Mindfulness Moment / How can yoga help remote workers keep their minds and bodies in shape?

The Pandemic has shifted many of us to doing things from home we normally would do elsewhere. This can be both liberating and isolating. It has also made us stationary. How can we regain some movement in our bodies and minds while doing remote work?

Person in a Yoga pose

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My experience with working remotely 

It’s not a coincidence that my journey with yoga and working from home started at the same time. The year would be 2004, and as sometimes happens, I was a lost liberal arts graduate taking some time to figure things out in northeastern Brazil. I met a guy there who was doing what millions of people would start doing only 18 years later: working on his laptop wherever he pleased. It blew my mind that this guy would travel around to different hostels and exchange his stay for working on their websites while also maintaining other clients in São Paulo and beyond. 

In 2004, even though much of the web was populated by plain HTML/CSS sites, database-driven websites were clearly the future of giving clients power over content while the designer/developer managed layout and design. I stuck around while the guy, by now my boyfriend, taught me everything I needed to get started helping him build database-driven websites. He had created his own content management system, but it wasn’t long before we started working with a new content management system that everyone was excited about: WordPress.

This new life was pretty cool, but there was one issue. If I were to hang out in Brazil and make websites, I needed a way to exercise before sitting down for a long day in a chair. Not being Brazilian or very street-savvy, I wasn’t sure about venturing outside alone early or late in the day. At the time there weren’t yoga studios on every corner, and gyms have never been my thing. I had heard about yoga and wanted to try it. Since I was in this new world of doing things from home, I thought, why not also do yoga from home? So I bought a yoga DVD, and that DVD would be my morning exercise over the next year.

Yoga and the desk job: a necessary combination?

Doing yoga from home is not only much cheaper than seeking out a studio, but you also save time from not commuting. I would also add that it is closer to the original intention of yoga which is to connect to your inner self. There are those who claim that if you do yoga from home, you may be learning the poses incorrectly. That could be true, but I would argue that each person’s body is different, so learning a pose is more about learning how your body does that pose, not trying to emulate someone else. A good online teacher will instruct you in the end result you are reaching for, not what your body should look like.

Early in my own journey, I discovered that the days that I didn’t do yoga, I would be in pain–not just physical pain but also mental, as I struggled to make my brain bend around troubleshooting issues after a long day. I embraced the fact that yoga simply came with desk jobs. They are inseparable for me. Later, when I moved back to the US and started my own website development business, I got into the habit of keeping a yoga mat by my desk. In the middle of a troubleshooting session when I would feel like a hamster turning a wheel, I would take a moment for shavasana. Five minutes later, the answer to the issue would lightly pop into my head. 

Yoga and other mindfulness practices are needed now more than ever

Yoga has been my bedrock all of these years, just as remote website development has been the topsoil that puts the food on the table. As more people discover the benefits of working from home, I would argue that we also need to look into ways to balance sedentary instincts that come from being in our home environments. For many, yoga can be the perfect solution.

If you are looking into starting a practice at home, I recommend giving yourself a schedule in which you work in a small amount of time for yoga each day. For example, start with 10 minutes at the beginning of each day. Notice how you feel afterwards. You will be surprised what a 10 minute practice at the beginning of the day can do for you throughout the rest of the day. After a week, ask yourself if you would like to do more. Have an ongoing conversation with yourself and hear yourself out without judgment. I notice that if I have suspended my home practice due to a trip or sickness, it is hard to get back into a longer daily practice. I generally dip back in with a 20 minute slow practice and ramp up as I feel appropriate. The key is to build a practice that you look forward to.

In the future I hope to explore other ways that remote workers can incorporate mindfulness and movement into their lives in pursuit of better personal health and productivity.

Links

  • Yoga Anytime – This is my favorite online yoga website. The instructors are excellent and practices are organized by shows and seasons so that if you like a certain instructor or type of practice, there is certain to be more of the same thing.
  • Yogis Anonymous – Here’s another good yoga website similar to the above.
  • Yoga with Adrienne – Adrienne has a huge selection of free yoga videos and is as close to a yoga celebrity as it gets.
  • Ali Cramer – Ali gives a free ½ hour class a few times a week on her Instagram channel, and she also dips into Ayurveda if you’re into that.
  • Livinleggins – This instructor has several free tutorials, pose breakdowns and troubleshooting videos, lessons, challenge series, and flow classes on YouTube. She explains the anatomy and science of poses in easy to understand language and is a fun and upbeat teacher.
  • Gaia.com – Aside from the yoga classes and a large pose library, on Gaia you’ll find other fitness videos like pilates and tai chi, guided meditations, documentaries, movies, healthy eating and lifestyle information, articles, interviews and more.

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