrant city of Miami. So why was I miserable?
As I reflect back on a year of running from one hospital to another, endless traffic, long shifts and working weekends, I feel grateful that I was able to pull myself out of the chaos and restore balance in my life.
The American mentality is one that allows — and even encourages — this sort of workaholic behavior. In fact, more than half of Americans didn’t take a vacation in 2015. Instead, many of us spent our time chasing one career goal after another in the belief that each step will finally lead to happiness — rather than realizing that happiness paves the way to professional success. As Emma Seppala, the science director for Stanford University’s Center for Altruism and Compassion Research and Education, describes it, we are addicted to “successaholism.”
Most in our society would look at my job and think I must be happy, because career success is happiness, right? Thankfully, my background in yoga gave me the perspective I needed to make the choice to alter my lifestyle and to find happiness in more than just my job.
Yoga also taught me to be a better doctor. Here’s how.
Yoga Teaches Me to Relax
When I was experiencing burnout in my position at the hospital, yoga became my solace and my respite where I could feel relaxation, release and relief. It wasn’t until after I went on a yoga retreat to Peru that I realized I needed to make a life change, and I promptly quit my job and began working locum tenens assignments, choosing when I and where I work.
The flexibility of locums gave me the freedom to practice medicine and focus on yoga, and restored the work/life balance I never thought was possible as a physician. I finally had the time to not only practice yoga but also become a certified instructor. Now that I can practice medicine and yoga simultaneously, I find myself much more attentive to my patients, more concerned for their personal well-being and calmer at the clinic.
Yoga is a philosophy and a way of life that I leverage to improve my medical work. With its ideology in mind, I can react positively to factors I can’t control and perceive situations without panic — and I encourage my patients to do the same.
Yoga Teaches Me to Persevere
Yoga is a continuous path of self-discovery and determination. Through my yoga practice, I have learned to find balance, to never give up, and embrace failure. I share this mentality with my patients. I remind them that their diagnosis isn’t the end of the road, and with a hopeful attitude and the proper regimen, they can have great quality of life. Yoga has taught me to be committed to my goals and to find pride in incremental growth. I use that principle to guide my patients as well, helping them celebrate small wins in maintaining and improving their health.
Yoga Teaches Me to Think Outside the Box
I specialize in HIV care and prevention, general infectious diseases and internal medicine. Though I’ve been practicing medicine for more than a decade, I still learn new methods and techniques to help my patients live healthier lives.
Yoga has taught me to go beyond simple traditional medicine and to focus on all aspects of health and wellness, within both the body and spirit. I encourage my patients to not only improve the health of their physical bodies, but their minds as well.
Yoga has also taught me to think outside of the box in my own career. With a little ingenuity and resourcefulness, I’ve been able to carve out my own professional path that includes working locum tenens in North Dakota, managing my own part-time private practice in South Florida, and focusing on yoga everywhere I go.
Though I love being a doctor, this new well-rounded professional trajectory has given me the freedom to explore different passions, while also becoming an even better doctor than I thought I could be. I’ve traded “successaholism” for a more holistic approach to my life and my practice, both in yoga and in medicine.
Dr. Wecker bio is below keep scrolling down.
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