As an acupuncturist spending a few short months in Nepal, I often wondered if the healthcare we were offering was making any lasting difference. I saw many chronic issues related to the stress of a difficult lifestyle and cold climate. I would ask myself how I could best help my patients in the long run. Since many of my patients suffered from low back pain, I recognized that some gentle stretching exercises would probably help them a lot.
Here in Nepal, there is very little yoga or other stretching done within the culture. I decided that I could either teach them individually or in a group setting. From my own experience practicing yoga, I noticed that people are often much more likely to stretch in a class together and it is helpful to the overall healing process to share experience with others. So, I chose a date to have a Back Stretching Workshop and my colleagues and I started putting the word out during our clinic treatments. I wondered if the people of Chapagaon would be excited to learn some new skills to help themselves live more pain free? Many of our patients travel 2-3 hours or more to the clinic, usually on foot. Would they make the journey?
On the first day, 10 people showed up and we all joined on the rooftop patio, elbow to elbow, on bamboo mats to learn some basic yoga stretches. Sonya, one of our clinic’s dedicated interpreters, helped them understand my directions and move into the stretches. They did a great job of picking up the poses, with drawings to take home so they could continue. And at the end, they couldn’t wait to come back to class the following week. It was one of the most gratifying things I did while working at the clinic!
I loved their enthusiasm and willingness to learn. It was simple, it brought people together, and it gave them a tool they could use for their own well-being. –Leela
Admin note: Leela Longson is now practicing at Confluence Clinic in Portland Oregon. We sincerely thank Leela for her contributions in providing basic healthcare at our clinic in Nepal and wish her success in her new clinic practice.