Yogis: thinking you want to teach yoga in corporations? It’s so very needed, and we want you to be 100% ready for every aspect of serving in the workplace. I know it’s easy to think – “hey, yoga is yoga, what is so different about teaching in companies?” When I first started Balance Integration over 10 years ago, I realized a LOT had to be taken into consideration and modified, and even teachers who are former corporate executives or work with corporate folks in studios or 1:1’s are always surprised by how much is at stake.
I remember when it first occurred to me that yoga teachers need guidance on how to serve in corporate or work settings. My company, Balance Integration had grown from offering just a few classes in NYC to working in locations around the country. This growth forced us to go from me teaching every class to building a team of top-notch instructors. One day, I dropped by a midday class another teacher on our team was teaching and observed the following:
- She brought a friend with her to the class
- She was wearing a skimpy yoga tank and little yoga boy-shorts
- She wrote a quote from a religious figure on the conference room white board
- She assisted a child’s pose by laying her body upon the student’s torso
- She used Sanskrit throughout the class
- She announced a student’s modification for a specific injury
- After a sweet, long savasana she wrapped things up with a chant to Ganesh
All of these practices are lovely and wonderful in a neutral or studio setting. But my heart dropped further with each element I noted above. Most of what I listed could have not only gotten the program cancelled, robbing hard working employees of a much needed release, but could have resulted in lawsuits of multiple varieties. While we all might agree that this world is overly litigious and that yoga should be a safe space from that sort of thinking, we have to face that working in the world means understanding it as it is. Rather than judging the parameters that make these actions risky in work environments, the most important thing is that we consider exactly why that is the case, and figure out how to teach authentically even when we can’t do the things we would normally do in a yoga class.
It struck me – this instructor had no idea that these choices were dangerous to the prospect of offering yoga in a work setting. Her natural way of being as a teacher had been refined over years of teaching in some of the top studios in the country, leading retreats worldwide, and working with corporate employees in all of those settings. She had even worked in corporate America before leaving to follow the call to teach yoga. But somehow, like so many of us, she had missed that where you teach must be considered in crafting how you teach.
If we all agree that yoga’s movement and philosophy has the ability to create a synergy between mind and body for anyone willing to commit to a conscious breath, then it’s a no brainer to deliver this wonderful impact in the corporate environment.
For teachers, the “win” of bringing Yoga to work environments is not only that it’s a great way to reach new populations and build a following; it’s a chance to bring harmony into a space that is commonly filled with the stressful pressures of deadlines and sales goals.
Anytime a yoga teacher goes into a work environment they need to know why these choices don’t work, and deeply consider how to keep the spirit of the practice alive even in navigating those constraints. In my heart, I knew that with every uninformed choice by a well-meaning instructor, we collectively come one step closer to sensationalistic lawsuits that endanger the longevity of and relief made possible by workplace yoga. Testing my instinct, I enlisted the help of a respected employment attorney to troubleshoot my assessment of how employment and health information regulations impact the content of yoga classes in workplace environments and she agreed. This is exactly what I want to share with you!
I thought through the mandatory workplace practices for yoga teachers to fully understand these dynamics. It was clear to me that we not only have to understand the relational structure of workplace yoga agreements, but we need to consider the mind-set many of our students maintain when at work. There needs to be sequencing for mid-day and after-hours classes, prop-less modifications, and knowledge of effectively administering “Hands Off” adjustments. We need to rethink how we integrate inspiration, how we deal with injuries, and even how we start and end classes.
But many instructors need more than just a teaching readjustment; they need to know how to succeed in building a workplace yoga business. We give guidance on how to create a yoga offering, how to market the offering, where to find clients, and how to structure agreements and strike pricing that will reflect the nature of the engagement. For the past 10 years, this is exactly what I’ve been serving up, opening the toolkit of what we’ve learned to help yoga teachers keep the practice alive, build a business, and do it all in a way that is aligned with corporate dynamics.
I’m excited any time I get to share all of this knowledge, so if you have any interest in adding workplace yoga to your offering (or want to fine tune the corporate classes you’re already providing), I’d be thrilled to share it all with you at our YogaWorks workshop on Saturday, March 8th 1pm to 5pm.
If you’re interested in joining us please sign up here: http://yogaworks.com/events/workshops/ny/2014/march%202014/corporate%20yoga%20teacher%20training