de corporate yogi
May 31, 2022

How can you apply the wisdom of yoga to your work life?

By: Judith Manshanden

On International Yoga Day (June 21st) Judith Manshanden, the managing director of Delight, will present her new book ‘De Corporate Yogi” at our Prinseneiland location. Sign up for the special event here and read on to learn more!

Today, I want to write to you about yoga and work.

Most of us are familiar with those little incidents at work that make can make you feel frustrated, dissatisfied, or stressed. Think of a difficult colleague, a project that is not going well, or a heavy workload - all of these uncomfortable situations can get in the way of your happiness at work. Did you know that 70% of the workforce feels disengaged at their job? From my own experience, I believe that ‘off the mat’ yoga holds the answer to more vitality, engagement, and joy in your work environment. And so I decided to write a book about it. De Corporate Yogi will be released on the 21st of June, and you are welcome to celebrate this with me!

About a decade ago, I was experiencing these feelings of disengagement at work myself. I started my career in 2006 as a consultant at a successful consultancy firm in the Zuidas district of Amsterdam. A reasonably competitive environment, where I mainly worked with Excel sheets, flow charts, and PowerPoint presentations.My colleagues were nice, but because we were rewarded by the amount of billable hours we made, it sometimes felt like a rat race to get to the best projects. I felt like I always had to put my best foot forward, deliver high-quality work and, of course, be nice and fun to work with. Otherwise, another colleague would get that spot in the project team I wanted.

The connection I was looking for

One day, I was sitting in one of the glass cubicles in the luxurious office working on an Excel sheet when suddenly a strange feeling came over me. What was I doing? I was spending a large part of my time alone behind a screen and the rest of the time I was pretending to be something I wasn’t. This could not be the purpose of my life. I felt that I wasn’t just losing the connection with my surroundings, but most of all with myself. This moment was the beginning of a search for a different way of working, where connection was the starting point.

By chance, I soon came across a video about a special restaurant in the United States. The restaurant had a 'pay as you can' concept, where people could decide for themselves what they wanted to pay for a meal. If people weren't able to afford it, they were allowed to do volunteer work in exchange for a meal. The people who paid a little more contributed to a meal for someone else. I instantly felt goosebumps - it felt like something clicked. This was a business model all about trust, togetherness, and unity. This was the connection I was looking for! And at that moment I knew - this is what I am going to do. I decided to take a radical step and do something completely different. In 2013, I left the consultancy business and opened the 'GEEF Cafe': a restaurant where every guest could decide for themselves what they wanted to pay for a meal.

In the five years that followed, not only did I have to learn to work in a business model that was at odds with everything I knew, but I also had to completely reinvent myself. I had to learn to be compassionate, to make myself vulnerable, and to stand up for what I believed in. I had to deal with the discomfort of not having control and I had to learn to fully trust and surrender. The remarkable thing is that at that time I had no idea I was actually practicing yoga. At that time I only thought of yoga as the postures I performed on a mat once a week.

Practising Yoga off the mat

The GEEF Cafe did not last. This was not because the business model did not work: on the contrary. I have never seen anyone deliberately pay little. Of course, some people gave less than others, but I trust this was because they actually had less to spend. The GEEF Cafe closed due to a combination of circumstances: a floor manager with a hernia, a small baby at home, and perhaps also because it became increasingly clear to me what it was I really wanted to do. GEEF Café showed me that work can be the ultimate space to practice your own conscious growth.

And this is what we are doing at Delight every day. In our team, we don’t only teach yoga in our shalas, we also practice it behind the scenes. This way of working is so beautiful and it contains so many valuable lessons that I really want to share with you. And so 'De Corporate Yogi' was born.

What can I do with this book?

  • This book is not about the physical side of yoga, but about what I call 'yoga off the mat'. How can you apply yoga as an attitude to life and work and thereby cultivate more peace and balance?
  • Yoga philosophy contains ten precepts on how to do this, the Yamas and the Niyamas. I have translated these in a very practical and concrete way to apply to work situations that you may encounter in a corporate environment and that can be challenging for you. For example, saying what you really think, indicating your limits, and maintaining your work-life balance.
  • The Yamas and the Niyamas give you the tools to deal with your environment and with yourself in a healthy and balanced way.

Would you like to know more?

  • The book presentation is on the 21st of June at 16:00 at our studio at Prinseneiland 20G. Would you like to come? Please register here
  • Or pre-order the book through this link
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