Though "how you feel" has not conventionally been a corporate concern, yoga emphasizes the importance of emotional well-being in the workplace. L.A.-based Larry Payne, Ph.D., director of Samata International Yoga Center and coauthor of Yoga for Dummies (IDG Books, 1999), calls his method "User Friendly Yoga." He is careful to develop a nurturing, noncompetitive environment in the classes he teaches at the Viking Corporation, Candle Corporation, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. He also sets up yoga programs for executives at Ritz-Carlton and Loews Hotels, and teaches yoga to doctors at the UCLA Medical School. "It always takes the edge off. Students tell me they feel more peaceful after my class, and their coworkers confirm it," says Payne. "After I'd been teaching at the Getty for a year, a security captain told me there was a noticeable difference in the way the museum staff treated him: They were nicer."
In her corporate classes, Jill Edwards Minye, cofounder of the Yoga Circle in Sebastopol, California, helps students realize where they are holding tension—physical, mental, or emotional. Her intention is to guide people out of their heads and into their hearts. "Traditionally, corporations have valued aspects that are considered masculine—being focused and goal-oriented, and valuing the intellect over the heart. I'm trying to help people wake up to their feminine aspects: feelings, intuition, and softness," Minye says. "The most successful business people have a balance of the two." Perhaps the business community's growing awareness of this might account, at least in part, for the corporate yoga boom. Companies are finding that yoga not only helps employees be more productive, it also creates a kinder, gentler workplace.
Nancy Wolfson, who writes frequently on fitness, health, and style, has studied hatha yoga for 19 years. A former beauty editor at Glamour, Redbook, Parents, and Seventeen, she has written for Good Housekeeping, Shape, and New Age Journal.
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