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Teaching corporate yoga often involves adapting traditional yoga practices to suit the office environment and the needs of employees sitting for long periods. These elements make teaching corporate yoga vastly different than teaching at a yoga studio or gym. Here are some key differences:
1. Environment: In an office setting, space might be limited, and there might not be dedicated yoga equipment or a quiet, serene atmosphere like in a yoga studio. The floors are hard, the lights are bright, and the temperature is cold. For six years, I taught yoga in the basement of a tech company in San Francisco. The cement floors made a low lunge and single-knee poses very difficult. I changed my sequencing dramatically to accommodate the floor space. Office Yoga instructors must often work with what’s available, such as using desks for support or modifying poses for small spaces.
2. Time Constraints: Corporate yoga sessions are typically shorter due to time constraints in a work setting. Classes might be 15 to 30 minutes long, while studio classes usually last 60 to 90 minutes. Office Yoga instructors must learn to adapt their teaching in smaller increments without feeling rushed. It’s important that class starts and stops on time so employees don’t miss other meetings.
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3. Class Formats: Due to the environment and time constraints, classes are often held around the conference table or board room. Employees generally don’t have mats and clothes to change into. I remember the first time I walked into Wells Fargo to teach yoga. One woman was wearing a pencil skirt, and another in heels. There were 12 people around a small conference table with no room to move the chairs. Office Yoga instructors often have to modify the poses based on the students’ clothes and the furniture in the room.
4. Focus on Desk-Related Issues: Corporate yoga often addresses specific issues related to desk work, like relieving neck, shoulder, and back tension, reducing eye strain, working with carpal tunnel, or combatting sedentary habits. Classes often focus on asana stretches and movements targeting these areas.
5. Adapting for All Levels: In a studio, attendees might be more experienced practitioners, while office yoga can cater to a wide range of skill levels, including beginners who may have never tried yoga before. Classes are smaller with more range in experience.
6. Corporate Wellness and Stress Relief: Corporate yoga often focuses on stress reduction and mental relaxation to improve productivity and well-being in a work environment. Techniques like breathing exercises and mindfulness might be emphasized more.
7. Incorporating Breath and Mindfulness: In an office where stress and mental fatigue are common, there’s often a greater emphasis on breathing exercises and mindfulness practices to help employees relax and re-energize. Finding a balance between teaching asana and breathwork in 20 minutes is essential.
8. Accessible Language: In a studio, instructors might use more yoga-specific terminology, while in an office setting, instructors often use more accessible language, avoiding Sanskrit terms and explaining poses in more straightforward ways. Sanskrit names can make great passwords, so teach them intentionally. See Language and Cueing Alternatives for Teaching Corporate Yoga.
9. Business Casual Clothing: The majority of employees attending corporate yoga classes are wearing business casual clothing. Office Yoga instructors succeed more when wearing business casual clothes than yoga pants. When employees see the instructor in business attire, it tells them they can participate without changing their wardrobe.
10. Liability: When teaching at a studio, the liability falls on the studio owners. Corporate yoga instructors need liability waivers and agreements in place in case of an accident or emergency. Coverage and liability are essential to have in place when teaching in a corporate office. Ask a lawyer for a general liability form or use the template provided in Office Yoga Teacher Training.
Ultimately, both settings aim to promote physical and mental well-being. Still, Office Yoga instructors often need to be more adaptable and creative in their approach to cater to the specific needs and limitations of an office environment.
Interested in teaching Office Yoga? Learn more about our comprehensive program for Instructors through our Office Yoga Teacher Training.
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