Yoga at Work and Embracing the Full Spectrum

Embrace the principles of yoga at work and let ideas within energize your spirit and enhance your work experience.


| October 2013



Yoga Wisdom at Work

“Yoga Wisdom at Work," by Maren Showkeir and Jamie Showkeir, illustrates how the full spectrum of yogic principles can bring about a more productive, creative, and energizing work day.

Photo By Fotolia/nyul

Yoga at Work and Embracing the Full Spectrum

Yoga Wisdom at Work (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. 2013,) by Maren Showkeir and Jamie Showkeir invites the reader to embrace all of yoga's teachings to cultivate the spark of the divine within. Featuring examples from professions such as law enforcement, teaching, medicine, and more, this work encourages one to build a productive and energizing office environment. In this excerpt from "Beginner's Mind: The Power and the Promise," the authors write of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, and how yoga wisdom at work can pay dividends in all aspects of life.

More often than we can count, people have said to us, “I could never do yoga. I’m not flexible” (or “I’m too hyper”). That logic is like saying, “I can’t tend to my garden—it has too many weeds in it.” Or to use a work metaphor, “I can’t clean out my email inbox. It has too many messages in it.”

It’s understandable. The sheer amount of stuff we are asked to attend to in our daily lives can be overwhelming. But when people say they lack the physicality to put their bodies into yoga poses, they are not taking into account that it is the practice that develops flexibility, balance, and a quiet mind.

In any case, yoga on the mat is only one part of the practice—one-eighth, to be exact. To use one of Jamie’s favorite analogies, the physical practice (asana) doesn’t represent the full spectrum of yoga any more than looking through a knothole in a fence and seeing a pitcher throw and catch a ball gives you a complete picture of a baseball game’s nine innings. Renowned Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, who received an honorary degree from the University of Calcutta, said, “Yoga practice would be ineffectual without the concepts on which yoga is based. It combines the bodily and the spiritual in an extraordinarily complete way.”

The first time I heard a yoga teacher mention the “Eight Limbs of Yoga,” I was a mid-career newspaper journalist, and the term sounded bizarre to me. I imagined some exotic Hindu deity with appendages sprouting from its body like an octopus. Although I had taken a few yoga classes at that time, I knew almost nothing about the provenance or philosophical underpinnings of this rich, ancient tradition. While the teacher’s brief description of the Eight Limbs sounded interesting, it also was foreign, peculiar, and a little too “woo-woo” for my mindset at the time. The exotic words she used were hard to remember. My brain did not fully register the notion that yoga had far more to offer than exercise.

What I have since discovered is that the Eight Limbs of Yoga contain a potent philosophy that can have a positive influence on every aspect of your life, especially the way you work. Continuing your on-the-mat practice by living yogic principles off the mat at work will help you become more successful. It will enhance your sense of meaning and purpose in a way that makes work more satisfying and rewarding and less stressful.