Popular Work Life

How to do yoga at work

This is not your typical yoga studio.

There are no windows. No mirrors. Industrial carpet lines the floors, and there’s a conference table in the middle of the room. One might call it “corporate.”

There’s also no instructor (well, not in-person). The instructor lives in computer-land and is projected on the screen which descends from the ceiling with the click of a button.

Not typical at all.

We can fit up to 5 people at once. Three squished together at the front and one on each side of the table between the chairs and the wall. I like to think of it as “cozy.”

To most, this is the conference room where meetings are held, pastries are eaten, and important business discussed. But to me, this is my sanctuary.

This is the place where I first held a yoga push up without going to my knees. This is where I learned to embrace shavasana for all it is worth. This is where I learned that my body could do so much more than I ever thought possible. And where I’ve learned that I may never hold crow pose but it sure is fun to laugh while trying.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, a few of my colleagues gather in this space for our practice. Sometimes it’s a quick 30-minute session because we have far too much going on. Sometimes we take almost the full lunch hour to unwind our desk-ridden bodies. No matter the time, though, I always walk away feeling refreshed and ready to take on the latter half of the day– the most challenging part for a morning person like me.

It’s not that our yoga practice is super-peaceful, or an especially quiet time to rest our minds. We’re usually gabbing and laughing all the way through (which, in a way, is when I feel most at peace). We’re just five women, trying to follow along with the instructor, admiring/hating the freakish flexibility of the yoga models, and trying our best to make this practice our own.

Since I’ve joined this small band of yogis last summer, I feel a bond with my colleagues and workplace that I never felt possible. I find myself setting my intention for the day (every day, not just on yoga days). I find myself repeating my mantra “it’s your practice” at my desk and in meetings, because this truism applies to spaces beyond the yoga mat. It calms me. It brings me to the present. It centers me.

So how can you get this yoga-zen at work?

Start with a deep breath for yourself. Take five minutes (you probably have five minutes) and breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Lengthen your breath. If you have the private space, lengthen your body. Find a mantra that works for you. “Cheesecake for dessert” might be yours. Whatever works!

Then ask someone to join you. Go on a walk together at lunch or on a break. Spend time being present with that person, intentionally engaging in life with that person.

And if you literally want to do yoga at work, try to find a space in your office/building or find a local studio that has lunch-time classes. If you opt for in-workplace yoga, there are lots of online classes or apps. Take a Bad Yogi class, or follow one of Erin’s sequences she posts in the Bad Yogi club.

But in my opinion and experience, yoga is more than a physical practice. It’s a mental one as well. So find a way to get in the yogi head space. End your work day with a “namaste.”

Anybody else have a “corporate” yoga sanctuary? Let me know below in the comments section!

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Lauren C.

    March 14, 2016 at 12:07 am

    Love this! The article wasn’t quite what I expected – I figured it was gonna be one of those “yoga poses you can do at your desk” articles, but I was pleasantly surprised. It is so nice that you have this space, time, and companions to share yoga with at work! Brings a friendly reminder to stay balanced while at work, even not on yoga days as you said.

    I have the pleasure and blessing to teach yoga once, sometimes twice, a week at my office! Usually it is a small group, but I am happy I have a very stress-free audience and it helps me to also unwind after a long day or to get ready before one. Most of all though, it has allowed me to form some awesome relationships! I am closer to some of my yogis than if we didn’t have this time and space to share with each other. It is so awesome!

    Keep it up! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Avatar

    B

    March 14, 2016 at 9:43 am

    I work for a police department, which started a free yoga class once a week two years ago. It was originally geared towards Officers, to offset the job’s combination of extremely high stress situations and long days of sitting in a patrol car. It has morphed into a combination of a crime scene technician, a health department inspector, a police sergeant, an administrative assistant and whomever else wants to join, all taught by a former US Marshal. Although it’s not a lunch-break daily practice (which sounds impossible and wonderful), it is an amazing space we create in a precinct classroom, and some of the more genuine work relationships I have. I too expected a yoga-at-your-desk article, and was pleasantly surprised. Thank you.

    1. Avatar

      Erin Motz

      March 14, 2016 at 10:55 am

      what a cool set-up!! i love hearing stories like this 🙂

    2. Avatar

      Mercedes Franco

      March 14, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Similar story in our case ….

  3. Avatar

    Mercedes Franco

    March 14, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    I work for the Army and after insisting and putting forwards all the potential benefits of having a Yoga class….. I got the funding for a weekly Yoga class…. We are on our second Yoga teacher, as the first one emigrated to Australia (not running away from us), but that class in the rehabilitation Gym gets together Officers and not Officers, Civilian staff that works in the base and all kinds and sorts… Every wednesday at around 1325 everybody is waiting for those magical words after a Yoga flow: “and now lie down and… take rest…..”

  4. Megan Reddix

    Megan Reddix

    July 25, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    Love this! I don’t think I could get anyone in my office to do yoga with me, since I work in an office full of older men and just a couple of women who typically work in the field. We are an engineering firm. I take my lunch to practice. We have a bathroom that is immaculate. Like the cleanest bathroom you would ever see. It’s warm. It’s never used. So I use it as my lunch time yoga space. I know that may seem weird, but I like it. It’s my time to get away for just a moment.

  5. Avatar

    PoliceEducation

    February 27, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    Hi there, I read through a few of your articles here. I did have a question though that I hope you could answer.
    I was wondering, Why do firefighters, policemen, soldiers,
    and other life threating jobs make so little when pro athletes make millions?

    I would really appreciate any help you could give me!

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