Are you miserable in your job? Hold this picture in your mind for a minute: 30 bodies are packed into a crowded room where temperatures exceed 100 degrees. They are forced to perform repetitive motions and hold uncomfortable positions for long periods of time. Their leader gives loud commands and looks disapprovingly at their performance. Their faces drip with sweat and tears . . . Is this a sweatshop in a third-world country where exploited workers are paid a single dollar per day?
Nope. This is a hot yoga studio in a suburban neighborhood where soccer moms pay twenty dollars per class.
Work as yoga
No, I’m not going to preach about being grateful for your job when many others are working in much worse conditions. My point is this: if we can experience the hellish conditions of a hot yoga class as an opportunity for mindfulness, surely there is an opportunity to do the same for our work lives.
By rethinking our concept of ‘yoga’, we have the opportunity to see our jobs as yoga. For many of us, the term ‘yoga’ conjures images of a faddish fitness trend. However, the traditional definition of yoga is any practice that helps humans to connect mind and body. When viewed in this broader context, we have the opportunity to view work as a yogic practice. When performed deliberately and mindfully, work itself is yoga.
For many of us, work is inherently stressful. However, that stress can be viewed in one of two ways. We can either view stress as a soul-crushing force that grinds us down; or we can view stress as refining force that pushes to grow into our best selves. In the same way that the rigors of a hot yoga class can help us in focusing our minds on the present, a rigorous job can to the same. The choice is ours to make.
[Original post published November 2015]