Work Life

Off the Mat Yoga: My Secret Workday Ritual

We’ve all been there. The project at work that has you pulling your hair out, constantly checking your email, and is seemingly taking over your life.

That’s the phase of life that I’m in right now: After moving to Boston about a year ago, I took a marketing position at a software startup. The role is equal parts marketing and event coordination, and our current project is planning a two day conference in New York City. We’re down to the wire, and my stress level is through the roof.

Stress and anxiety manifest themselves very clearly in my body—specifically, my shoulders, neck, and back. Everything seems to tighten and it’s an uphill battle of posture correction and attempts to loosen up. Yoga seems to be my only salvation.

In my work environment, I can’t exactly break out my mat during the day and start going through my flow. It’s a fast-paced environment, lately even more so. The best I can do is hold off until class where I can find one hour of sweet, perfect bliss and the right level of activity for me. But lately that hasn’t been enough. So how do I translate my internal practice off the mat into my everyday work life?

Wait for it: the bathroom.

Typically I’m so busy at work I forget to be conscious of the fact that I should be taking care of myself. For a while I wasn’t drinking enough water, or averting my eyes from my screen to avoid headaches. Some days I can even feel my body locking up from sitting in my chair for too long. So I made a conscious decision: no matter how busy I am, I need to get up from my desk and take a break every hour. That walk to the bathroom gets me moving, helps clear my mind, and gets my eyes off the computer screen. It is my “me time”.

Even if I don’t need to use the restroom, it still helps me to take five minutes away from the chaos of the work day to myself. I can leave the office and refocus my mind. I just mutter my mantra to myself repeatedly: “Refocus. You can do this. Dig deep and summon your strength.” That’s it—it’s so simple, but it helps me refocus my energy especially on the toughest days while simultaneously affirming myself. On the tougher days, there is admittedly some profanity in there. 

Every once in a while you take a yoga class (or do any physical activity) that is so hard you feel like you’re going to die. Everything hurts, you’re stretching muscles you don’t recognize, and you’re trying not to cry. It’s totally brutal, but at least fifty percent of that pain is mental. It’s you, slowly relinquishing control to the physical pain and allowing it to beat you down. As I get closer to my event next week, that’s the same mentality I’m feeling—like I’m running a marathon and I’m at mile 24, but my legs are giving out.

So I continue to strive for the kind of mental peace that I get at the end of class after a really great Savasana. Since the easiest way for me to achieve this at work is on my walk to the bathroom, that’s where I take it. The most important thing in yoga (and life) is our mentality: When you feel like giving up, don’t.

Of course that’s easier said than done, but that’s why we keep working at it daily. Whatever works to achieve your inner calm, do it. Keep taking the hard classes in life, and keep kicking ass.

How do you take your yoga off the mat? Share below any of your daily rituals inspired by your yoga practice!

4 Comments

  1. Amanda

    Amanda

    August 19, 2016 at 8:38 am

    This is great! I like to remind my students as we close the class that the calm they feel now is accessible to them at any time. An “advanced” yogi isn’t one who can do 19 handstand variations….it’s someone who knows how to take what they’ve learned on the mat and apply it to life. 🙂

    1. Avatar

      Brittany Manning

      August 27, 2016 at 5:59 pm

      What a great reminder! Handstands and flexibility are awesome for strength building and fitness, but it’s applying what we learn from the mat in life that makes a real yogi. thanks!

  2. Megan Reddix

    Megan Reddix

    August 19, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    I love this little reminder about being mindful! That walk to and from the restroom gives your mind a moment to clear up and refirm itself in the moment. I take one day a week to reestablish myself completely. It’s typically a Friday when work is a little slow. I complete the tasks that are pressing and then I go to town cleaning my space. I take everything out, dust, reorganize, and it helps me look forward to the week ahead in a super clean office.

  3. Avatar

    Brittany Manning

    August 27, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Wonderful. My anxiety and stress manifest it’s self in muscle tension too. How logical that my decreasing the anxiety I can help in decreasing the tension. How vital to find ways to relax my mind. I would like to say, I used to by fooled into thinking, but who am I kidding, I’m still am fooled in to thinking that I’m too busy to take a time out, it won’t really help, or that I am not being professional if I don’t just plow through it (“only wussies take breaks). But what does that do? Who does that REALLY serve? …like, literally no one. I will try to be ever more mindful of the IMPORTANCE of keeping mindful of myself and my mental needs. Keeping my anxiety low to help me be better, more productive person, and better team member in the spheres of influence in my life.

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