September 25, 2013

Hire a Yogi! ~ Mary Ann Lopez

I was laid off about a month ago and while the layoff happened quickly, I wasn’t really that upset about it—I was ready for change.

Searching for a new job can be challenging what with all the online applications, cover letters to draft and the ongoing rejection.

As I search for a new job, there is one thing I refuse to compromise: being true to who I am.

To do otherwise just for a job would basically be selling my soul. I want a job, but refuse to be something I’m not just to earn a paycheck.

My “career” was as a journalist but after being laid off once before from a media company, I went to yoga teacher training to have another path available. Along with working as a journalist, I have been teaching yoga part-time for about two years. Luckily for me, when I was laid off in August 2013, a yoga teaching opportunity came my way, so I have been teaching a few days a week.

While I teach part-time, I continue to do the job search for a full-time gig. I’m connecting on LinkedIn and contacting a variety of people for assistance with my search.

Recently, a relative who lives in Denver suggested that including my yoga teaching in my LinkedIn profile was too “Boulderish” and might turn off some employers.

“It’s better to take a middle of the road approach,” he said.

My view about including teaching on my profile is that it is a job I have, it’s something I do and it shows I am not sitting around moping, I’m working and making things happen.

I am doing something I love, which is also part of who I am.

I was kind of surprised at my relative’s feedback that the majority of employers would be turned off. I know some employers might find the yoga teacher thing too “touchy-feely,” which to me is a sad statement, but also makes me wonder:

1) If an employer finds it too touchy-feely, why would I want to work for them?

2) If employers really want a healthy, happy, motivated work force, why wouldn’t they want a yogi on their team?

3) How many companies might benefit, become more efficient, effective and innovative, if they had more yogis in their employ?

Here are a few reasons why  an employer should want a yogi for an employee:

1) Health and Wellness

I have practiced yoga on and off for years but for about the last six it’s been an integral part of my life. Through my yoga practice, I have improved my health both mentally and physically. My eating habits have also improved.

Employers, if you don’t hire someone because they do yoga, then you are not only missing out on hiring someone who is bendy flexible but who is also less likely to be sick.

In my own personal experience over the last three years I never took a sick day. While I may have had a slight cold, I never was sick to the point of missing work. And that extends to my mental health. I was always ready to work and up to the task.

According to the Mayo Clinic, yoga can help people who practice regularly manage chronic conditions including heart problems, high blood pressure, depression and pain, along with providing stress reduction.

In addition, in his article in Yoga Journal. Dr. Timothy McCall, M.D. says that yoga benefits the lymphatic system, allowing it to fight off infection. Other benefits he describes include improving cholesterol, lowering the bad LDL and raising the good HDL. It also helps with diabetes by lowering blood sugar, cortisol and adrenaline.

We always hear about the cost companies incur to provide health insurance. If an employer is serious about having employees who are ready to work, who are healthy and who will need less medical care, passing up a yogi for someone who is probably less healthy in diet, exercise and mental fitness will cost them in the long run.

2) Flexibility on and off the mat

A yogi who practices regularly is on their mat sweating and holding poses that are not always the most comfortable. I do it and look forward to it on a regular basis. Yoga helps us quiet the mind and focus to get through the difficult poses.

Through my practice, I am more flexible in body and mind. When things happen that might otherwise throw me off balance—such as losing my job unexpectedly—I don’t freak out. (Well, maybe for a few minutes). I am able to go with the flow. I am able to be comfortable in the discomfort.

The yogi is able to breathe through the moment and not struggle.

Employers, think how that translates in the office. Yoga makes your employee(s) learn to work with, rather than against, situations. Rather than seeing a challenge, they see possibility. Rather than panicking at a new deadline or having to deal with a difficult client, they are able to find ways to meet goals and achieve outcomes that might not have happened if they freaked out and were just angry about their workload.

3) A force for good in the office space

People I know with a regular yoga practice tend to have a sunnier view of life and a better overall disposition. I’m not going to say a yogi never has a bad day, but in my experience, people who practice yoga are happier, are able to find the positive in what might otherwise be a negative situation and also try to inspire others to see the good rather than the bad.

Why wouldn’t an employer want someone working for them who brings joy to everything they do?

Positive people can inspire others to find their greatness. It makes sense to employ those who inspire others and thus create more inspiring, dynamic and hard-working, happy employees. Nobody wants to be around people living under a cloud. I’ll take the sunshine over the rain any day.

4) Calm demeanor

This kind of goes along with being flexible. When a person is living in balance, not a lot throws them off their game.

Rather than getting upset when an unexpected situation arises, the yogi—who is living their practice is able to see the big picture—evaluate and retain a sense of equanimity.

As a teacher of mine used to say, you become unmessable with. Imagine being at a meeting and getting a total curve ball thrown your way. If you are unmessable with, you hit the ball out of the park rather than striking out. That happened to me in a meeting where a new initiative was introduced. Rather than seeing it negatively, as some may have, I saw it as a way to be more productive. I shared my views in a way that my colleagues were able to understand and eventually our team saw the benefits and got on board. My bosses saw me as a leader in that moment.

5) Pushing boundaries

The first time I attempted to arm balance in crow pose, I fell. I didn’t land on my face, but I came close. I fell over and over and over. Until one day, I didn’t fall. The same goes for headstand and a bunch of other poses. I put in the practice, was resilient and succeeded. I had to do something that made me very uncomfortable, but over time, I pushed myself, pushed my boundaries and took my yoga practice to a higher level. And, of course, I learned a lot about myself in the process, including that any goal can be met but it requires practice, effort and the risk of failure.

In the workplace, that ability to get outside the comfort zone translates to thinking outside of the box. At a time when businesses are trying to do more with less, whether fewer employees or less capital, doesn’t it make sense to hire those who are able to flex themselves mentally and physically? Those who literally can turn their world upside down while remaining calm? No risk means no reward in life or in business. It’s easy to continue to do things according to the status quo, but that doesn’t push boundaries, meet new goals or allow for innovation. Doing things the way they always worked no longer works in today’s business or job market.

6) Open mindedness

Yogis aren’t perfect. There are some who are judgmental, who think they are open minded, but who really have as Baron Baptiste says: “A concern for looking good.” But, overall, your average yogi is open minded, willing to try new things and see the bright side.

Employers, don’t judge us by our practice if it isn’t in line with your own personal experience.

There continues to be a misunderstanding of what yoga is and who yogis are. The idea that it is too “Boulderish” to say, “I’m a yoga teacher,” is a stereotype that is so outdated and outmoded it’s pathetic.

For those employers really wanting to push boundaries, really seeking to hire people who are truly “dynamic and synergistic,” who are team builders and positive forces for meeting goals, then look no further than your average yogi.

You might be surprised.

Oh, and if you’re hiring, drop me a line.

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Assistant Ed: Kristina Peterson/Ed: Sara Crolick

{Photo: via Pinterest}

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