Workplace yoga differs from your typical yoga studio experience. Sure, practicing yoga in a dedicated space can be pleasant – but it’s not necessary. A wood-planked yoga studio with images of eastern saints may seem serene to some, but to others it can be intimidating. In some cases, the trappings of spirituality can even dissuade new students from attending their first class.
At the office, it doesn’t take much to turn a space into a temporary yoga studio. Conference tables, open spaces, and break rooms suffice.
The necessary elements of a successful office yoga program are only twofold: support from leadership and a good teacher. As you search for your in-house yogi, it's reasonable to try out several teachers. (And ask introductory rates for your first class.) Once this partnership is in place:
Workplace yoga offers 3 distinct benefits over the studio experience:
Convenient Classes. The image of the stressed-out yogi banging on the steering wheel because they are late to class is nearly cliché. It's not uncommon to greet students in their business-casual dress just seconds before class starts, frazzled and intensely concerned about being late. Hopefully, someone remembers to laugh at the irony of stressing over yoga. Office yoga, on the other hand, is the ultimate convenience. Whether you offer a 30-Minute “No-Sweat” Class in the middle of the day or a 60-minute mat class at 4pm, on-site yoga cuts the commute as well as the road rage.
Productivity Where It Counts. How can we be more productive at work? The personality traits nurtured in yoga directly combat the phenomenon of presenteeism - where employees show up for work but don’t perform at full capacity. Western science is beginning recognize and define the benefits of consistent yoga practice. They've identified four neural pathways¹ targeted through yoga and meditation:
- Reaction to stress and speed of recovery from it
- Compassion and empathy
- Circuitry for attention & habits of focus
- Sense of self and purpose
On the individual level, any consistent and informed yoga practice will encourage these traits. However, the shared experience of workplace yoga holds remarkable potential at the level of the group. It’s no longer a luxury to have some kind of toolkit to navigate the pressures of the technological age. Being conscious to your breath is one the fastest ways to calm down and center. A work environment where you can trust your colleagues to do so, and where you have a shared understanding of how, is immensely worthwhile.
The Client Is In Control. With office yoga, the teacher works for you. Your in-house yogi adapts to fit your company’s culture, time constraints, and goals. This differs from the typical yoga studio experience, where students shop around for the ideal combination of strong teachers, relevant classes, and a culture that feels relatable. An experienced corporate yoga teacher alleviates these compromises, especially weeks and months into the partnership as the teacher gets to know the individual employees, their stories, and what makes the team click.
It’s expected that 1-in-5 companies will offer some sort of on-site yoga or mindfulness amenity by year’s end. Workplace yoga is small investment that addresses big picture challenges. Schedule your first class today!
Sandra Malm is the Lead Teacher at Raleigh, NC-based Awake Corporate Yoga
¹ Goleman, D. D. (2017). Altered Traits Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body. Avery Pub Group.