Before I became a vegan coach and educator, I was teaching yoga in the workplace. I would go into local businesses and teach the employees yoga during their lunch break or after work. Classes would be held in a conference room or at a rented location near the office.
Yoga @ Your Desk workshops were also offered. Companies such as IBM, Dutchess County Department of Health, Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies were among the organizations participating. Countless studies substantiate the benefits of yoga in the workplace, and forward-thinking companies and their employees take advantage of this benefit.
My personal yoga practice and all my years of teaching have enabled me to finally align my values of compassion and mercy with the conduct of my everyday life. It has taught me not to be oblivious to the suffering of others. That is the kind of alignment yoga is intended to teach. Once opened up to the deeper teachings of yoga, it was an easy decision to begin living life without harming others — and in the process, I became healthier and happier myself. Once the decision was made to live a vegan life, the transition and the progression was very natural and easier than one might imagine.
I was a seeker who chose yoga as an avenue to find calm and clarity amid the chaos. Yoga is not a workout — it is a work-in. And one of the most important tenets of yoga isAhimsa, which means “not harming any living being.” If we truly practice yoga in the tradition it was intended, we find that eating and using animals goes against all of the principles followed in order to live a fulfilling and enlightened life. I needed to bear witness to the suffering we impart on gentle animals when we use them for food and clothing, and our entertainment and lab experiments. At a young age, we become disconnected from our innate compassion.
As children, we are purposely not told where our food and clothing come from and what must happen to the animals before they arrive on our dinner plates or in our closets. This moral disconnection is embedded in our perceptions as we arrive into adulthood, and too few of us awaken to reconnect.
“Through the practice of yoga and veganism, we can realize that we were meant to live in harmony with all the other animals and all of life. We come to know that our physical bodies function better without having to instill fear into others and to kill them, and that there is no nutrient that we need that we can’t get directly from plant sources or from sunlight. We come to recognize that our old bodies can be transformed and become light and whole — holy bodies, used as vehicles to bring peace.”
— Sharon Gannon, co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga Method
Perhaps it was just a matter of time before studies would substantiate the benefits for employees who were vegan, too. In the Washington Business Journal, the headline reads: “Going vegan could improve mood, productivity of workers at your company, study shows.” Yes, a four-month study was published in the American Journal of Health Promotion and found that employees were transformed physically and mentally after participating in the study promoting a vegan diet.
Weight loss, better mood
Over 100 employees of Geico, at five of its locations, participated to study the impact a vegan diet would have on health, mood and productivity. The results were substantial. “Participants dropped an average of 10 pounds and lowered their cholesterol by 13 points. They also reported increases in overall productivity and saw improvements in anxiety, depression, fatigue and general health compared with workers at five other Geico locations in the study,” according to the study.
The study was accompanied by some staggering statistics, which include the fact that “Obesity affects 35 percent of U.S. adults, resulting in annual health care costs that are $1,429 higher per person than those of a normal weight. Lost productivity costs for obesity are $73 billion each year. Depression also has a major impact, affecting 9.5 percent of the adult population, accounting for $83 billion in lost productivity each year.” To read more about the study, visit: http://www.pcrm.org/media/news/plant-based-diet-geico-study.
This made me think. If I could bring yoga into the workplace effectively, why not bring information about eating and veganism into the workplace as well, demonstrating how a transition to a whole food, plant-based diet could improve employee health, wellness and productivity. My presentation, “How Veganism Heals,” does just that.
Most employees don’t provide a company cafeteria, and learning new ways to eat, substituting whole foods for animal products, would be the next logical step. It is an easy learning curve that can change the trajectory of an entire life — in the workplace and in our personal lives as well. It can also improve a business’ “bottom line.”
There is an abundance of information revealing the ways that transitioning to a vegan life improves health, productivity, the environment and our humanity.
We spend an enormous amount of our time in the workplace. Let’s make it count in ways that benefit ourselves, the company we work for, our community and our planet. Wishing you peace and productivity. Namaste.
Sande Nosonowitz is a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator as well as a certified yoga and meditation teacher. Contact her at email@example.com; visit www.sundarajewel.com