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As yoga continues to grow in popularity within mainstream culture, many companies and organizations now offer yoga classes for their employees.
Recently, I had the opportunity to experience this phenomenon for myself. Once a week, my fellow coworkers and I are able to take a yoga class at the school where I work, thanks to an agreement with Open Door, a local health clinic.
I’ve been practicing yoga for about three years now, and am no stranger to its healing and restorative powers. But I was curious—how would practicing yoga at work be different from practicing at home, or at my favorite studio? And is this something that every company should be doing?
The class was held in the school gymnasium. I unrolled my yoga mat across the glossy, painted floor, along with the other students. There were about ten of us: kindergarten and pre-kindergarten teachers, teaching assistants, the principal and assistant principal. I was one of the few who had practiced yoga before, and many were stepping onto their yoga mats for the very first time.
We began by lying on our backs, listening to our breathing. This is the way I always begin my personal practice, but this time it felt different. And strange. The ground beneath my yoga mat wasn’t the smooth wood of my bedroom floor, or the familiar carpet of my local yoga studio. Hundreds of four- and five-year-olds had run across this floor, and I could almost feel the vibration of their little feet thundering all around me. Though the instructor had put on ambient music, the voices of the children in the afterschool program walking through the hallway reverberated against the gym’s walls.
My body was so tense that my muscles were hard as stone, and thoughts raced through my mind at a whirlwind pace. As a pre-k teaching assistant, my job can be very stressful, and putting the needs of eighteen small children before my own, six hours a day, five days a week is really draining. I needed this time on my mat, and I needed it desperately.