Bring Your Yoga to Work!

Yoga is not just something confined to the four corners of your yoga mat. We can practice yoga every moment of the day by bringing mindfulness to every perception, every action and every interaction we experience. And guess what, it’s invaluable at work. Here are just a couple way that practicing yoga at work can help you have a more positive experience of work (and then a couple of ways to remember to do it!)

  • Breath: In our yoga practice we consciously breath into challenge, to give us strength and to steady our mind. It’s also useful when we encounter a challenge at work. Take a few deep breaths before responding to the challenge, and endeavor to keep the steadiness in your mind that tells you “I can handle so much more than I think I can.”
  • Awareness: Mindfulness, and our yoga practice, stands on the foundation of awareness. We must be aware in order to be in choice. The same goes for work. We must truly be aware of how we are showing up in each situation in order to empower ourselves to make a different choice. Each time there’s something challenging, do you react with impatience and frustration and start to snap? Do you double down on your focus and forget about other people having an experience of that challenge? Noticing gives us options.
  • Non-judgment: Okay, okay WE hears this one all the time—but you HAVE to judge when you’re at work. Maybe… but try this on: you need to evaluate what is and continue moving forward with better and more information. Calling it good or bad may be optional. And calling a person good or bad is definitely optional. Watch what happens when you can slow the roll on judgment and stand squarely in the mutual purpose of having a successful outcome.
  • Vulnerability: The dreaded V word at work. And yet, as Brene Brown reminds us, this is the birthplace of creativity and innovation. Sometimes we have to say “I don’t know.” Sometimes we need to be wrong in order to get to our desired outcome. And sometimes we need to show we are human in order to truly lead other humans. This is a great place to experiment and play with showing up as more and more of your whole self.  Yes even at work!

So how do you remember to use your yoga at work? It’s a practice just like anything else. And the more you can bring moments of your “regular” yoga to work, the more you’ll remember to keep it alive in between. That’s why WE created online office yoga breaks through YogaDownload. These breaks range from 5-15 minutes and address a multitude of work challenges. If you want a discount for a YogaDownload membership, click here to get a year unlimited membershp for $29.

And even better, talk to us about bringing an in-person yoga class to your workplace. We currently offer classes in Denver and Los Angeles, and we’re eager to help you share your yoga with your co-workers! Contact us here.

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Posted on: October 11th, 2016 No Comments

Work Smarter: Office Breaks for Your Brain and Body

It’s 3pm. You’re brain is fuzzy. It’s getting harder and harder to focus. Your body is sore from sitting. And you just want to make that final push to get that last bit done and then you’ll take a break. Or maybe you’re looking at the finish line to go home and want to get the last 3 items done on your to-do list and then you can leave. Just push a little more, a little harder. The problem is, it’s taking forever. You’re re-reading lines, you’re slumping into your seat, and you’re attention is all over the place.

Here’s what we know about that: our pre-frontal cortex (PFC), our “thinking brain” is a very limited resource. For any activities involving understanding, deciding, recalling, memorizing or inhibiting, we need our thinking brain. Unfortunately, the brain’s energy gets depleted very quickly. When our brain’s energy is depleted, we resort to our mental maps (habits and shortcuts) to get us through the best we can. This is when our work suffers, things take longer than we think they will and the end of the day leaves us with no energy to spare for loved ones.

And don’t we all want to do our best work and have energy to spare for loved ones (or ourselves) at the end of the day?

Yes, yes we do.

Enter the Office Breaks on Yoga Download. One of the things both your brain and your body need to refuel is oxygen. So when we get to that place where our brain is fuzzy and we feel the urge to push through… stop. Seriously, stop. Instead of taking the 30 minutes it will take you to finish up without your PFC, take a break and it will only take you 5 or 10 minutes to do even better work.

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These Office Breaks are specifically designed for common moments in our work days like when your brain is fuzzy, you’re low on energy, or you’re overwhelmed (among others!). WE deliberately structures these breaks to give your brain the oxygen it needs, give your body the movement it needs, and give your mind an invitation to shift your experience towards something better.

The result is that you do better work, are more efficient, your body feels better, and you have energy to spare at the end of the day.

So taking little breaks throughout the day is the easy choice, right?

We wish! None of us make good decisions when our brains are already depleted. So don’t rely on your brain because it will do what it’s always done.  Instead, make it a literal no-brainer. Schedule a calendar reminder every 90 minutes to try an Office Break. This will give you a reminder at just the right time, and relinquishes your brain of needing to make any more decisions when it’s already exhausted. Wouldn’t that be nice!

Try the Office Breaks. Track the results for a few weeks. Let us know how it goes.

Workplace Evolved offers 5, 10, and 20-minute office breaks designed for common situations we encounter in the workday.  The first two are live on Yoga Download, with 15 more recorded. If you have any requests, just let us know. We’ll use your feedback, requests and results to fuel this segment of Yoga Download and hope to have many more breaks available online over time.  Just one of the ways WE is changing the way the world works!

Posted on: January 11th, 2016 No Comments

Your Brain & Social Media: What We Don’t Know, What WE Does Know, and a Challenge to Make Your Skin Crawl!

This is your brain.

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This is your brain on social media.

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Just kidding.

You’re brain isn’t getting fried by social media like it would by drugs!  At least, not exactly. (Turns out there’s research that the parts of our brains that light up for drug addiction, also light up for a hit of social media…)

There is a lot of interesting information out there about the impact social media is having on us– speculation, studies, and surveys that strongly indicate social media does have an impact on our brains (for quick highlights check out this awesome video.  Some information indicates social media has a very useful and connecting effect.  Some people are concerned about the lost art of boredom, while others suggest that having the world at our fingertips is an invaluable gift that should be used at all times.  Then there’s the concern our brains need rest, and might not be getting it. There’s an estimate floating around there that one hundred years ago, the stimulation we received in a year is equal to what we now get daily.  Whoa.  So, this is all pretty new.  There’s a lot we don’t know.

But there are a couple of things WE does know:

  1. Our ability to stay in choice is critical to effective (and non-destructive) use of social media.
  2. The immediacy and constant flow of information means we have to proactively choose breaks for our brain if we want to have optimal brain function.

Let’s start with the first idea.  If you clicked on the video you got a little taste of the addictive quality of social media.  Our brains are like “low energy investment! high feel-good return!!!”  And your limbic brain is all “More!  More! Is there something now?!? Did someone like this post!?!”  Or, something like that.  It can feel good and that’s not a bad thing.  The part that can have a negative impact on us is when we are out of choice about it.  When we click because we must. When we can’t (or rationalize we’d rather not) control it.  It consumes our thoughts and becomes habit. Most of us have felt that “check it” tug, usually at the first hint of boredom.  And typically, we give in rather quickly and check.  In fact, we might not even have that moment where we consider whether or not to check.  We just do it.  We fill empty space with something.  Anything. These thoughtless clicks pull us away from a real life interaction, from the task at hand, or (gulp) from boredom.

That leads us straight to the second point.  There is so much flying at you, constantly.  There  is alarming information about (ironically) how much information is coming at your all the time.  Every bit of data requires your brain to ask how important is this, should I do it right now, where does this fit in with what I already know, let me make a note to come back to this, etc… and you have bits of data coming at you constantly.  It’s costly.  And if you want access to your best brain, it’s best to spend some time getting zero data.

Yup, we said it.  Zero data.  Get bored!  On purpose!  Back in the day things like the sun going down, coming home from the office, or when the television stopped airing shows (yes, this happened every night), made that choice for us.  And now, we never have to be alone.  We never have to be bored.  And we never have to space out, day dream, or (gulp again) feel what we’re feeling.  We have an immediate escape.  So now it’s on us to make the choice to pause.  To unplug.  To be still.

And yes, it can be terrifying.  That’s why this is a challenge that will make your skin crawl.  It’s uncomfortable because we’re not used to it.  We may have anxiety because someone may need something from us (and??  Aside from an emergency what is the cost of a delayed response?). We tend to avoid space, silence and boredom.  And in brain terms, we need those things.

So, here’s the 2-part challenge:

  1. Choose 30, 60 or 90 minutes as your challenge– and each day that’s how long you’ll be truly unplugged. (You can go for a walk without your phone, take a bath, or sit– just no incoming data from any device)
  2. Other than work email during working hours (we encourage scheduled breaks for this too!), decide the night before when you are going to check social media for the next day.  It can be every 10 minutes if that’s what you want, it can be every hour, or the beginning and end of the day… just make the choice.  Decide ahead of time what works for you and then trust it.  No renegotiating.

Challenge Runs 30 DAYS: starting Monday May 17th until Monday June 15th! Use the hashtag #WEunplugchallenge2015

That’s it.

Well, plus a tip.  If a situation comes up where someone truly may need you for an emergency, note that there is a “Do Not Disturb” feature on most phones that allows you to shut off calls/texts/emails except from designated people.  Check that feature out.  If you’re otherwise just worried about being offline, let your inner circle know you’re doing it and when.  Better yet, ask them to join!

Okay, who’s in?  WE’s leadership team is doing it– Dia Draper, Melissa Bennet and Heather Rees— so, join us!

Super ironically, check in on our Facebook page for how it’s going and participation prizes!  WE will be doing the same!  At scheduled times of course.

Posted on: May 15th, 2015 No Comments

#HugYourBrain

Tip one:  Think of your brain as a muscle.  In fact, think of your brain as all of your muscles.

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Many of us are familiar with the concepts of working out and getting in shape (even if we don’t do it regularly).  Your brain works much the same way: you have different parts of the brain that do different things for you.  Two really useful perspectives come from this metaphor:

Using the same part of your brain over and over without working the other parts of your brain will make you look like this guy:

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Okay, maybe not literally, but let’s roll with it.  As strong as this guy may be in his upper body, he’s going to have a hard time hiking up a mountain, or jumping over an obstacle; he’s not very versatile in what he can do.  Hugging our brain includes loving all parts equally.  This is important not just so we don’t look like that guy, but also because we lose effectiveness in parts of our brains that get overused.

Which leads us to our second useful perspective…

Our brains get tired.  Every good personal trainer will tell you to take a rest day, or two.  The brain needs rest too, in a big way.

More often than not our version of rest is physical rest, and our brains are still asked to do a lot of “work” while we “rest”: imagine all the worst possible scenarios of how something could pan out, think through (over and over) how we should have done something differently or how someone did us wrong, go over and over our ever-growing to-do list, etc. Hugging our brain includes giving our brains a break so they can do what they do even better.

So, if we think of our brain as all of our muscles, what do we do?

There are LOTS of ways to do this, and WE is just highlighting our favorites:

  1. Do something you don’t normally do!  If you aren’t a creative person (according to you or some silly people that told you your stick drawing wasn’t up to par), set aside some time to draw, doodle, take photographs, sing, etc.  If you aren’t an analytical person (according to you or some silly people that didn’t think the way you thought), set aside time to play some logic games, break a goal into 10 smaller steps, play with math or make a budget, solution find with an evaluation of the best solution, etc.  Try new things, and challenge yourself to think in different ways.  Your brain will be stronger and happier for it!
  2. For the love of all things brain-friendly, stop multi-tasking!  Multi-tasking is one of the biggest myths of efficiency.  Our brains literally can’t do more than one thing at once.  So all you’re doing is constantly switching attention so quickly that your brain hardly knows what to do with itself.  You may feel  productive, but you’re brain is feeling unloved, easily depleted and like it’s stuck at its worst.  Focusing on one thing at a time is a big ol’ hug for your brain.
  3. Group action-items based on what part of your brain it uses.  Now that we aren’t multi-tasking, look at how you plan out your focused time.  Have some writing to do on several projects?  Block those together for a 90 minute block, then switch to your administrative tasks for another 90 minutes, etc. The overall structure of grouping time this way let’s you get the most out of your brain for one type of action, and then switch to rest that part and get the most use out of another part.  WE also recommends a 5-minute break between 90 minute blocks (90 minutes is a brain-friendly amount of time to hold focus), to get a little reset for your brain.
  4. Sleep/Nap/Zone-Out.  Sleep and naps are more than just sweet for our brains, they are necessary.  Parts of our brain get a real break during sleep and it’s critical for working at our best.  The benefits of sleep may be no surprise to you, but zoning-out is usually considered unproductive time.  Well, not anymore!  When brains are zapped we naturally feel a moment of wanting to zone-out.  The brain-friendly thing to do is to do it!  Forcing our brains to keep working usually means the task will take us twice as long and it usually won’t get done as well.  Taking even just 3-5 minutes to zone out can re-energize your brain.  20 minutes is even better.  Check in with that analytical mind for a moment: taking 20 minutes off so you get something done in 1 hour is still more efficient than pushing through and letting it take 2 hours.  (WE understands there are deadlines and exceptions, please make these the exception though, not the rule.)
  5. Meditate.  Meditation is one of the most-studied and most-effective means of actually making your brain stronger and better-rested.  A seated meditation practice for at least 12 minutes a day is ideal, but you can start with as few as 3 minutes and build from there.  Meditation gives brains a break, and grows our ability to focus and respond thoughtfully to situations through the day (among many other benefits).  It’s the best and biggest hug you could ever give your brain.  Just a tiny note: beware the part of your brain that will tell you that you can’t or aren’t doing it right.  It’s a practice.  Plus, even if you just zone-out while meditating, see above for why you did awesome!

Please let us know how it goes!  And remember, for different results, we need different neural pathways!  That’s why we started the #HugYourBrain campaign.  Brain-friendly ways towards the life you want!

Posted on: February 13th, 2015 No Comments

How, When & Where: A Brain-Based Shift Strategy

Let’s assume you have a New Year’s Resolution you’re really excited about. You’re clear on what you want to change, and you eagerly want the anticipated results. You may have even made a commitment to yourself, or someone else for accountability, and you’re sure this is the year you’ll keep your resolution.

So, will you? Well, statistically speaking, no.

The good news is that each of us is more than a statistic– whatever the odds are, you have the ability to overcome them when we understand what keeps us locked in the status quo. (more…)

Posted on: December 20th, 2014 No Comments