Yoga in the Workplace: Make it Happen - Let it Happen. Win Either Way.
Life seems complicated. Every single day, with the exception of Saturdays, I spend a focused 45-75 minutes with groups of people who are doing something about life.
So everyday we either pack ourselves together in a small room or spread out in a big one, and then yoga happens. Yoga, happening in the middle of the workday in a huge corporation! Everyone else outside of the four walls that secure us are eating, working, texting, meeting, talking, wishing. Hundreds of people in the same buildings and thousands on the same campuses are going busily about their day while we are stopping everything.
I know what people have to do to orchestrate their day to come to lunchtime yoga classes. I have spent more of my life working in an office environment than I have spent working outside of them. It's precisely my years spent in the office and workplace setting that moves me to teach yoga within them. And I understand the challenge of meeting deadlines, or scheduled meetings, or unscheduled meetings that suddenly foil our well thought-out plans. Plus, we have to eat.
Working at work is a priority; we make verbal and written contracts to say we will do our best at work. But where is the contract that says we will work so hard that at the end of the day we drop from exhaustion and have no energy left for our families or ourselves when we leave? It doesn't exist except for in our minds and we have to understand that.
Once people realize that how they feel internally impacts how they work, they are motivated to do something about it. In other words, they do their best when they feel their best. So they do something about feeling their best. This understanding makes them into excellent composers who orchestrate their day to stop everything. They make yoga class happen. It's on their calendar, it's communicated to their manager, they leave a few minutes early if they have to. They adjust and make it happen. After class, people tell me how important it is to "make yoga happen" during the workday. They not only look forward to it, but sometimes people come to work for yoga when instead they could work remotely from home! I get to hear about how they managed to make it today despite the impromptu meeting their manager sprung on their department, and other similar stories.
Each time they succeed and make it happen, they have handed to themselves a gift that will never sit on the shelf and collect dust. Stopping everything is the most practical gift. This gift goes everywhere with them and finds itself within everything they do. This gift of stopping everything, stopping everything to start something intentionally, is a gift that will continue to unfold and unfold. Because life seems complicated, we have to take time to simplify it. Our society's demands will not simplify life for us, in fact those demands seem to add to complication, so we have to do that work. We have to make yoga happen.
Sometimes work demands simply get in the way, and there is a short or long-term absence from someone's ability to attend lunchtime yoga. Or family responsibilities result in missed evening classes. But why does it matter so much? Yoga class isn't the only place to practice physical yoga postures and breathwork. It's just one. And it certainly isn't the only place where we can stop everything.
The only place to practice is wherever you are. It's not at the 6:00 p.m. yoga class at the studio, or the lunchtime yoga class at work. It's wherever you are. That means, if you missed today's class, no one has taken anything away from you, not your refuge from work, or your retreat from a busy day, or your physical and mental conditioning, or your 50 minutes to stop everything that's flying and zipping all around you. But one person does have the power to take all of that away from you. That person is you.
Refrain from withholding this gift from yourself just because today didn't go as planned.
The flexibility yoga poses create for the physical body has to naturally work its way into the mental body, the mind. Think flexibly. How can you imagine or re-imagine how yoga happens today? What does today's practice look like? Maybe it's a seated fold from your office chair, or angel wings while you read a report on your computer monitor. Maybe you gift yourself 30 seconds to take 5 slow breaths. If you don't have a private workspace, be open with your coworkers about what you're doing. They may actually have questions about yoga that you can answer. Maybe you'll spark their own interest in yoga.
Life seems complicated. Our contracts at work and at home are complicated. We have a million distractions bombarding us for our attention and whole lot of responsibilities. If we do nothing to simplify our lives we cannot hold the managers, company policies, or our spouses or partners responsible for this; we can only hold ourselves responsible. If you couldn't make it to practice yesterday, today, or tomorrow, it doesn't really matter. Just replace the gift you didn't give with another gift, and stop everything even if just for a short moment. Let yoga happen and you'll feel way better than if you didn't.
Think flexibly and let your practice happen wherever you are.
P.S. Stay-tuned for more resources on integrating yoga postures and breathwork into your day!