The practice of yoga as a stretching, strengthening and balancing exercise program has become wildly popularly in the US in recent years.
Yet, how many of us are aware of the ancient philosophy that underlies the system of poses, which actually engender through the body these sacred and practical tenets?
Maren Showkeir and Jamie Showkeir, who are married business partners, have written a beautifully clear book called Yoga Wisdom at Work: Finding Sanity off the Map and on the Job. This book illustrates the full range of yoga’s transformational benefits with relevant examples of how yoga wisdom can be applied to create a more rewarding work experience.
“While the physical and mental benefits of yoga include increased energy, ability to deal with stress, and work satisfaction, the asana practice is also rich in metaphors for the qualities needed to be successful at work: Intention. Discipline and focus. Stability and strength. Flexibility. Balance. Willingness to try something new.”
Yoga Wisdom at Work is an invitation to use the Eight Limbs of yoga to cultivate a lifestyle that naturally overflows to the work space, offering keys for staying centered, positive, compassionate and sane every hour of the day, “Off the mat and on the job!” A more creative, productive and energized work environment will deliver a stronger bottom line, measured both in dollars and quality of life.
“Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?”
~ Mary Oliver, Yoga Wisdom at Work
There is no reason to separate work and yogic principles, especially since they “Urge you to unveil your brilliance to the world and to recognize the light that also burns in others.”
Certainly happiness will result from realizing one’s potential through each moment of contented presence filled with gratitude and generosity.
Tama Kieves aptly states, “Why would you prefer to crawl when you have wings?”
Sometimes the change one needs to be in the world is an inner shift of perspective, your wings to open.
The Showkeirs abundantly show how living the yogic path one challenge at a time in the workplace can be the answer to one’s need to fly instead of inching along aimlessly.
I love their recommendations for conscious conversation, which are certain to elevate it.
Ask oneself the following questions before speaking:
- Is it True?
- Is it Helpful?
- Does it Improve upon the Silence?
- Is it Necessary?
- Is it Kind?
Oh how many times have I wish I had checked in with myself before speaking in a tense situation–and conversely wished others had done the same.
“Yoga’s eight limbs are like a flower bud. As each layer of petals opens, it reveals the next, and the next, until the fragrant core of full blossoming is revealed. At the peak of its bloom, the flower is fully realized. Samadhi is self-realization, the full bloom of yoga. All the limbs of yoga are designed to lead you to Samadhi.”
Full immersion into one’s work can create the kind of joyful flow, like you experience when everything is kind of clicking.
That is Samadhi.
It is the natural state of flowering, of living ‘on purpose.’ The profound satisfaction described from applying the precepts of yoga can be experienced in any job, whether it be sweeping the floor, cooking, designing a building or coaching a team. The point is to allow what you do to be what you wish to be doing, and give the best of yourself to it. Immeasurable rewards will automatically be generated and returned tenfold to you and your community.
As Christine Day, CEO of lululemon athletica aptly states in the foreword,
“This is not your practice life; this is all there is.”
The conscious practice of yoga and all its metaphoric underpinnings poises one to fully immerse in the current of life, truly liberated from the bonds of ego.
What is more, research affirms that yoga and meditation slows the respiratory rate, heart rate and oxygen consumption.
The practice can actually change the brain, leading to increased compassion, self-awareness and memory. It can reduce anger, depression and performance anxiety, improve stress response, immunity, self-control and mood.
All of these fruits of the practice will truly enhance each and every aspect of life.
Yoga Wisdom at Work is a gracious and insightful inspiration.
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Asst. Editor: Kathleen O’Hagan/Ed: Bryonie Wise
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