As yoga has boomed in popularity, classes are available in studios, parks, gyms, and online. So why should we also bring yoga to the office?
1. Our energy builds with regular renewal.
Peak performance requires that we manage our energy — not just our to-do list. Research from The Energy Project shows that we’re at our best when we move between expending and renewing energy along four dimensions: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Skillful yoga can access each of these in ways that are appropriate for diverse students.
2. Focus is a cultivated skill.
Regardless of the workplace, most of us face competing priorities, increasing distraction, and demands from both internal and external stakeholders. As a result, maintaining focus on what matters most in any given moment is a challenge — and too often, we get stuck somewhere along the path from vision to execution to results. In yoga, we anchor all action to our breath, which invites us to connect with the present moment over and over again. Through practice, we cultivate the skill to take this deep focus on the here and now off of the mat and into the meeting, the pitch, and the project.
3. Innovation requires resilience.
We’re hard-pressed to attend a conference, chat at a networking event, or skim the latest HBR article without seeing “innovation.” But what does it really take to transform, breakthrough, and disrupt the status quo for the positive? In short, a heckuva lot of work! Not to mention persistence, a willingness to embracing failure, and unwavering belief in what’s possible. On the mat, yoga provides us with many opportunities to put these mindsets into action. Whether we’re learning to sit in stillness or facing our fear of handstands, yoga teaches us to be less attached to outcomes and, instead, to focus on trusting the process again and again and again. This cycle builds the resilience we need to break free of old patterns in work and life.
4. Teams are strengthened through compassion and connection.
Literally translated, yoga means “to yoke”, to bind or connect. As we connect our bodies and breath through yoga practice, we’re also invited to notice and curiously investigate the physical sensations or feelings that often arise. Instead of negatively judging those experiences, yoga asks us to have compassion for ourselves and allow that self-love to extend outward. Nowhere is this interplay between how we feel about ourselves and how we feel about others more critical than on teams taking on big challenges. At the office where critical thinking may often be prized, yoga can provide us with a safe space to practice the connection and compassion that are necessary building blocks for exceptional teams.
5. It feels good — inside and out.
Simply put, yoga just feels good! Intentional breathing and gentle stretching help counteract too much sitting with hunched keyboard posture, while also interrupting the “fight or flight” response that arises when we encounter stress. After even a brief yoga break, our physical bodies feel better and our energetic bodies are positioned to more thoughtfully respond instead of just react. Yes, yoga helps us be more productive — but even more importantly, it helps us access more joy. Our co-workers, families, and communities will thank us!