After managing a large yoga studio, and before stepping back into teaching full time, I decided to take a break and experience “the real world.” The real world is a place full of schedules, business suits, coffee carts, and monitored computer screens. After years of “yogi time” — a time that readily forgives ten minutes off the hour — I had to clock in and out, take breaks at 15 minutes past the hour, and learn the art of walking in heels from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Even with stretchy pants hung up in a closet, wearing heels and stockings, there are still ways in which I was able to hold on to Hanuman. Yes, in a leaping across the ocean and lifting a mountain kind of way.
1. Have a morning practice.
I teach a 6 a.m. class weekly. It has about 25 very dedicated rise-and-shiners. Then there are the rest of us who like to sleep in and hit the snooze button one too many times. Even if you're a snoozer, you can still hold your own kind of practice. Go for a run without loud music in your ears; write three pages in your journal; do a breathing exercise or 10 Sun Salutations. You get the point; do something for yourself before rushing around to get ready for work.
2. Wear one item that is totally you.
Suits are sophisticated and make you feel important. They can also feel heavy and stuffy at times. Make sure you have something on that carries a direct connection to your personality. It may be a mala that has a special meaning or a pair of earrings that you got while traveling to South America. Having this item may relax you and even help you be yourself at work, which will enhance your already amazing people and presentation skills.
3. Be present with your coworkers.
We tend to come in and stare at computer screens all day. We focus on the task. Some of us also spend an awful amount of time Facebooking and G-chatting. Instead, try smiling at your coworkers and asking them how their day is going. When they answer, look at them instead of your phone screen. A simple connection will slow down your heart rate and ground you in the moment.
4. Schedule mindful breaks.
The normal break room consists of people playing on their cell phones, gossiping, and making their midday coffee. Try going for a walk around the block, having tea by yourself outside, or writing a journal entry. You can also socialize and start a conversation about non-work-related events or ideas. All these activities will stimulate you in a different way than technology, caffeine, and gossip would.
5. Mind your coffee cart choices.
Your break room may be full of donuts, coffee with cream, and burritos. They're all delicious, and are all in front of you daily. Make a choice to bring your own lunch and snacks. I love snacking on grapes and apples. Maybe a few cheese slices. You can treat yourself once a week rather than every day, which will still give you a chance to go to lunch with your coworkers.
6. Offer help.
Take the time and make extra copies, offer a guiding word, or pick something up for people you see every day. This is kind, it slows you down to get you out of your own head.
7. Avoid being a yes person.
If you say “yes” to everything, you'll likely become overwhelmed with your workload. Saying “yes” all the time doesn't make you likeable; it makes you frazzled and unproductive. You can gain a certain amount of respect by declining with a reason. The act of knowing how much you can handle is backed up by a yogic principle called brahmacharya, which means non-excess. Practice it and you will feel successful and less stressed out.
8. Form a community.
If you’ve ever been to one of those sweaty, packed yoga classes, you know it may be slightly uncomfortable — but the energy in the room is off the charts.
It's easy to come to work, do your job, eat your lunch and leave. Instead, maybe bring a communal breakfast for everyone to share, or organize a group lunch. Being part of something makes people happier, friendlier and creates a better work environment.
As you move through your day in a more clearheaded and mindful way, you won’t rush to your yoga class to let go of your day nearly as much as you do now. Your physical yoga practice will allow you to be creative with your intention — you won’t always have to let go of your day, and you'll be able to finally focus on landing that splits pose. More love for everyone.