It seems simple enough: Clear out a space in the office for yoga, and give employees a break to stretch and unwind. In most major cities, there are plenty of options to make this happen: Go with a big corporate wellness company, work with a smaller office yoga company, or go straight to a yoga teacher who is friends with someone on staff. But teaching yoga in an office has its challenges, and it takes an effective teacher to create a sustainable office yoga routine.
To make the most of your budget, choose an effective teacher. Working with one of the bigger national corporate wellness companies could cost you anywhere from $500 or more per session, and may not have the best quality control when it comes to instruction. Working with a smaller company or individual could cost significantly less, and have higher quality services. Regardless of where you find your teacher, they are the most important factor in making your company’s office yoga program work.
The teacher is key in creating a sustainable office yoga program. You’re making an investment, so invest wisely. What should you look for in an office yoga teacher? I’ve interviewed Chandra Lovejoy, founder of Lovejoy Office Yoga in Sacramento, California, about what to look for.
A Warm and Friendly Demeanor:
Let’s be real. If the teacher isn’t friendly and welcoming, people won’t keep coming back to their class. In an office yoga situation, the same teacher generally comes back for every session. If they aren’t warm and friendly, it will be hard for staff to warm up to them.
Clarity in Instruction:
It is common for people to try yoga for the first time at the office. If the office yoga teacher’s instructions aren’t clear, many beginners in the room could be lost. This is one of the main reasons why I highly recommend working with a teacher who has experience in offices. A studio yoga teacher may struggle to clearly guide an office population.
Knowledge of Poses:
Most certified yoga teachers have the basic knowledge of yoga poses that would allow them to succeed working in a gym or yoga studio. But does their experience translate well to the office? If they haven’t had any formal training on adaptive yoga for office workers, make sure they have at least done some research and have basic knowledge about how to teach a sedentary population.
“I believe these are minimum requirements”, says Lovejoy, who has extensive knowledge on anatomy and sequencing yoga for offices. She emphasized that teachers should invest in themselves to continuously learn through advanced training, personal study and practice, and constant revision of verbal instruction.
In her recent blog post, Lovejoy emphasizes that the number of people who report practicing yoga has grown to over 36 million people, according to 2016 data from Ipsos Public Affairs. It’s only natural that the number of people practicing yoga in the workplace will increase. In order to make sure your office yoga program is sustainable, take Lovejoy’s advice, and make sure your teacher has the qualifications that will make it work!
Lauren Coles is the founder of a corporate wellness company in New York City, and creator of Office Yoga Teacher Training. With a Master’s Degree in Education, she works with specialized populations, including office workers, urban adolescents, and people with disabilities. Her work has been featured in Huffington Post, Complex, and Entrepreneur.