As a company whose mission is to help individuals work well and be well, Being Well Yoga often is asked to provide Yoga for business or other organization meetings at hotels or conference centers. Typically, people have travelled from near and far, for a meeting where there will be professional development, strategic meetings, or any shared objectives. I am so delighted when meeting and conference planners decide to offer participants the opportunity to start their day with a group Yoga or meditation class. A conference room or area becomes our studio. Towels make fine Yoga mats when that is the available option. And in come “students” with varying levels of familiarity with each other and with Yoga and mindful practices. They are already grateful when they arrive—they may have some aches and pains from travel, or perhaps they didn’t sleep well. They might be new to Yoga or Yoga might be part of their regular routine and they are happy to have some normalcy to a day that may be spent inside listening to presentations, meeting and networking with new people, or making presentations. They might be anxious about something that is going on back home or at the office. They may know they will overindulge at the business dinner that night and are looking forward to doing something healthy. Whatever their intention, they are happy to have the opportunity to practice. The participants get a lot out of the practice, and that makes for attendees who are more connected, alert, calm, and present.
There are so many benefits to “event Yoga”. Here are my top 5:
1. A decision to be mindfully well translates into a positive outlook. This sends a signal to the brain, which people take that from the mat into the day. Approaching the day with an attitude of mindful wellness will result in attendees who are less likely to overdo it on the coffee or pastries, which will lead to an energy lull mid-day. They will feel more positive about themselves, which translates into positive feelings about others. They will be more comfortable and more alert, and more open to new ideas.
2. A moment to connect with oneself facilitates connecting with others. This gives attendees the opportunity to gain some perspective. As they move and breathe, they are encouraged to inquire into what they are dealing with and how they approach things. They may have the opportunity to settle some inner conflict which could have turned into an external conflict if they hadn’t dealt with it in practice. They also are able to listen to themselves and that hones a skill for listening to others.
3. A sense of comfort and ease in the body helps people pay attention and listen. It is challenging to sit for long periods of time, often in a hotel conference room without windows, and pay attention to speakers and programs, even when they are really interesting. Taking time in the morning to stretch the tight places in the body, and strengthen the body where support is needed, can really help people be comfortable as they sit, listen and learn.
4. A shared experience brings people together. At many conferences, people are travelling from all over the country, or even all over the world. A lot of people don’t know many others at the conference, which can lead to some social stress. A morning Yoga class is a wonderful shared experience that can begin to build community. And there is no pressure to talk, as the practice is internally focused. There is no competition. There is a sense of connection as participants breathe and move together, each in his or her own practice, yet supporting each other simply by being together. When practices end, I often see people introducing themselves to others, as they head out to get ready for the business portion of the day.
5. A fresh perspective, open mind and open heart create an atmosphere of harmony and cooperation. This is what Yoga “does”. And what meeting wouldn’t benefit from that??