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Summa Health's Workplace Wellness Program

Posted June 14, 2021 by Kevin James Karas, E-RYT 500

yoga festival

In a society that is constantly filled with stress and disease, especially in the role of a healthcare worker, we need to find something to turn to which offers a sustainable solution to addressing life’s difficulties. One solution may be found from three very hot wellness topics of yoga, mindfulness and self care practices. If any of these spark your interest, you won’t want to stop reading because this article will provide you with not only information but more importantly some very experiential practices to bring wellness into your daily life. So let’s begin!

Acknowledging Life’s Difficulties

First things first, we gotta be honest. You probably wouldn’t be reading this article if you didn’t have some level of stress, challenge and difficulty in your life which you are looking for a solution too. One of the first steps to making a change is acknowledging at what point life became too much and when you may have lost focus on the habits and rituals which kept you well. And it happens to all of us, life gets busy, big changes happen, and we get out of rhythm, fall off our diet, exercise or sleep routines.

And we know that stress negatively effects many bodily systems but what people don’t often recognize is the negative effect that stress has on those nearest to us. Face it, when you are stressed, you don’t show up as your best self. In interpersonal relationships, you may be having more conflicts or overall disconnection. And in the professional setting, this can even lead to issues and mistakes which could cost you or your company money. So the stress associated with not caring for one’s wellness not only has personal effects, it also can affect you interpersonally, professionally and beyond.

So, this article isn’t meant to scare you but rather to encourage you. To encourage you first and foremost to acknowledge if life’s gotten away from you and you may have lost a wellness practice that works for you. Recognize the negative effect that has on you and start by introducing those practices back into your life. The exciting news is that yoga and mindfulness are effective solutions to reducing many of the negative effects of stress and have a positive effect on one’s personal wellbeing. If you are new to yoga, mindfulness and self-care practices, then read on for lessons and practices which you might really enjoy.


Yoga has become a very well-known practice at gyms and yoga studios for increasing strength and flexibility while reducing stress but it is much more than meets the eye. Don’t fall for the stereotype images of skinny, young, white women wearing very little clothes and being in very acrobatic postures as all that yoga is. Yoga is something that anyone can do and it is much more than the photos we see on social media. It’s a whole system of lifestyle practices we can engage in from the moment we wake up till when we go to bed that involve breathing exercises, meditation, postures and a system of ethics found in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. And know if you have hesitations about yoga being against your beliefs, it’s understandable because yoga comes from India with a different “eastern” perspective on life, but many yoga masters actually encourage yoga as a complimentary practice to whatever the practitioners belief system. So, try to be open to yoga as something that works in harmony with your belief system rather than something separate that goes against. Try this simple action of taking a deep breath in, let it go and know that you are already doing yoga.


Mindfulness, much like yoga, has also gained much popularity and comes from a similar yet different eastern belief system. However, mindfulness truly became popular through research conducted at the University of Massachusetts Research Hospital by a researcher known as John Kabat-Zinn. His work kept all the core practices, but left the belief systems out of it. Since his initial work, the research on mindfulness has expanded to countless articles around the benefits of mindfulness practices and the practice is showing up in schools, the workplace, and even in our own congressman Tim Ryan’s office. It’s a simple collection of practices such as breath awareness, body scan or loving-kindness techniques which encourage us to be fully in the present moment without judgment and aware. Engaging in mindfulness practices is one of the best ways to raise one’s level of overall awareness.

Self care

Last but not least, self care practices include a collection of lifestyle practices from different historical and modern cultures which encourage wellness for different dimensions of self. For example, self care must look at one’s diet, exercise, relaxation, breathing, sleep, positive thinking and healthy relationships with family, friends and coworkers for the total picture of health. How can we look at these different dimensions of self and make sure that the various areas are balanced and healthy? It’s done through engaging in regular practices with trusted teacher/s and having a supportive community to help in times when it is difficult to stay disciplined.

So, now that you have a little more information on yoga, mindfulness and self care practices, all that’s left is to do them!

Thanks to a partnership with Summa Health and Elevate Akron, two established organizations in Northeast Ohio, we are able to provide you with a 3-part series of short Workplace Wellness programs specifically for Healthcare Heros. These videos are released online as follows:

Relaxing Yoga for Wellness - February 18th 2021

Welcome to our 3-part series on yoga, mindfulness & self-care for our Healthcare Heros. Caring for others can be exhausting. Relax and let go of the stress with a gentle restorative yoga practice to calm your body & mind. During this practice, you will learn simple poses & breathing techniques which can easily be done any time of the day to rest and replenish your energy.

Introduction to Mindfulness for Self & Caring for Others - April 15th 2021

During this second session on yoga, mindfulness & self-care for our Healthcare Heros, enjoy mindfulness practices for increasing your concentration, relaxation and ability to express the best version of yourself when caring for others. It can be so easy to develop compassion fatigue and in this session, we’ll learn how mindfulness can help us to connect more fully with one’s self and those we care for. 

Sustaining Our Self-Care with Deep Relaxation - June 17th 2021

As the final session of our 3-part series on yoga, mindfulness & self-care for our Healthcare Heros, we’ll learn about sustaining our self-care with practices for relaxation, healthy sleep, and to raise our self-awareness. This session we will engage in a deeply relaxing breath and guided body scan technique to deepen self awareness and replenish the body, mind and spirit.

Tips for watching

The videos are pre-recorded and will be available online so feel free to rewatch whenever you need a wellness pick-me-up! And remember, the benefits of these practices come with time and discipline, so keep diligent, make the time in your day and good luck! If you have any questions, my information is below. I welcome any emails and questions. Further, we hope that you will consider learning more about Elevate Akron and attending our annual summer yoga festival uniting our wellness community.

About the Author

Kevin James Karas, E-RYT 500, is Executive Director of Elevate Akron, a yoga non-profit which has served to make yoga accessible to 13,000 people in Akron, OH. He researches the contemplative practices and presence of master teachers of yoga, meditation and holistic education and applies the findings by leading 200 and 300 hour holistic yoga school programs at his intentional living community founded in 2016, Rogue Awakening and The Shaw JCC of Akron. He also facilitates Guided Sound Journey meditations alongside SEER music to make meditations accessible online on Insight Timer as well as in-person at yoga studios & festivals to 1000’s.


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