After a brief flirtation with yoga in college (I mostly stuck with child’s pose and joked with my friends in the corner of the studio), I finally went to another yoga class this weekend. My yoga-teaching older sister bought me a few classes at a local studio as a birthday present. “Get your namaste on!” she wrote. It was very sweet.
It was also very sweaty. Hot yoga takes a lot out of you. A 150-degree room (all right, fine, I’m definitely exaggerating), and a limited amount of space to fit all these mats and people. I learned a few things: 1) put a bath towel on your mat, and your hands won’t slip on the mat when you’re trying to do downward facing dog; 2) child’s pose is still my best friend; and 3) it’s a lovely way to relax. And simple.
I’m not quite sure when the yoga trend started in the United States, but it’s pretty stellar that so many people are interested in working on things like meditation, focus, balance and strength. As an amateur, I personally found value as a stress reliever. I’ve also read a lot in the past few months about the impact stress has on the workplace and the rise of corporate wellness programs to manage that stress.
The other day I spoke with Lyndsey Morash, founder of Chasing Nirvana Yoga in Boston. Her story is a good example of marrying the corporate and the wellness worlds. Back in 2012, she was working at a long-hour, high-stress job in Boston. Meanwhile, she also took classes to become a certified yoga instructor.
In 2014, she started Chasing Nirvana, a mobile yoga studio that brings wellness to corporate offices, along with meditation and health coaching. It has a staff of instructors who have been properly trained, certified and insured so that an organization doesn’t have to do the background work themselves.
Her most recent venture is a product of Chasing Nirvana: MOGI, a yoga mat pannier that attaches to a bike. She found that — biking being her main mode of transportation to and from work, class and yoga — finding the right bag to carry her yoga mat was impossible. The bag will probably appeal to people who like travel, biking and yoga — especially commuters, said Morash, and its primary market will be people living in big cities like Boston.
After raising money on Kickstarter, Morash is now in the research phase with the bag. She’s getting feedback from people who bike and do yoga to finalize the design. She expects it’ll hit the market early next year.
Morash, in both of her ventures, is a good example of somebody who saw an opportunity in the growing wellness space and went with it. She saw a market and an opening in that market to make a dent. She and her team work with interested companies in the limited space they have to host classes, and they also are willing to get creative with pricing options. For example, the company might pay for the whole class, or the interested employees share the cost, or the employer and employees share the cost.
“Larger companies have the ability or the funds to put in a gym or use a management company to manage these things,” said Morash. “[But] Chasing Nirvana is there for the company that wants to give their employees wellness options but doesn’t have the funds to install a full-on gym.”
Going back to my sister briefly: She works full-time plus overtime many weeks and also teaches yoga classes throughout the week. On a recent phone call, she brought up a certain frustration I’m sure a lot of people are familiar with: being perceived as lazy for wanting time to take care of yourself.
Yoga isn’t everyone’s idea of “taking care of yourself,” obviously, but it’s an option. And taking the time to de-stress is important in a time when stress and burnout are increasing. Whatever the reason for that stress — money, personal problems, health issues, whatever — everyone deserves some time to decompress and mentally prepare themselves for whatever’s next.