How to Use Yoga Wisdom at Work

May 7, 2013

By Marcia Reynolds, HuffPost Healthy Living

Did you know that you don't have to find the space and time to do the poses to practice yoga? There is an amazing new book about integrating the wisdom of yoga on the job to expand or enhance your work life experience called Yoga Wisdom at Work. I had the opportunity to interview the authors, Maren and Jamie Showkeir. Here are some insights to using yoga principles beyond the mat and into your world.

Marcia: Yoga has exploded in popularity in the last few years -- it seems to be everywhere. Most people tell me they use it to keep limber, to maintain strong balance as they age and to work out the kinks they develop while sitting in office chairs or on airplanes all day. How can practicing yoga really help people be more effective in their work lives beyond the physical benefits?

Showkeirs: Most people are familiar with the physical practice of yoga, and a lot has been written about the ways it can relieve stress, calm your mind, and so on. All of that would certainly be useful in the workplace. But doing the yoga postures actually is only an eighth of a full yoga practice. It's an ancient philosophy based on "Eight Limbs," and offers a wide array of practices, including a code of conduct and practices that help people become more focused, self-aware and connected to themselves and to others.

Marcia: So it sounds like your book covers more than doing stretches at your desk or using breathing or meditation for stress relief.

Showkeirs: The book certainly covers those practices, but it also covers the full spectrum of the Eight Limbs. We think that yoga practiced more broadly can give people a new way of viewing how they work. The practices can help them connect differently with coworkers, look at the meaning of their work contributions in a different way, and in these crazy, rapidly-changing times, help them keep perspective and sanity. Yoga offers guidance about developing your potential and that of others, managing your energy, keeping healthy, ethics, discipline, leadership. Even though it is an ancient practice, it is completely relevant for the modern workplace.

Marcia: Give me some examples of what yoga is beyond the poses so I can easily apply this at work.

Showkeirs: Getting connected to your breath and learning to harness its power to calm you down or increase your energy is a wonderful and easy way to practice yoga at work, and we outline several techniques in the book. Meditation is another time-tested yoga practice, which is backed by research that shows this practice can actually create new pathways in your brain, helping to create productive habits and get rid of those that are destructive. A couple of the limbs are aimed specifically at training the mind -- our consciousness. People in this country invest a lot of time and energy to on physical fitness, and doing things to expand their knowledge and skills. But it's relatively rare to put that same devotion toward training the mind. These practices help quiet all that chatter in your mind, which leads to enhanced intuition, insight, focus and efficiency, and sets the stage for you to enhance creativity and innovation.

Marcia: People probably think of the mental side of yoga as very esoteric, but it sounds like it has a lot to offer that is practical as well.

Showkeirs: Our book is designed to be very pragmatic, and to give people concrete, practical ways of practicing yoga at work. And it includes lots of wonderful stories from yoga practitioners working in a wide variety of jobs who speak to the real benefits that they get from taking their yoga practice into the workplace. You know, we believe when people learn to live the values from the book, they will carry them forward as adults into the workplace creating amazing work cultures.

Marcia: I too believe that yoga wisdom is a way to change the workplace and the world. Good luck with your book launch!

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