Yoga in the office provides employees with an opportunity to decompress, connect with their teams, increase focus and productivity and learn how to practice mindfulness during a busy day. If you’re curious about how to introduce yoga to your office but aren’t sure where to start, consider the following 7 tips to help you get started:
Assess interest: Yoga can be intimidating, and it can be challenging to think of ways to seamlessly add it as part of your employee wellness offerings, especially if your company is trying it for the first time. Start by assessing interest. This could be in the form of a survey or an all-hands meeting to gauge staff enthusiasm. Many team leads are surprised to learn how many of their staff already practice yoga and are excited about the opportunity to practice at work. The data you gather can help you determine how often and when to offer classes, what type of instructor would be best for your group, what style of yoga would be best and the fee structure for classes.
Choose a suitable space: Space arrangements may be easier if your team is hybrid as some people will join from the comfort of their homes, but if you have staff in the office regularly, I recommend finding a designated, well ventilated spot. In my corporate yoga business, I offer chair yoga, which is easier to fit into most spaces and requires no additional equipment. However, if you plan to offer mat-based classes, a designated space with room for everyone to move around is best.
Hire a qualified instructor: Hire a certified yoga instructor who can develop a good rapport with your team and teach classes that are suitable for all levels. You can stick with the same instructor for every class or host a series of classes with different instructors. Either way, hire someone experienced in teaching corporate yoga, as they will understand the specific needs and limitations of office environments and the specific pain points of desk workers. Most traveling instructors will have their own props such as blocks, straps and bolsters but you should ask ahead of time to determine a budget if you’ll need to provide any additional props.
Set a schedule: Looking back on the data you gathered while assessing interest, decide on the frequency and duration of the yoga sessions. Popular times to offer yoga at work are early mornings before core hours, during lunch and late afternoon for a mindful pick-me-up. Consistency matters and many companies have found success (high participation, great feedback) by keeping the classes on the same day each week, i.e. Wellness Wednesdays. Most instructors are teaching in real time, meaning they won’t be sharing a recording unless otherwise stipulated in their contract. That said, it’s important to pick a day that works best for the greatest number of your staff and stick with it.
Promote the program: Raise awareness about the yoga sessions by sending out email announcements, putting up posters, or using the company’s internal communication channels. Highlight the benefits of yoga and encourage employees to participate. Leadership should be encouraged to attend as many classes as possible to practice alongside their staff. Often, wellness initiatives can be viewed as a “box check” among staff if senior leaders don’t participate and commune with the teams. Seeing a senior leader and even the CEO in a class sends the message that the staff is united in the goal of prioritizing wellness for themselves and the company culture.
Ask for staff feedback: Ask for feedback regularly from participants to understand their experience and make any necessary improvements. You can ask questions about the frequency, style, instructor, duration and any themes the staff would like to explore. This will help you tailor the yoga program to meet the needs and preferences of your employees. Share the feedback you get with the instructor(s) to help them provide the best yoga experience for your team.
Encourage Integration: This is by far the most important piece of advice I can offer to any company who is introducing yoga into the workplace. Actively integrate yoga principles and mindfulness practices into the workplace beyond the dedicated sessions. Encourage employees to incorporate simple breathing exercises, stretches, or mindfulness breaks into their daily routines and require that leadership model these behaviors and make space for them on a daily basis. This is the beginning of building a culture of care that reinforces the benefits of yoga and fosters a more mindful and balanced work environment.
Introducing yoga in the office has many benefits for both employees and the overall work environment. Yoga can help create space for employees to recharge, counteract the painful effects of prolonged sitting and cultivate a sense of balance between work and their personal lives. Employers who offer yoga in the office have reported improvements in productivity, retention, creativity and focus across all departments. But the most important thing to remember is that a single yoga practice cannot erase an unbalanced workplace culture; it’s critical to integrate yoga sessions into your office culture for a more holistic working environment. If you’re curious about how your office can benefit from yoga, contact me here to learn more.