Teaching yoga in the workplace deserves a lot of thought and attention. In 2011, when I first started teaching yoga in an office setting, the practice was referred to as “corporate yoga”. There were no standards in place for teacher qualification which resulted in an “anything goes” mentality. Since then, the industry has rapidly grown — both companies and yoga instructors alike want to bring the practice to more corporate workplaces. As the owner of Office Yoga™, and one of the leading experts in this industry, I acknowledge that there’s a responsibility to set a high bar for the quality of yoga while simultaneously creating a conducive learning environment for employees.
These are a few basic things I have our Office Yoga Teacher Training™ graduates consider before teaching a class:
- Clear the space- move furniture (chairs, ping pong tables, couches, coffee mugs) out of the way. Wipe down the white boards (ask for permission to make sure it’s not important information). If you’re teaching around the conference table, make sure cell phones are out of sight. A recent article from the Journal of the Association of Consumer Research has proven “that the mere presence of one’s own smartphone may occupy limited-capacity cognitive resources, thereby leaving fewer resources available for other tasks and undercutting cognitive performance.” A clean and clear space is felt. When teaching a flow class, roll out the mats and set up the props for your students. Remember, your students are busy employees who may join class late due to wrapping another meeting or call. Make the practice even more accessible by setting up their space in advance.
- Dim the lights- often times the lighting in the office can be harsh on the eyes, especially if employees are lying in supine position during class. This article on “How Lighting Affects the Productivity of Your Workers” reminds us that “light has an enormous effect on our physical and mental well-being.” Variations on lighting can have an enormous impact on mood. When teaching Office Yoga™, simply turn the lights down or off. If you’re in a conference room this should be easy to do — turn the lights down to help set a calm, cool tone.
- Make a connection- when your students arrive, introduce yourself and get to know everyone by first name. Class sizes are generally smaller than public classes and teachers will see the same students time and again. Forbes shares that “strong social connections make people happier and physically healthier, which can translate into work performance”. This requires that teachers are prepared (cleared space, dimmed lights) and ready to greet the company’s employees when they walk into the room. Depending on personality, it is appropriate to introduce yourself at either the beginning or the end of class. This is also a good time to assess if there are any injuries or medical concerns you should know about.
- State your objective- most employees will be new to yoga or at least new to your class. It’s very important at this early stage to build rapport (by making a connecting) and be clear about your objectives for class. Why did they take time away from work to be there? What are they going to learn in class? What key points do you want employees to walk away with? Consider keeping the same objectives for a period of time so students have time to learn. It helps beginners to know what to look for and keeps them coming back when they see measurable progress.
These steps are the easy things you can do to set yourself up for success as a teacher. Whatever style of yoga you chose to offer your students in the workplace, these four practices can greatly enhance their experience, both personally and professionally.
Office Yoga™ offers a comprehensive programming for instructors through our Office Yoga Teacher Training. Learn more here.