Published in Yoga Guide Magazine, January 2017
As yoga practitioners, many of us work diligently on cultivating a calm, balanced mind every time we step on our mats. Yet bringing this same mindset into the workplace can prove more challenging in the real world where we work tirelessly on projects, sitting through endless meetings, and working with others who may have very opposing ideas, backgrounds and attitudes.
As a former stressed-out corporate employee – turned yoga instructor and corporate wellness consultant – I understand the difficultly in keeping a soft yogic mind during arduous meetings, demanding conference calls, and challenging projects, all while dealing with leaders, peers and long hours.
Improving our working world is not always about changing our situations or others, but it’s often about changing our inner world and our response to the stress around us to remain balanced, focused and healthy.
Practicing the following tactics will help keep you feeling harmonious in the work situations you encounter and will lead to greater drive, focus and overall success.
Set your intention and mantra for the Day: Before you step out of bed, focus on your intention for the day. What are your goals, what do you want to bring into your day to help you be your best self? What are the positive feelings, emotions and accomplishments related to this intention? How will you walk through your day feeling the effects of this intention? Really visualize this intention. Then, create a workplace mantra for the day, week or month ahead. A mantra, or affirmation, is a positive sentence or word stated in the present moment to bring about a positive change in your attitude, outlook and situation. A few examples may include: I am focused; I am confident; I am a leader making a positive impact. I recommend trying a few different ways to say your mantra to find the specific statement that truly resonates with you. I have also found that silently saying this mantra to yourself repeatedly at specific times during your day can help turn this into a habit. Try repeating your mantra a minimum of 25 times every time you walk to the kitchen or restroom. This powerful combination of intention setting and repeating a personal mantra during your day will create a more positive, focused mindset. Over time, this will change your approach to work, life and ultimately help you reach your goals.
Clear your mind: Start and end your day with a 5 minute meditation. If you feel it is too challenging to remain consistent with a 5 minute meditation, focus on 10 long deep mindful breaths at a set time each day. Since we all have a daily and evening routine that involves brushing your teeth, add those 10 breaths into your day after brushing your pearly whites.
Stay present & cultivate Dharana: The sixth limb of yoga focuses on Dharana, or its simplest translation meaning “concentration.” Dharana is really about continuously bringing your “monkey mind” back to whatever it is you’re focusing on. A very important and challenging practice in our society today. Too often we often pride ourselves in the ability to multitask and take on more in our days. As we juggle multiple work and home projects, meetings, family obligations, emails, texts, and social media outlets our minds constantly jumps around from one thing to another more than ever. To work at our highest level, we must practice dharana. By concentrating on one task at a time you can work at a higher and more efficient level overall. Create dedicated time blocks in your day for specific projects, close multiple browsers, and check emails and your phone only at designated times. This practice of concentrated focus will help you complete your tasks, prevent errors, burn out and even avoid potential outbursts stemming from feelings of overwhelm from the many responsibilities you are balancing.
Get physical: A stagnant body can lead to a stagnant mind. Because we live very sedentary lifestyles from commuting and sitting in an office chair most of the day, we need to find pockets of time to intentionally move and stretch. Create time in your schedule to incorporate these 4 simple chair yoga exercises at least once in your day [add photos of the stretches?]
- Lateral side bends
- Seated twist
- Seated pigeon
- Seated forward fold
Consider asking management for a stand up desk or treadmill desk for the office. Companies are now understanding the overall value in keeping their employees healthy and may be open to ideas focused on increasing movement. The expression “sitting is the new smoking” is around for a reason. Companies are seeing greater spend on medical insurance claims and understand actions must be taken to help employees feel their best.
If you are a yoga instructor, consider speaking to management about offering weekly onsite yoga or meditation classes to promote greater workplace wellness. Be sure to have liability insurance to protect yourself.
Use essential oils for balanced energy: Essential oils can help support your energy levels and overall health. Build your own essential oils kit filled with my top recommendations to keep you feeling your best.
- Naturally energize and cleanse your body with a few drops of lemon oil in your water to begin your day.
- Overcome the mid-day slump or combat tension headaches by rubbing a few drops of peppermint oil on your temples or chest for a natural boost in energy.
- Increase your focus, memory and creativity with rosemary oil.
- Wind down at the end of your day by rubbing a few drops of lavender oil on your wrists or diffusing in your bedroom for a more restful night sleep.
As much as we believe we will take these actions, our days tends to slip away from us. Creating reminders on your calendar and phone for the tactics listed above will help you create the habits necessary to cultivate a calm, focused mind leading to greater levels of success in your professional and personal life.
Click here to view this article and more in the January 2017 issue of Yoga Guide Magazine