Last week I was grateful to teach a series of office yoga sessions for a huge global real estate company with several DC locations as part of their employee health & wellness program. After spending three days in a row in Bethesda (Tues), Washington, DC (Wed) and Tysons Corner (Thurs) teaching the benefits of yogic breathing and movement (yoga asana) in conference rooms, I realized a few things:
- Yoga is accessible to everyone, anywhere, anytime. In these office yoga sessions I actually taught “chair yoga” – breathing, mindfulness and movement techniques people can do at a desk without a yoga mat, in work attire. There were a few people with physical limitations and they were able to do most of the breathing & movement. Again, yoga is accessible to everyone, anywhere, anytime.
- I am doing exactly what I’m suppose to be doing – teaching yoga. As a former corporate soldier, I can relate to my audience. When I go into an office and teach yoga to people who are chained to their desks all day, I naturally seem to be able to speak about yoga in a way that they understand. I can empathize as I lived and breathed corporate lifestyle for 10+ years.
- P90X is turning people (men) on to yoga. In both the Bethesda and DC offices, I had more men attending than usual. On top of that, the men were asking multiple questions about yoga — breathing questions, pose specifics, how often they should practice, etc. This was a shift. Usually when I teach yoga in corporate settings it’s mostly women showing up and they have little experience with yoga. When I would ask these “guys” about their yoga experience, they each had done the P90X yoga. I’ve never seen P90X to give it a proper evaluation, though what I’m comfortable saying is that if it’s getting people (particularly men) to try yoga then awesome!
- A lot of people have long commutes. When a woman in the Bethesda office told me she commuted from/to Ashburn, VA each day I quickly realized a) I am grateful to no longer commute 60+ minutes each way/day, and b) commuting is the perfect time to practice yoga. I’m not suggesting anyone bust out a downward facing dog on the bus/metro/highway. Regardless of your commute time & mode of transportation, breathing is a yoga technique one can practice anywhere, anytime. Breathing is an essential part of yoga and it requires no special equipment except for YOU to PAY ATTENTION to it. The more you can practice actively slowing down the breath, the more you’ll be able to slow down your mind and relax your body.
- People are enthusiastic about “their” yoga. In each office I visited, at least a couple of participants wanted to chat me up about their yoga teacher or the style of yoga they practice. I loved it! Whether it was P90X, Bikram, Gentle or Vinyasa Yoga, I could see the glow in their eyes and feel the love for their practice.
I share all this as I realize I’m lucky to be what I’m doing. I love that I continue to learn as I do what I love. It’s also great to know I’m helping people open their eyes to doing yoga beyond a yoga studio. So many think they need a yoga mat, 90 minute class or a special yoga outfit to benefit from yoga. Not true! Just a few minutes movement and active breathing every hour can do wonders. Recent research from the Mayo Clinic shows that lack of movement (due to working at a desk all day, long commutes, watching TV for hours on end, etc.) can be worse than smoking and can defeat the efforts of a weekly exercise routine. This is proof enough that office bound people need to find ways to feel and be healthy…and this is just another reason why I love teaching office yoga.