Key Learnings From This Episode
- How did Maryam get into ‘office’ yoga and what is it? It was a very organic approach. She was working as a Wellness Coordinator at UC Berkeley. She left that position, and while in transition, she was trying to figure out what her next ‘real’ job was going to be. She began teaching yoga on behalf of a company, working with them for two years. In thinking about what she was passionate about doing, she realized she enjoyed seeing the same people on a regular basis and surveyed participants to see if they were interested in increasing their number of yoga sessions.
Another company signed on, and the business evolved from there. Her company was borne out necessity and interest from participants. She decided to keep the name simple and launched as Office Yoga™. Her client base expanded to six companies. That’s when she knew she was doing something right.
- What are the ‘pain points’ or reasons that organizations reach out to Office Yoga™? It is usually a combination of things. The person who wants to introduce this to their company is usually someone who is health-oriented or wants to offer something to their employees. Sometimes they know about and really love yoga and are familiar with the benefits, especially when it comes to meditation, movement, and breath work. Yoga is something they can implement that has many benefits.
- Advice to those who might initially be intimidated by yoga. She recommends keeping your expectations really low. Maryam pulls apart the poses to make them accessible to everyone. If you are beginner – which most are when joining Office Yoga™ – it is important to keep it simple. She also works with physical therapists to break down the movements and analyze how the shoulders and hips work and what poses are most beneficial for them. Classes are typically 30 minutes and one-hour maximum. She tries to ensure people get the most benefit in a short amount of time. Office Yoga™ is designed for people who have not done yoga before. If people have done yoga before, she will also introduce them to more advanced moves and poses. What is most important is to have fun.
- What is the usual physical complaint or ‘sore point’ Maryam hears from employees who are sitting in an office all day? There are five areas she addresses the most: neck, wrist, shoulders, low back, and hips. All classes begin by asking for requests, checking in with participants to see how they are feeling and if there is anything in particular that is bothering them on that day.
- On the YouTube video of the podcast (shown above), Maryam demonstrates a few simple poses that can be done at your desk.
- What health benefits and success stories has Maryam heard from clients? Most of the feedback focuses on people’s personal lives – they feel more content, happier, more relaxed, and calm – which benefits their professional lives as well. When they get back to their desks, they feel they are more efficient, they have a little more clarity and are able to be more productive. Maryam worked with a participant who was a new mom with no time to go to a gym. She started with Office Yoga™ for 3-4 month and then added some external workouts. She lost 35 pounds over one year.
- Office Yoga™ works with almost all industries and companies with employees sitting behind desks. These employees are going to feel the same deterioration of the body as anyone else, no matter the industry or the job someone has. They work with any organization who reaches out, and their clients have included large companies, non-profits, sports teams, and start-ups.
- Maryam offers the following advice to aspiring HR Leaders on the benefits of yoga for personal and employee well-being. It is important to not underestimate the value of a healthy body and a healthy mind. Take care of your employees – it makes a big difference. When people are happy at work, it translates into successful business. When managers and HR managers are invested in the company and in their employees, everything grows from there.
To Follow Maryam Sharifzadeh /Office Yoga™
- OfficeYoga™ is the #1 corporate yoga company in the United States, serving companies all across the nation. Maryam has since worked with physical therapists and established yoga teachers to develop an Office Yoga Teacher Training program that standardizes the practice of office yoga. Her goal is to educate yoga teachers and serve businesses all across the country.
- Office Yoga on Facebook
- Office Yoga on Instagram