Jonathan Schofield makes new connections in the corporate world thanks to yoga
A funny thing happened to me on the way to the eighth floor last week. Ascending with half-a-dozen suited colleagues in the gleaming ivory tower I now work in, I spotted Jane, a senior executive at the vast global company I currently earn a living with. “Hi Jane,” I said cheerfully. “Thanks so much for last night. After that I had one of the best, most relaxed night’s sleep I’ve had in ages. Felt fantastic. I’m definitely coming again next week.” “You’re not the only person to say that,” replied Jane. “I’m glad you felt so good; it’s been such a a long time for me so I was actually a little nervous. We did bend into some advanced positions and I was worried it might be too much for your first night with me.”
I noticed people around me staring up at the ceiling or at their feet as this conversation continued in a similar vein. I’m quite sure there was some ‘chatter’ around the coffee machines that morning, but before anyone jumps to conclusions let me assure you there is nothing untoward happening between Jane and myself. Jane is in fact my new yoga teacher. We were merely discussing the previous night’s class. In fact, if it wasn’t for yoga, Jane would have no reason to acknowledge me. She is running multi-million pound accounts many floors above me, me scribing away on newsletters and websites way down below.
A recent staff survey suggested that stress was on the increase in ivory tower world, so Jane, a qualified yoga instructor – who took up yoga 15 years ago to deal with the intensity of the corporate world – proposed a Wednesday evening class. It was after that first class in one of the boardrooms that I realised what a great leveller yoga is. Me and Jane on first name terms; executives, consultants, IT specialists, directors and Steve from the post room all de-robed from our corporate daily outfits and stretching, giggling, meditating and occasionally falling asleep just inches from each other. No hierarchy, no agendas, no action plans, no deadlines.
Throughout the day, in lifts, in boardroom meetings, in corridors and the canteen there are knowing looks between fellow yogis. The odd comment about backs feeling better, about the benefits a weekly yoga class could bring to the corporate world if every company introduced it. My next class is just eight hours away. I’m already loosening my tie in anticipation and wondering what a different world it would be if yoga became mandatory in every workplace.