So, why corporate yoga?

Lauren Goggins   |   Founder

The research shows that when employees participate in yoga and meditation it improves their quality of life and also increases productivity, but why do we have to call it “corporate”? 

yoga in the office

Honestly, "corporate yoga" is one of those phrases that simply annoys me. When I started teaching yoga in the workplace six years ago, I was teaching the same class that I would teach in a studio, but instead I taught it in a boardroom. When people asked me, “Where do you teach?” I would tell them that I teach in offices around Chicago. In the beginning, I so badly wanted “office yoga,” or “employee yoga” to stick, but it didn’t. Instead the industry got stuck with, “corporate yoga.”

Just putting the word “corporate” in front of something makes it LESS desirable. Think about this, when I say “corporate” what do you think?

Yes, suits, stuffy, stale, boring, and it ultimately takes me somewhere I do not want to be. 

So, then, why corporate yoga? If you google, “corporate yoga” there are so many awful pictures of people sitting crosslegged in a suit and tie on the boardroom table - yuck! There are also bogus ads for companies selling corporate yoga, and it looks like all of the adjectives for “corporate.” No, no, no. 

A solution to this dilemma has been haunting me for the past few weeks because I have been reworking BLY's Content Map, which includes all the things I want Bottom Line Yoga to be “known for.” And, of course, one of the main services we provide is “corporate yoga.” Except, what BLY really teaches is awesome yoga in offices, and in our studios, at times when it’s easy for professionals to attend classes.

BLY operates in the Chicago Loop, as a yoga and meditation space for professionals, but we are NOT corporate. In my search to show the world who we are at Bottom Line Yoga, I have had to also come to terms with the industry we work within. 

Should companies offer yoga?

Absolutely! In 2012 Duke University did a studio of Aetna employees that participated in a 12-week yoga and meditation program. The study found that 28% of participants reported a “reduction in stress,” 19% had a “reduction in pain,” and 20% stated an “improvement in sleep quality.” These are all great stats for individual employees because it shows that yoga and meditation programs really do have benefit. Duke also found that participants reported 62 more weekly productive minutes. In dollars Duke’s study showed that this program saved Aetna $3,000 annually per employee, which makes this a win/win.

So, regardless of what we call “yoga in the office,” the benefits speak for themselves. Yoga and meditation are practices that show a positive impact on physical and mental health. If you’re a company that cares about your employees, then offering these services is an effective way to improve employee’s quality of life, while also adding to your bottom line. 

When starting a program at your company, be aware of the companies who call themselves “corporate” because if you want your employees to actually show up for the class, then you don’t want it to feel corporate. If you want to do more for your employees, then the best thing you can do is support their health. 

Now, yoga industry, can we please come up with another name for what we do, so it’s more aligned with why we do it?