Ever wondered how to take that yoga high with you off the mat?
Curious how to be more flexible, strong and calm in the other 23 hours of your day?
Everyone knows that yoga feels great. What you might not know is that yoga can help you unleash your brightest potential at work. That’s right – of the best place to put your yoga practice to use where you spend the most amount of time: your job.
What makes the workplace the perfect petri dish for a yoga practice? The yoga sutras (a classical yoga text from over 2000 years ago) offer much wisdom to the working yogi which can help you love your job. In addition, many of those poses from class can be modified for your desk to build energy, focus and calm. Lastly, we take ~20,000 breaths a day. Use your breath as fuel to thrive not just survive.
Even if you can’t put your foot behind your head, or have never even tried yoga before, these tools will work for you.
10 Tools to Bring Yoga Bliss into Your Business life:
Got Stress? Working late? Computer issues? These are all fuel for the fire of tapas to teach us stamina and discipline. Convert your stress into success by letting it transform into excitement and redirection.
"Tapas (discipline, fire) is Accepting Pain as Help for Purification” (sutra 2.1)
Unhappy customers? Tense team meetings? Unlock any personnel or client situation.
Be friendly to the happy
Be compassionate to the suffering
Be joyful for the good (aka those you’d rather envy)
Be even-keeled to those who frustrate you
“The 4 Keys for Dealing with Others: Friendliness, Compassion, Joy & Evenness” (sutra 1.33)
Sore lower back? Create more length in your lower back by bringing one knee at a time into your chest, keeping the other foot on the floor as you sit up tall. (see image below) Hold the back of the thigh if you can’t hold your knee. This is a seated version of eka pada apanasana, knees to chest, which we normally do on our backs on the mat. Bonus benefit: this helps with digestion
Feeling scattered? Get focused for a big task and get your mind back to work with balancing poses. (see images above) Standing up tall, lift your right foot off the floor and circle the ankle. Press evenly through the standing foot, use your core (pull navel to spine) and firm the hip of your standing leg in. Or, simply stand on your tip toes. Find one point to focus on. When we have to balance it’s hard to think about anything else! Keeping the eyes on one point also builds focus.
Competing priorities/constraints? Find Win-Win Solutions. In work and in life it seems there is never enough time, money or energy. Yet there is infinite possibility in what we do with these resources. Take time to find win-win solutions through changing your perspective. In the yoga sutras they call this Pratipaksha Bhavanam.
“When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be thought of” (sutra 2.33)
Need more power? Twist! These poses work our core, which is also related to our 3rd energy center or chakra, the seat of our personal power. Before your next meeting with your boss or a big negotiation, do a few simple seated twists (see image below). Afterwards, stand up tall and reach your arms out and up and stand with your feet 3 feet apart. Take up space and a few big inhales through the nose and out through the mouth.
Fatigued eyes? See the big picture and give your eyes a break with a little eye yoga. Rub your palms together then cup them over your eyes (see image below) any time you’ve been staring at a screen too long. Strengthen the eyes by looking up, right, down & left keeping your hands over your eyes.
Tired? Deep breathing, what I like to call 2 part breath, can refresh and recharge you. Place one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen (see image below). Notice if the hands move at all when you inhale. Slowly deepen and lengthen the breath so both hands move slightly with the lifting of the chest and expansion of the abdomen. Keep the shoulders, neck and face relaxed.
Disconnected from your team? Work remotely? Try this loving-kindness or metta meditation, which creates calm and feelings of compassion and connection with others.
Anxiety? Apathy? Stick with it! This little nugget from the Yoga Sutras keeps me going on my toughest days:
“Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness” (sutra 1.14)
*all sutras are from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda