As I observe what is happening in the workplace, I often pose the question “Can Yoga principles live in harmony with business goals?”
Of course, my answer is “yes”. In fact, I think Yoga at work can help you be even more effective at meeting the goals and demands of your workplace.
Take a moment to think about a difficult work situation or a challenging co-worker. It is likely you became a little bit agitated or stressed just thinking about this situation. Your thoughts alone about the situation created the stress. The second Yoga Sutra, which provides a definition of Yoga, is “Yoga chitta vritti nirodha” means, “Yoga is the resolution of the agitations of the mind.” When you thought of your stressful situation, your mind became agitated and you felt stressed. You were agitated because you layered all of your “stories” about the situation, which include recent and distant history, as well as all of your conditioning up to this point. In his commentary on this Sutra, Swami Satchidananda notes: “The entire outside world is based on your thoughts and mental attitude. The entire world is your own projection…That is why Yoga does not bother much about changing the outside world… As is the mind, so the man; bondage or liberation are in your own mind. If you feel bound, you are bound. If you feel liberated, you are liberated. Things outside neither bind nor liberate you; only your attitude towards them does that.”
Since I am how self-employed, my perception of the outside world manifests in negative self-talk. If I haven’t successfully booked new clients then I feel fear creeping in. All my worries and fears begin to pile on and I focus my energy on them instead of growing my business. The same thing can happen with a difficult boss or co-worker—they become the issue instead of the business issue. Working with others can be challenging, especially when we allow the mind-stuff to take on a life of its own.
So…how can Yoga help? As described in the Sutra, by clearing out the mind and regaining some perspective. Before you even begin your work day, Yoga can provide some tools to center yourself and set intentions. We often do this in our Yoga classes and we can do it for ourselves. Simply take a few moments to check in with yourself and set an intention for your day. It might be as simple as “I am present.”
While you are at work Yoga can help you regain your sense of self and center. Next time you feel stress coming on, take 5 deep, even breaths—you might be surprised at the difference it makes. Or, take a few minutes to relieve tension in the body with some head and shoulder rolls, accompanied by an awareness of the breath.
At the end of the workday, Yoga can help peel off the layers of the day and bring you back to yourself, re-grounding and relaxing you for a good night’s sleep so you can be ready for the next day. Instead of bringing your work home with you, try detaching from the workday with some breath and body awareness exercises. A few deep breaths before you walk into your house at the end of the day could make a world of difference.
For more tips and tools on how to better manage you workday stress, sign up Stress Relief at Work; Yoga Tools for the office on August 9, at Yoga Yoga Northwest.
And, visit my website at www.beingwellyoga.com for more information on bringing Yoga to the workplace!
Lisa Feder is a Yoga Instructor, Personal Trainer and Corporate Wellness Consultant. Read more