Workplace Yoga

Workplace yoga: teaching yoga in your own place of work can throw you a few curveballs, says Victoria Jackson

A lot of my yoga teaching is done in the workplace and I know I’m not alone in that. Workplace yoga is increasingly popular as companies recognise that staff wellbeing is not only desirable in itself but also has tangible benefits measured on their bottom line.

I’m very fortunate that I have a gym and a studio on-site, so there’s none of the chair-stacking or moving of desks that I hear about from teacher-colleagues elsewhere, who struggle to make a room suitable for class. All I have to do is roll out the mats and we begin. Wednesday lunchtime becomes an oasis in the middle of the working week. Sometimes it feels such a luxury to hit the pause button and make time for ourselves, other times it seems more like a necessity in a world where everyone is juggling multiple responsibilities and feeling under pressure.

Despite the undoubted bonus of the availability of gym facilities, teaching in the workplace still presents its own unique challenges to me. After all, my teaching isn’t done in any old workplace, it’s done in my own workplace, where I also hold a regular 9 to 5 job. So it can be a little odd to find my students in meetings or my colleagues in class – depending on how I first met them. I’m sure it’s equally strange for them too, of course.

In the yoga room I know my students from their physical abilities (the one who loves deep backbends, the one with the tricky shoulder and so on) or their preferred space in the room (away from the mirror, nearer the heater, back row or front row), but this familiarity does me no good at all when someone strikes up a conversation at the end of the quarterly financial briefing — I’m just terrible at recognising people out of context! Perhaps I’d know them in their usual leggings and pony tail, but in a suit and wearing make-up I stand little chance. Maybe I could ask them to do a quick downward facing dog in the boardroom to see if that jogs my memory. Is that better or worse than them coming to class in their business attire, I wonder?

Whatever the trivial and fleeting moments of awkwardness we might experience, I love this different way of ‘working’ with my colleagues. Teaching yoga is arguably just another sort of team-work or mentoring, and we have so much else in common (workplace, corporate ethos, stress levels…) that sharing yoga at work seems quite natural. It just has a different dress-code!

Victoria Jackson lives and teaches in Oxford. She is registered with Yoga Alliance Professionals as a vinyasa yoga teacher. Read more of Victoria’s OM Lite columns.

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