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Lim Uses Yoga to Help DHS Staff Get Healthy

Date: 06/23/2018

By Kev Moyè

DHS Media Specialist/Writer      

Standing barefoot on personal Yoga mats with their arms stretched high, nine members of Department of Human Services (DHS) staff stood poised in silence. Some had their eyes open, others had their eyes closed.               

The only noise in the small Central Office conference room came from either Yoga instructor Siewlee Lim, or the classical music that consisted of a slow and soothing piano and violin combination.     

“Inhale. … Exhale. … Nice and easy. … Breathe slowly,” Lim softly said while leading a stretch.

A 1999 graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, Lim migrated from Malaysia to the United States to be closer to her sister, who was attending the University of Arkansas.

For DHS, Lim is a Research Project Analyst in the Cost Allocation unit of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.

A mother of two boys, she’s a certified group fitness instructor, but Yoga is her favorite. Lim is in bliss every time she teaches the lunchtime Yoga class.            

“Many of us sit around at the office all day working at a computer, and that’s not good for your body,” she said. “I want to help DHS staff get healthy in the most convenient way possible, and that’s through lunchtime Yoga.”

During a scary situation, Siewlee truly witnessed the value of Yoga.

“A little over three years ago, my mother was sick,” Lim said. “When she was discharged from the hospital, mom lost most of her mobility. I encouraged her to start with some functional Yoga stretches on a daily basis. Seeing how Yoga played a role in helping my mother regain her mobility and her independence, I feel the need to spread this practice to help others.”

Yoga consists of breathing exercises, meditation, and putting the body in positions that stretch and flex certain muscle groups. Increased muscle strength, improved respiration, more energy, and weight reduction are the physical benefits of Yoga.

The meditation, breathing patterns, and functional movements of Yoga also help to improve a person mentally.

“Yoga works! Sometimes I do my own Yoga for 20 minutes before work, and it helps me stay fit and stay focused,” said Lim. “That’s why I wanted to teach Yoga to my DHS family.”    

The classes take place on Tuesday and Thursday of each week. Lim – who speaks five languages – went through a long process to get permission to establish the Yoga class. So what was her reaction when she finally got approval?

“I quickly went to my coworkers and said, ‘All of you – you need to enroll right now!’”

Regarding work, Lim enjoys her main duty for DHS and the knowledge she gains that can be used to benefit her friends.

“My responsibility for the Cost Allocation unit is to collect data from the different divisions so the agency can accurately report the costs of providing assistance and services to families in need,” Lim said. “By providing information for monthly and quarterly reports, the divisions can track and report expenses by grant, program and type of expense to maximize federal and other funding.”

“Through my position, I’ve also learned how the divisions work to address community needs.”

One DHS program Lim has discovered is the Division of County Operations (DCO) program LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program).

“I’ll always remember when I learned how LIHEAP helps people – who qualify – pay their utilities,” she said. “Later that day, I immediately went to my church family and spread the word about LIHEAP.”

Lim not only seeks ways to inform her fellow church members of helpful programs, but she’s also the lead pianist for her church’s music ministry. Whether it’s connecting people to resources they need, playing piano, or teaching free Yoga and aerobics courses, Lim aims to help everybody live in peace and harmony.

“I’m certified in Yoga, so why wouldn’t I use my expertise to help people?,” she said. “It’s no different than using my skills to help people in other parts of my life.”                     

(Siewlee Lim was nominated and featured for the Living the Mission series at DHS, which focuses on staff members who go above and beyond their typical functions. If you know someone who lives the mission of DHS and should be featured for the Living the Mission series, contact Kev Moyè at kevin.moye@dhs.arkansas.gov.)       

Arkansas Department
of Human Services
(501) 682-1001

TTY: 1-800-285-1131 or dial 711 for Arkansas Relay Service

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