This week I spent a few days at Collision Conference, an exhilarating and inspiring (and exhausting!) event that hosted over 11,000 people from over 300 countries: investors, sponsors and startups, primarily focused on tech. It was awesome to see these ambitious entrepreneurs all together in one place, sharing ideas and making connections. One thing I noticed as I made my way through the exhibit floor was that nearly everyone was at some point engaged in their various devices, trying to balance selling, networking and ever important face time with the workload that didn't end just because they were on the exhibit floor. I saw people carrying heavy bags, juggling phones and grabbing lunch with one hand while checking Instagram with the other.
While the vibe overall at this event was joyful, at no time did I witness anyone looking what I would call blissful. In fact, the one thing I noticed, (admittedly, as a yoga instructor) was that everyone looked like they could benefit from a nice, long, upward facing dog. "Damn," I thought, "I should host a yoga session on the 2nd floor in between workshops and give these people a break!"
I started CubeFit Yoga last year after spending 10+ years in corporate America, working primarily behind a desk when not out and about making sales calls or attending events, being worn down by a 9-5 schedule that more often than not turned into 9-9 (or if we're being real here, 9:07 to 9). Much of that time I found myself hunched over a screen of some sort, snacking on whatever office treats were around (it's always someone's birthday in the office!) and skipping workouts to get just one more thing done. Sound familiar?
Most office dwellers readily agree that corporate life makes it hard to find time for self love, be it in the form of eating healthy meals or fitting in a workout. You can forget finding time for meditation or quiet time - even the morning news is usually rushed, watching the local weather while brushing your teeth or catching up on your Twitter feed while sitting in traffic.
Throw in some unrealistic deadlines, dealing with demanding (and sometimes grouchy) colleagues and clients and overall just living what is commonly referred to as "the grind" and you can see how much just going to work every day can be a drain on a person, both mentally and physically. It's a wonder we're not all overworked, overweight and overmedicated....oh. Right.
Enter Office Yoga. This somewhat wild sounding idea came about very organically, as I worked in an office and also happened to teach yoga. One day one of my coworkers suggested that I teach a yoga class in the office one Friday. We were in a relatively small office, but we made it work. We set up mats between the cubicles and right where earlier in the day deals were being done and plans were being made, hurried footsteps turned into mindful movements and loud conversations quieted to deep breaths. Gleefully, I bore witness to a real time transformation from chaos to calm.
While yoga in the workplace can seem like an unlikely match (although they do make stretchy business pants now!), it makes sense that everything we need to be comfortable and productive in our physical body is also nice to have in our corporate culture. Who doesn't want to be (and work with people who are) more flexible, strong, and balanced? Certainly the physical benefits of yoga are well known, but it's not likely you'll do enough office yoga to lose 10 lbs or nail a handstand - but introducing yoga into your corporate culture can absolutely set changes in motion in the way the executives and employees view themselves and each other, and create a sense of mindfulness that can only benefit the business overall.
Every class I teach I'm amazed at the way people come together. Senior executives alongside young recruits, fit people next to self professed "couch potatoes" and all sizes and ages come willing to try something new, and to spend a few moments of their day without their phones (that's sometimes the most challenging part) and learning to breathe and move in ways they likely never have before. At the end of class they generally report feeling accomplished, joyful and inspired to go back to their offices and into the world with a renewed sense of self. And maybe even better posture!
I can only imagine the results on business overall if everyone making and receiving calls, leading and learning, buying or selling had just a little less stress and a little more flexibility, strength and balance in their lives and at their disposal. Hopefully as CubeFit Yoga continues to grow, I won't have to imagine - I'll see it in action with every new client. And maybe next year, if I play my Twitter cards right, attendees at Collision 2017 will have the option of yoga on the 2nd floor.
Does your office need an on site yoga session? Want to test the waters with a lunch and learn on mindfulness in the workplace? Let's chat! Email firstname.lastname@example.org - I look forward to hearing from you!