Tips and considerations for teaching workplace yoga by Veronica King.
Workplace Yoga is not the same as studio yoga. That’s the first and most important thing to remember when looking to teach yoga in the workplace. This is a summary of the Yoga New Zealand Forum which was held recently. 3 speakers were invited to share their wisdom, experience, and tips for teaching yoga in workplaces. With gratitude to Bridgid Davey and Vanessa Bailey who shared with authenticity and vulnerability. The third presenter was me, Veronica King.
Perhaps the most impactful thing we all agreed on, was coming together as yoga professionals to have these conversations and to support each other.
This is my summary of top tips for anyone looking to expand their teaching from the studio to the boardroom.
Before we go any further we all acknowledged that it can be a really hard niche of teaching yoga to get into. Having said that, it is also incredibly rewarding when you do. You have the opportunity to reach people who may never otherwise set foot on a yoga mat, so with a bit of perseverance, planning, and serendipity, you could be making a real difference in peoples working day.
- Understand who you are selling your services to. If possible try and talk to the decision maker/ budget holder in the organisation. Often we are approached by a keen student, but it saves a lot of time and work if you can politely find out who will ultimately be making the decision about the classes, and communicate with them direct
- Outline the benefits to the business. In the corporate world, any spending needs to come with tangible benefits to the organisation. Will the attendees be more productive from Yoga during their work day? Think business speak, things like clarity, focus, concentration, and resilience.
- Participant buy-in is also required, so your second audience is the students! Create a separate communication for them that is more specific to them, outlining details like what you will be teaching. Address the barriers to participants such as “will I be able to do this?” and “what shall I wear?”.
- Recommend class blocks, 4-6 weeks so you are not doing extra admin or turning up to 2 students. Make sure you consider your unseen time and costs when you create your pricing – proposal time, room set up and pack down time, travel time and costs, and administration, a workplace class should not be invoiced for the same amount you charge for a studio class as a teacher.
- Get SMEAP – Stress Management Programme registered so you can become an FBT exempt provider of stress reducing exercise programs. For more information on this email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit stressmanagementexercise.co.nz
The yoga sessions, and teaching tips:
- There will be more newbies than experienced yogis. As a workplace contractor and under the Health and Safety Act of 2015, you are personally liable for any incidents that happen as a result of the yoga. Teach with the beginner in mind. Have options for those who might be experienced and want more, but base your class on safe, inclusive, and accessible poses.
- The most common stressor for participants is what to wear. Workplace yoga sessions often happen during lunch hour, participants will not want to work up a sweat when they will most likely not have a shower after yoga. Plan the class so that people could do the poses in loose comfortable clothing, often people will forget their yoga clothes and come in their workwear!
- Keep the tone of your language neutral, this is not the time for Sanskrit names and mantras. It can be helpful to explain the benefits of what you are asking people to do and why.
- Be mindful of the environment you are going into. Choose your most business-appropriate teaching attire. Clothes that you can move in but are appropriate for the workplace.
- Offer reassurance, create agency and autonomy, and remind people they don’t have to do what you are asking them to do!
- Be punctual with your finishing time, people will often stress about getting back to meetings, and most likely they won’t have eaten lunch beforehand. Running overtime quickly undoes all of the calm that was created in the class.
With the spread of COVID here in NZ at the time of publishing, it’s totally understandable that most workplaces will not be inviting Yoga teachers onsite YET. However, it’s great to get organised, create your marketing, and work on your strategy. The world needs yoga, and busy stressful workplaces absolutely will need you in the future.
This blog was a summary of the 2022 Yoga New Zealand Forum on Yoga in the Workplace. Yoga NZ provides regular member events to support, nourish and educate the NZ Yoga Teaching and Yoga Therapist community. Register to become a member.
Veronica King editor of the Yoga Lunchbox, Project Manager for Yoga NZ, and director of the online recorded library The Yoga Nidra Project.