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Thanks to VetYogi, an online yoga business created specifically for veterinary professionals, a ‘vet yogi’ can bend, stretch and meditate their way to physical and psychological health. By Dr Phil Tucak
Amidst the busy pressures of veterinary practice, sharing the benefits of the mind, body and spirit philosophy of yoga to aid veterinary wellbeing is the focus of veterinarian Dr Chloe Hannigan’s online veterinary yoga business VetYogi.
‘Stethoscope down, yoga up’ is the catchcry of VetYogi, a yoga, meditation and wellbeing company run by Dr Hannigan for veterinary professionals. Having decided to qualify as a yoga teacher to teach yoga and meditation in an evidence-based and accessible form to suit the schedules of those in the veterinary community, Dr Hannigan started VetYogi in 2017 determined to present yoga in a way that was relevant to the often unique challenges faced by those working in veterinary practice.
“Having worked in Australia, New Zealand and extensively in my native United Kingdom, I came to see how similar the veterinary practice cultures—and unfortunately, the challenges—are in all three countries,” explains Dr Hannigan.
“I worked with some fantastic people during my time down under, many of whom I’m lucky to still call friends, and with them experienced firsthand the veterinary life and issues in Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, as soon as I launched VetYogi, an online service that is globally accessible, I really wanted to be able to offer it to colleagues with the same needs as veterinary staff here in the UK.”
VetYogi provides tailored yoga and meditation classes, workshops, retreat days and conference speaker sessions at both virtual and in-person events. Earlier this year, Dr Hannigan launched the VetYogi Collective—an online wellbeing subscription service that offers a mix of on-demand and live yoga and meditation classes.
“We create exclusive content for the whole veterinary team and offer a variety of styles of yoga and meditation styles and membership benefits, to suit each role in our community, from vets and nurses and techs, to receptionists, managers and non-clinical team members. For instance, the needs of vets and nurses who may spend all of their shift on their feet, are very different to the needs of receptionists and managers who may be sitting down for most of their shift dealing with people non-stop,” says Dr Hannigan.
“We wanted to reflect these differences, alongside having content that appeals to everyone, and we offer classes ranging from just a couple of minutes, all the way up to full 60- to 90- minute classes, and a variety of yoga and meditation styles from traditional hatha, challenging vinyasa and relaxing yin, with everything in between.”
After graduating from the Royal Veterinary College in London in 2012, Dr Hannigan initially volunteered as a veterinarian in the Cook Islands before working in mixed-animal practice in the UK.
She then travelled to Australia and New Zealand working as a locum veterinarian for several years before returning to the UK where she now works part-time as a locum small animal clinician while running the VetYogi business.
“I really love being part of a vet team. My time working down under was some of my favourite years of my career thus far. I couldn’t get enough of the wombats and other wildlife, though definitely don’t miss dealing with tick paralysis and snake bites,” she says.
“Too many members of our global veterinary community are finding themselves physically or mentally broken by the job, leading to poor health and retention issues. The practice of yoga for veterinary professionals can help us so that when we have to bend, we don’t break.”
With the benefits of yoga and meditation well known—both have been shown to help alleviate stress, anxiety and insomnia, as well as improve flexibility, strength and cardiovascular health—Dr Hannigan has developed VetYogi for individuals to access directly or organisations to offer to their employees.
“Veterinary professionals are prone to problems such as anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and back injuries, often at great cost both mentally as well as financially to both the individual and employer. Our membership is open both to individuals and practices, or businesses that want to provide an accessible wellbeing resource for their team around the clock, making self-care a habit rather than an intermittent box-ticking exercise,” says Dr Hannigan.
“Our entire mission is to help the veterinary community to improve their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. If we can be even just a small part of encouraging someone to take some deep breaths in a time of crisis, enjoy their downtime guilt-free, or wake up with more energy and less injuries, then we can’t really ask for more.”
Dr Hannigan says that one of her favourite things about the practice of yoga is that it is a lifelong learning journey.
“There is always more to discover, more skills to gain, and more knowledge to garner, so from the perspective of variety, challenge and novelty, it ticks a lot of my boxes. There are a lot of transferable skills you can take off the yoga mat, and into veterinary practice—such as patience, resilience, managing stress and that inner negative voice, so in many ways it not only makes me a better person, but also a better vet.”