No Props, No Problem! How to Teach in Office Yoga Spaces

a woman standing in yoga pose in white background with plants

“The qualities that keep the mind clean and calm are: humility, modesty, non-violence, and forgiveness.” – transcript from Bhagavad Gita, sloka 13.11

The different spaces you will encounter when teaching office yoga include: lobby areas, kitchen floors, elevator banks, in between desks, conference rooms, game rooms, bank vaults, rooftops, public spaces, open lawns, lounge areas, nap rooms, quiet room, hallways, basements, fitness facilities, gyms or any open space. Wherever your class is held, you want to be mindful of the following:

Flooring – if the flooring is cement, linoleum, tile, or anything hard, try to avoid poses with knees or bent knees on the ground for long periods (i.e., low lunge, twisted monkey, ardha hanumanasana, etc).  Instead, offer poses with hands or feet as the base (i.e., high lunge, twisting high lunge, parsvottonasana, etc.).  

Temperature – office spaces are not heated. If the room is cold or you are outdoors in cold air, spend more time warming students up. 

Open Access – if your space is in open access and people are walking by, be mindful of the direction the class is facing (generally back or side to open space) and which poses you have them hold for long periods (downward dog, prasarita or uttanasana can be awkward when your coworkers are sitting right behind you). Sometimes people will walk through the yoga class – learn to incorporate them into class and be playful!

Furniture – often, there will be the furniture you have to move out of the way (couches, tables, desks, chairs), so be ready to do some heavy lifting. Be mindful of where you move items. Try to really “clear space” for yoga. Clutter is not only seen, it’s also felt. If the furniture is obstructive or distracting, it will be harder for participants to relax fully.  Depending on class size and furniture type, you can use furniture as props to assist your sequence. 

Office Supplies- No blocks or straps? No problem! You can use various office supplies that will serve the same purpose. Most office spaces don’t have blocks or straps, and these tools can be very helpful when working with beginners. 

Here are some examples of using office supplies as props…

No strap? Use an ethernet cable! If you find your student hanging in a forward fold, back rounded with no support, use an ethernet cable, USB cable, or iPhone charger as a strap. This will offer leverage and help lengthen the spine forward. This can also support clasping hands behind the back and various other positions. Any other string-like items lying around the office will work just as well.

No blocks? Use a water bottle! Students will benefit from having the support of a block or props. Use a water bottle for support if you find your student wavering in a balance pose. Any stable item small enough to grip can work as support. 

Sensitive knees? Use mouse padding! Students don’t have mats in “Desk Yoga” Office Yoga® classes. If they are on the floor with no padding and sensitive knees, offer a mouse pad off the desk and slide it under the kneecap. Alternatively, students can use their jackets or sweaters close by at their desks for support.

Forgot your speaker? Use a glass! Luckily, the iPhone speaker is loud enough on its own, but a speaker always makes for a better environment. I once forgot my speaker, and one of the engineers on the office suggested putting the phone in a glass to create a better sound. It works!

Office Yoga offers virtual meditation, desk yoga, and office yoga flow classes to large corporationsB Corps, and individuals. You’re welcome to join us; we would love to have you!

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