Yoga is so big today that there have been whole university degrees developed around it at progressive schools in the US, so it seems we’re finally catching on to all the ancient education the mind-body discipline has to offer.
Here in Abu Dhabi, teachers at the American Community School (ACS) in Khalidiyah are getting a yogic education of their own, too, thanks to local Yogini Neli Merris, who is trying to encourage yoga in the workplace, whether for you that is a school or office.
In general, corporate wellness should be an essential part of any company, whether that means a weekly yoga class on company grounds or organising an annual sports day to encourage camaraderie and fun and fitness. Seeing as it is becoming more and more the case that employees work longer shifts across the UAE, it certainly helps that they enjoy their work as well as their co-workers.
Making the workplace a friendlier, healthier place by offering on-site amenities such as yoga can drastically lower employees’ stress levels and increase mental clarity, which can then improve their performance and productivity, as well as reduce their number of sick days. It’s a win-win situation for both boss and team.
Neli, with her brand Anaadi Yoga, wants to draw more attention to that; to connect with employers and employees across the city to raise awareness of how well a little yoga after work goes hand in hand with a much improved work day for everyone. And, so far with ACS, she has gathered some impressive results.
“Teaching is all-consuming – we need to be present for each student all day,” says ACS teacher Diane Bahrenburg. “We suffer from what I call ‘compassion fatigue’. Yoga helps me fill my cup back up, so to speak.”
“Practising yoga with Neli has provided me with the tools to centre myself, to take care of myself, to pay attention to my breath and to notice where I hold stress. Neli creates a peaceful space for us to recharge.”
Fellow teacher Katie Shaler adds: “What I really love about Neli’s class is that we stretch every part of ourselves – mind, body, spirit – and that helps me feel renewed and more focused in my day-to-day activities.”
“I have become more mindful of my breathing throughout the day. If I find myself getting tense or feeling stressed, I begin to take deep yogic breaths. I’m also finding myself being able to look at the full picture of a situation, rather than just that moment.”
We all know too well how certain days of the work week too can make you feel particularly down in the dumps – such as the first day of the week and the slump-inducing hump day. Another teacher, Anne Russell, believes Neli is helping her combat that feeling, too, with her twice-weekly visits.
She said: “Her yoga class makes Sundays and Tuesdays so much easier to think about because I know I will finish the work day feeling less beat-up. Calm, peaceful and gentle are just not part of the daily pace of life as a teacher.”
And of course one massive benefit of this wonderful idea is its convenience – the yoga comes to you, right at work, and you needn’t worry about whether or not you’re going to make it to the studio or gym later after you’ve gone home.
In fact, among Neli’s other corporate wellness plans are quick-fix options like ‘Desk Yoga’, where, instead of hitting the floor for a lengthy session, employees can soak up some goodness right at their stations in their suits and skirts. It includes easy-to-do seated postures, some breathing, meditation and visualisation exercises.
She is also a seasoned Raw Food Coach and can tailor packages to include easy raw food preparations so that healthy snacks become a regular part of the office environment. Brain food.
“I love that Neli is able to come to ACS and I find her class the one activity I look forward to the mostin my week,” says Jennifer Brooks. “I have a very busy schedule (as we all do) and can only commit to yoga once per week. Here I don’t have to race to a gym to find a space and work out with strangers.
“Being able to work out with colleagues gives us a sense of togetherness that we may not experience during the work week. We are a large campus and not always able to see one another. Attending yoga classes together strengthens our collegiality.”
“All of our bodies are different. Our levels of fitness vary but thanks to Neli’s calm voice and encouraging instruction, we all receive the same benefits from her class. I am grateful Neli has entered our lives to share her passion with us. She is definitely making a positive impact on our wellbeing.”
For more information about Neli and Anaadi Yoga’s corporate wellness solutions, as well as regular private and public yoga offerings across Abu Dhabi, visit www.anaadiyoga.com or contact her on 056 602 0690, or email [email protected]