Today I finished my last class with a much loved corporate. After almost 2.5 years I feel so much gratitude to the many students that attended these classes, but I also carry a deep sadness about its end. I keep asking myself ‘how can a corporate program with this much engagement and no cost to the business, other than the use of a space for 2-3 hours a week, be cancelled?’ It just makes no sense to me.
Over the time I have spent with this corporate I have seen well over 150 students – visiting their offices at least 2 times a week sometimes more. I worked with them through huge company changes, redundancies, out of work injuries, preparations for pregnancies and weddings and also through the general stresses of finding a good work/life balance.
The program was grassroots. The company didn’t pay a cent, but the students didn’t mind. It was something that was theirs, and they were proud of it. They turned up on their mat every Tuesday night and Thursday lunch always ready to work and always willing to let go. As far as corporate wellness programs go this one was an incredible success:
- Strong numbers (sometimes 60 a term)
- High engagement
- Huge and continued benefits to the employees both mentally and physically with each end of term survey revealing more impressive stats on increased ease and flexibility in the body, a lessening of stress, greater clarity and calm in the work place, more strength, even improved sleep.
4 weeks ago the students were told there would be no more yoga. Period. They gallantly battled to keep their program running. They negotiated later start times, tried to find alternative spaces, sent petitions to Head of HR and the CEO. Last week the program was cancelled for reasons of potential liability in the case of an injury – at this point the students offered to sign and indemnity form, but sadly, nothing, changed the outcome.
This brings us today. When I had to say good-bye to my dedicated students. Tears in my eyes and heaviness in my heart about the misunderstandings that some corporates still have about wellness programs such as yoga. More bluntly, they should be seen less like an add on, and more like and indispensable necessity that allows employees opportunities to find quietness – physical and mental ease – in an increasingly chaotic world, both inside of the work place and outside of it.
I know this was not an act of malice, but it was a decision made without full understanding of the benefits of yoga and mindfulness. Our industry clearly has much more work to do. Which is why I now make it one of my life missions to ensure that every single company in Australia is equipped with the evidenced based research, the facts and figures of how these wellness programs benefit not only their employees, but the entire business, right down to the bottom line. After that – the decision is in their capable and knowledgable hands.
To my tremendously loyal students – your enthusiasm and discipline is what gives me the greatest of hope. Keep practicing. I will see you soon.