IT-employee by day, yogi by night has been the name of my game for almost 12 years now. Working for a large Corporation has its benefits, however when it comes to living the Yoga lifestyle, it can seem a bit controversial for some. Over the years I have really worked hard to make these two, very different, worlds collide, and with great success! Not only does Yoga enhance my life greatly, but I have also seen the huge benefits Yoga has brought to my career. You read that right - Yoga can help you at work too! Don’t believe me? Take a look to see five ways you can live your yoga while working for “The Man”, and how it can enhance your life and your career.
1) Breathing through Meetings
How many times have you been in a stressful meeting and forgot to breathe? It is in these moments that I recall 3-part breathing from Yoga Teacher Training, and I bust that bad-boy out. No one in the meeting has a clue that I am basically meditating in the middle of their speech, and I am reaping all of the benefits! A calmer mind and body, clearer focus, an ability to speak my mind on the topics at hand, and all with a soft smile on my face. If you have never practiced 3-part breathing, there are numerous YouTube and Instagram videos, or you can take a class at your local Yoga studio!
2) Mini Meditations
You read it right. Yoga has taught me that meditation is good, not meditating is not so good. Since I rarely have time to sit for 30 minutes and meditate, I do mini meditations throughout the day. At my desk is the most frequent location, where I’ll sit for 30-60 seconds with my eyes closed and focus on listening to everything around me. All of the sounds become one harmonious melody that put me at peace. Yes, even the sounds of a corporate office can be soothing if we allow them to be. The typing of my co-workers in their cubicles, the sound of the IMs chiming, phones ringing, copy machines running, it’s almost like music to my meditated ears. The benefits of meditation are numerous and would require another blog post, but the main benefit in the work place is a renewed focus and energy for the tasks ahead.
3) Chant while you Commute
My commute to work is 1.5 hours one way and it involves 3-parts (just like yogic breathing, don’t think I didn’t notice that parallel).
Part #1 – 40 minute drive to the train station
Part #2 – 30 minute train ride to downtown Minneapolis
Part #3 – 20 minute walk to the office
Each part of that commute serves a purpose for me. Part #1, alone in my car, I often chant or make the mantras of the day that I repeat out loud. Always softly at first, because 4:30 am is a delicate time of the day, but eventually I find my voice and belt them out as loud as possible (added bonus: opening my throat chakra, which is equally important for that corporate job). Part #2 of my commute, gives me time to reflect on yesterday and the day ahead of me. It is often here where I write Instagram posts, edit photos, and comment on people’s inspiring images and captions. The train is where I find inspiration to live my yoga! Part #3 is a moving meditation, as walking always has been something very calming for me. I love feeling peace and tranquility while walking through the hustle and bustle of the skyways in Downtown Minneapolis. It gives me a sense of freedom and release that I can find nowhere else.
4) Make time for Asana
As you can see from above, my time is very limited because of working full-time and commuting 3-hours a day, which makes this number by far the hardest one out of the bunch. Asana, the physical practice of Yoga, can be difficult for anyone to squeeze time in for. In fact, I have been known to sneak in a few Sun Salutations in the storage closet at the office (shhh, don’t tell my boss!) if I have to!
Perhaps the best part about our physical yoga practice is we need no equipment, we need only to tune into our breath. A mat and yoga clothes help, so I always keep a set of clothes and a mat at the office. I have been known to practice on my lunch-breaks, which comes with its own set of challenges:
Challenge #1 - At my office all of the conference rooms have glass walls so the only place I have found that I can practice acceptably is in the Mother’s Room (which is about 3 feet by 8 feet in size). Challenge #2 - I am a sweaty person (thanks, Pitta) and getting sweaty on lunch is tricky to deal with because of hair and makeup. For this challenge I keep organic face wipes and hair supplies at my desk, and just refresh my hair and makeup when done.
Challenge #3 - Corporate employees love to socialize and network on lunch and missing too many of these can cause a negative hit on a person’s corporate status. Sad, but true. That said, I still practice probably 1 day per week on lunch break, the others I reserve for networking and I practice before work. Life is about balance, right?
I share these challenges because I want you to know that everyone faces difficulties when it comes to finding time in our busy lives. Find something that works for you and your life in order to fit in a practice. Some days it might only be 10-minutes long, others a full 2-hour flow, and some days it might just be pranayama. Just fit in some semblance of a practice into your busy life and you will feel incredible!
5) Follow the Yamas and Niyamas
In the movies, people at the corporate office are quick to cut, judge, and backstab each other; it almost seems like it’s part of the job! Unfortunately, this can sometimes be not all that far from the truth. While it’s not as dramatic as we see on TV, it happens every day when working for “The Man”. As yogis, we need to live separate from that lifestyle as much as we possibly can. Luckily, Yoga has given us a way to live those out: the Yamas and Niyamas. Sometimes these are referred to as the 10 Commandments of Yoga, and they are as follows (a corporate translation in parenthesis):
1) Ahimsa – Nonviolence (be kind to everyone you meet)
2) Satya – Truthfulness (speak your truth, do not lie to get ahead)
3) Asteya – Non-stealing (don’t take credit for work you didn’t do)
4) Brahmacharya – Non-excess; chastity (don’t have affairs with your co-workers)
5) Aparigraha – Non-possessiveness/greed (share your work knowledge with co-workers)
1) Saucha – Purity, cleanness of mind, body, and speech (bathe regularly, don’t speak ill of others)
2) Santosha – Contentment (love even those with whom you disagree)
3) Tapas – Self-discipline (work hard and be consistent, in work-life and yoga-life)
4) Svadhyaya – Self-Study (constantly check yourself to be a better person)
5) Ishvara Pranidhana - Surrender (Let go of control)
If you’re working for “The Man” and feel like you can’t find time for your Yoga, I hope these tips can help you going forward. Try one thing at a time, and let them come with ease.
- Cassie Greer
March 19, 2017