Yoga Health Foundation

Yoga Pilot Program Helps Docs De-Stress at Lenox Hill Hopsital

Studies show high stress, exhaustion even depression are not uncommon in resident physicians and has prompted one doctor in charge of a medical resident program to try and change that. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.

A moment of meditation for medical residents at Manhattan's Lenox Hill Hospital is a welcome break from the pressures of residency.

"I came in with completely black hair and I am pretty much almost all grey now," said Medical Resident Niket Sonpal.

"You’ll get paged once and you’re getting ready to answer the page and you get paged three more times," said Medical Resident Zakaria Majeed.

To help residents better manage the rigors of residency, Dr. Robert Graham, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital, recently launched the "Lenox Chill" initiative -- a month long optional yoga course for the hospital's medical residents.

"Residency tends to be a very stressful situation both financially, personally, physically clinically and there's really no introduction of self care and well being to our residents and I think it's important to introduce certain techniques like yoga and meditation so we can improve both the physicians' well being and self care and then hopefully translate into better patient care," Graham said.

Dr. Graham's wife Julie, a yoga instructor, runs the class. She takes residents through stretching and breathing exercises from the comfort of a conference room: No mat or change of clothes required.

"I really like that it was actually structured for me in my day already at work because it's hard for me to allocate time to go to a gym," said Medical Resident Valentina Rodriguez.

"I found that I enjoyed it I was able to be happier as the day," Sonpal said.

Residents who spoke with NY1 say they find themselves practicing yoga well after the class ends.

"We have been incorporating them into our work day sometimes we'll take extra five minutes to sit down in a quiet place and do some of our mindful meditations or yoga stretches," said Medical Resident Marelle Yehuda.

Seeing its impact, Dr. Graham hopes to stretch the pilot program into a more permanent one.

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Written by Yuan Fisslinger, PhD(c)