Yoga as a Learning & Development tool

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Written by Lisa Paredes, Global Ambassador and MBA student, San Francisco Campus Class of 2017.

“Since the focus of L&D is to facilitate change, it’s your role to make sure employees understand how to embrace it. You’re not just implementing a new learning tool or delivering a course. You also need to be able to help employees manage the mental process of understanding change. – Todd Dewett

The business world is changing. Millennials in the workplace are looking for something more than just making money. They are looking for a purpose and employers must find a way to keep this talent motivated and develop them to their full potential. Learning & Development is one of the many areas where HR is innovating this year. Sending employees to training and coaching workshops occasionally is no longer enough, and is not creating an impact on the young employees. Employers are looking for new ways to approach this in the workplace. To be able to achieve an effective result, businessmen and businesswomen will have to think outside the box. Satisfying the need of self-development and developing talent will be hard but, in my opinion, there are innovative ways to accomplish it.

“The philosophy behind yoga is based on self-development and can serve as a guideline for people development in the workplace.”

Yoga may not seem the obvious choice, but the philosophy behind yoga is based on self-development and can serve as a guideline for people development in the workplace. There are multiple ways to see a yoga practice. Some people see it as a physical exercise, others see it as a spiritual practice and some others, like me, came across yoga in a moment of needing clarity.

Since I began my yoga practice, I’ve been looking for a way to mix the business world with the yoga world. It hasn’t been easy since most people when thinking about business in the yoga world automatically think about teaching or opening studios. However, I have experienced yoga as a self-discovery path and an empowering practice that in my opinion could be used as a Learning & Development tool to keep employees engaged.

Yoga as a self-awareness practice
The style of yoga that I practice is called Rocket Yoga. On the outside people may think it looks like just fun, all fancy poses and circus-like people, but what you find in this yoga style is a search for your inner teacher. Rocket yoga may challenge you physically but in every practice the sequence lets you go inwards. In each pose, the teacher doesn’t tell you what you should do but instead guides you to get to know your body and listen to what it needs and can do in each moment of the practice. This style encourages you to have a voice, to know what you as an individual want to do. The Rocket taught me how to find the limit of my comfort zone and encourages me to challenge myself to always go even further, not only in my yoga practice but in my daily life.

“Having a constant practice of self-reflection helps us be aware of patterns and to create new ones.”

Yoga as a self-reflection practice
Since I started practicing Rocket yoga my teacher always encouraged me to practice self-reflection. During our teacher training, we started a habit of journaling after each practice to reflect on the experience we had and what we observe about ourselves. This can also be applied to your professional and personal life. I think doing this after a day of work is a great practice to create mindfulness and self-reflection. Having a constant practice of self-reflection helps us be aware of patterns and to create new ones. One of my favorite examples of this is an aspect of Lululemon’s culture, the habit of goal setting. Every employee from top to bottom in the company must define a list of goals and steps to achieve them. The difference from other existing programs I’ve seen is that employees come back frequently to these goals and are encouraged and coached by peers to achieve them.

Yoga as a tool for work/life balance
It’s not a secret anymore that stress in the workplace doesn’t do any good to employees, but how do we manage that stress? Having yoga classes within companies is now a trend but most of the time it’s just something that looks good in a company description but doesn’t really create value. Bringing yoga to the companies is a good first step, but for it to become an important asset it must be more than a simple benefit. As any L&D program, for a yoga program to have the results mentioned above it must consist also of constant check-ins and follow-ups.

The Yoga Club in action at the Hut San Francisco campus.

These are some of the reasons why I decided to open the Yoga Club at Hult. Our club members are people that had never or barely practiced yoga before but were interested in the benefits they’d heard yoga could give them. The club is not made for six times a week yogis but instead provides a safe space and support for people interested in the benefits of yoga to explore them.

My teacher always encouraged me to think about three questions: What do you want? Where do you want to live? Who do you want to be when you grow up? These questions may not seem yoga-related but they are. Yoga can be whatever you want it to be, but if you choose it to be a learning and development tool it will give you insights about your mind and life that you had never noticed, and it will empower you to always keep changing and growing.


Lisa Paredes is a Hult MBA student from Guatemala. She was the CEO of a wine distribution company before she left to pursue her post-graduate degree in San Francisco. Her experience as a business woman and yoga teacher led her to her biggest passion—working with people.

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