Sometimes Yoga is for those who practice it…and for us, we know that familiar feeling of arriving on the mat. It changes us. We instantly breathe a little better and sit a little taller and feel a little more connected. But in my experience, it also impacts those who don’t ever make it to the mat. The ones in high-heeled shoes and nylons. The ones in ties and button up shirts. The ones with deadlines and assistants and a schedule packed so tightly that they’ve forgotten to schedule time to eat.
These are my people. I teach in corporate offices and the people who make it to class get a chance to stretch out, relax and breathe during their days. Other than the occasional disruption from email/text coming through on their cell phones or their bosses coming in for an answer that can’t wait, classes are pretty similar to those in studios.
But one thing I’ve noticed over the years teaching in offices is how my presence affects the people who never even come to class. The security guard who lets me in, the people I see on the elevators or in the parking lot…often they’ll stretch their arms overhead or do a little back arch just when they see me.
I have little conversations that always go something like this:
“You coming to yoga?” I say, knowing the answer.
This always somehow brings about laughter “you wouldn’t want me to come to Yoga. I can’t even touch my toes. I’d hurt myself. I’d fall asleep. I don’t have time!” (and other reasons) Sometimes I’ll have them quickly side bend or tell them to shoulder roll at their desk. And they do it.
Most importantly, they know that Yoga is there for them. Often times it’s just a few feet away. It’s maybe the closest some of them have ever been to the possibility of practicing Yoga. And I like to imagine that during that lunch hour, even though they’re not in class, they’re aware that somewhere, close by – Yoga is happening. Maybe they are eating with more mindfulness. Maybe they are stretching their feet out under their desks.
As I leave each office after class, folks will ask how class went as they add “Someday I’ll make it!”
And I tell them the same thing each time: “I’ll be here.”
And I will.
Alison Wesley is a Certified Yoga Therapist, Franklin Method Educator and owner of Working with Yoga. She lives in Portland, OR and teaches yoga classes at offices in the area, working for companies such as Intel, Adidas, Harsch, Guide Dogs for the Blind, The TrailBlazers staff, G Diapers and Clackamas County.
“Dedicated to supporting others and their journey into Yoga, I communicate the importance of physical alignment in asana (postures) but I also encourage students to experiment and discover what works best for them. It is my intention in my classes to share the love I have for Yoga and to offer a thoughtful, supportive, light-hearted sequence with enough space for students to turn inward and learn more.” – Alison Wesley
This post is the first in the 4-part series about teaching yoga in office settings. Tune in next week for Part 2: How to sequence office yoga classes.
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