Two years ago, Alley Ramon began teaching a free weekly yoga class for employees here in Perkins+Will’s San Francisco office. I started working here a few months after the classes started, but—I’m ashamed to admit this—I went almost a year without taking a single one. Each morning, I’d sit down, put on my work-blinders, and fall into a pattern somewhere between a groove and a rut. (Plus somehow I always conveniently forgot to bring shorts or a mat.)

I’m happy to report that I’ve broken free of my chair-based mentality—weekly yoga has been a highlight of the past six months for me.

The hour-long sessions are held at noon on Thursdays, in a conference room with a grand view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Class attendance is usually around  five or six people. After changing into comfortable clothes in our locker room, we simply roll away chairs and tables and voila—our very own yoga studio. I return to my desk feeling, well, like I just stepped out of a yoga class, and my productivity only benefits from the break. When I see fellow yogis in the hallway later, we nod and smile in recognition of that post-class glow.

As a former dancer turned office-type, I wanted to learn what it’s like to teach yoga in a corporate setting. Speaking by phone last month, she told me that she’s been teaching yoga for ten years and came to the Bay Area in 2011 to pursue a master’s in clinical psychology. Her transition to corporate wellness coincided with the realization that teaching yoga in non-traditional settings could have a big impact on how people feel at work. Just as therapy doesn’t need a couch to deliver benefits, Ramon says, building a strong yoga practice doesn’t require a formal studio setting.

Continue reading on