March 28, 2011

Corporate America Yogi: The Crisis of a Double Agent. ~ Jasmine Gill

Every morning when I first get out of bed, I practice to wake up my sleepy body and meditate to calm my mind, before I rush to put on my business casual attire and run out the door.

I work as a manager for one of the largest corporations in the world. The world, not just the United States. My daily commute takes me to a corporate campus that also serves as the workplace for a couple thousand other employees. Most of my days are spent in a gray cube, but at least I have a window.

Think Office Space.

I leave work every day promptly to go to class at my favorite yoga studio. Weekend mornings usually start with practice, and if I’m lucky enough to go to a workshop, the day is spent practicing as well. You get the point on how I like to spend my “free” time.

I have physically practiced yoga since freshman year of college; however have only begun to open my mind to the entire world of yoga (i.e. not just physical practice) over the past two years. This time period coincided with the decision to drop out of law school. I still remember distinctly thinking before going into law school “what’s the worst that could happen? If I don’t like it I’ll drop out and see if I can teach yoga.” Little bit of real life foreshadowing for you.

2010 was a year of transformation for me. I finally got the courage to sign up for a 200hr teacher training program with Micheline Berry. Over the course of 9 months, I went from “maybe I will teach yoga but I’m just here to learn for the sake of learning” to “I cannot see my life taking any other course but becoming a yoga teacher.”

Photo: Kerala Tourism

While I am still learning what being a yoga teacher even really means (and still wrapping up the 200 hr teacher training final exam), it has led to my very first real identity crisis. How can I, someone who believes that corporate America is at its core the representation of a society that I believe needs to change in this world, still be a slave to the system?

My corporate job paid for my teacher training, classes, yoga mat, clothes, countless books, etc. Is this wrong??

This double agent status – corporate drone by day and yogini all other hours – begs for further explanation. How did I even get here in the first place? I am well aware. I took my current job with the intention of never staying. I took this job already as a means to an end, in my mind perpetually in a state of “I’ll find something better soon,” pacified by the fact that I at least got to do yoga every day. I got sucked into the corporate vortex of promotions and starting to make a decent salary necessary for my cute little car (along with its payment), a nice little apartment near the water and oh yes, yoga classes.

I walked right into the cage, key in hand and put a pretty little lock on it.

At some point, anyone who has practiced yoga knows it seeps into every facet of your life, it is more than perfecting asanas (i.e. yoga poses). On good days at work, I take every interaction in my corporate gray world and incorporate my practice of yoga, attempting to paint color into both my work life as well as lives of my co-workers. I use the workplace as an opportunity to be patient, empathetic and kind as I go about my workday. Sometimes I do vrksasana (tree pose) in the bathroom or read   Krishnamurti on a bench outside.

On bad days I spend most of the day realizing how I do not solidly believe my job has any real purpose and feel like a fraud in slacks, fighting every urge to not just walk out regardless of the consequences.

Most of the time I oscillate between these two states, trying to still be effective in my job and motivate co-workers while I am saying in my head “I don’t really believe in this.”Is it wrong to continue to use this job as a means to an end?

I do not know. What I do know is that I am incredibly fortunate. I realized I am not living a fully integrated authentic life. I am lucky enough to recognize the key to this little cage is still in my hand.

I’ve slowly started making little changes to unlock this cage I’ve placed myself in but have not completely broken out. In the meantime, I’ll just have to continue sequencing classes in my head when I get really bored in yet another meeting  and staring out the window from this gray (sometimes colorful) cubeland.


Jasmine has been practicing yoga for about 8 years, although only “seriously” practicing for the past two years. She attended teacher training for 200 hour Prana Flow Certification in 2010 and recognizes that the teacher training was just the beginning of a lifelong of learning and practicing. She currently lives in Tampa, FL however dreams of living in Boulder, Colorado one day.
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