by columnist Gabrielle Harris, The Suburban Yogini
Are you too busy at work to become liberated?
Would aliens snatch you up out of your office desk for analysis because of that mindless look on your face?
Do you want to incorporate more yoga into your daily work life?
Here are a few simple tips to turn your office day into a yoga day.
One of the definitions of yoga is to become disconnected from the connection to suffering. Going to work can potentially be a breeding ground for suffering. This is where we play out our life dramas. From lusting over the chick/bloke over the way to full on affairs. Work dos, morning teas, births, deaths, farewell parties. We get looked over for promotions or get promoted. Our boss doesn’t appreciate us, our boss loves us. It’s our life and a great opportunity to practice.
I once taught in this huge office of around 1200 people. Only around 12 of them came to yoga. I was going up a lift one day and I asked a man if he was coming to class, ‘No,’ he snapped, ‘You are all a bunch of weirdos. Hahahaha’. That gave me some insight to the fact that most office workers would rather be caught up in their own daily chaos rather than take a few moments to, well, practice yoga.
We are all different in the way we think, feel and react to situations. Luckily the sages of old came up with some different systems of yoga so we can enjoy liberation even when we are having morning tea.
Jnana Yoga: This is the yoga of knowledge, seeking and intelligence and wisdom. Some of the great jnana yogis were Buddha, Ghandi, Socrates and myself. Our philosophy is simple, it asks the questions ‘who am I’ and ‘Who are you’? It doesn’t mean you know everything, this is more worldly experience. It is concerned with self-knowledge.
Office tip: Cut out a little bit of card and write ‘Who am I’? on it and pop it on your computer. It’s ok to use office stationary as this is part of your personal training and development. Spend vast amounts of time thinking about this during work hours.
Alternatively if you are a visual learner get a wee mirror (not magnifying) and put that on your computer, every so often look into the mirror and chant like an owl. Who…who….who?????
Bhakti Yoga: This is the yoga of love and devotion. There are 3 stages on the cline to enlightenment through Bhakti yoga going from most unenlightened to enlightened. The first is the easiest in the office situation and that is devote all your actions to the divine without expecting anything in return.
Office tip: Pop down and buy a cake for the staff without anyone knowing and put it in the staffroom with ‘please enjoy’ sign. See what happens. How do you feel without praise, acknowledgement, gain or pleasure from this action? If you feel someone should have acknowledged you for this then you have a few more cakes to buy and probably some coffee as well. Keep practicing.
Karma Yoga: The yoga of action. When you are performing Karma yoga you are doing everything with a meditative like awareness or presence. Your senses are on fire and you are aware of every part of every action.
Office tip. Eating your lunch. Notice your food, the shapes colours and textures. Take a sample and feel it in your mouth, appreciate your food and all that has taken to get it to you. Not Karma yoga, sit at office desk and stuff food into your face while reading the newspaper and then wonder what happened to your lunch.
Mantra Yoga: The yoga of sound or vibration. We can aim for liberation in our office by enjoying listening to or reciting powerful sounds or Mantras such as om, hum, ram, hare Krishna, I am that etc.
Office tip: Put your elbows on your desk and block off your ears with your fingers and hum internally to yourself. Also known as bee breath Bhramari. A great way to cleanse the mind and enjoy your own vibrations especially when someone else’s vibrations are putting you on edge.
Hatha Yoga:The physical side to yoga, the asana or postures. Here is a sample for when things get a bit stressful.
Deaf mans pose: Particularly useful in the middle of a meeting with your boss when he/she is talking rubbish.
Savasana: The corpse pose. Push everything off your desk and take time out, good around that lull in the pm when you are feeling tired.
Child’s pose: A great one to do under your desk as you have the added benefit of the cocoon-like environment.
Happy baby. You can use this to attract attention to yourself. Also good for calming the nervous system.
Remember, the Yogic path you choose on the road to Self-Realization is irrelevant; they all lead to the same outcome.
Whatever approach we take, there must be a commitment to self-change. Whether the practice is physical or mental it must lead us to letting go of our old behaviour patterns revealing to us a deeper side to our nature. The closer we come to Self-realisation the more ordinary we become. If we use the yogic teachings in our daily life we can be at home either washing the dishes or going to work. It is through this ordinary life that we can truly disconnect with our connection to suffering.