August 6, 2013

Yogi Goes Corporate: A Social Experiment of Ego & Manifestation. ~ Alexandria Prain

Sometimes our paths lead us to places we’d never dreamed we’d be; that might mean paradise for some, for others, not exactly.

Wearing suit pants, I sat sunken in a wooden desk, terrified, as my eyes wandered the walls of the stark windowless theater. Counting each moment of nine hours, I tried my best to make sense of the buzzing corporate rules surrounding me. I watched and judged them, considering their actions in harmonious sink with those engaged in the running of the bulls in Pamploma—blankly, I dismissed them and their fancy neckties and suits. Sales quotas, devices, assets, commissions—none of these words were familiar.

Fully present, fully responsible and utterly devastated.

Asana—a yogic posture, the assumption of an attitude of surrender, often recognized by the body’s immediate response to run.

If someone told me weeks before that I would willingly choose to jump ship and join the corporate world after my years of “fighting for a cause” in the non-profit sector, I’d have mentally slapped them and questioned their intelligence. A cookie-cutter, 8-5 career path is something I have denied since my girlhood when I dreamt of romantic, free, creative ventures across the globe.

Hello, ego and generation Y.

When I refer to this judgmental and small minded idea of this career path, I always envision Ron Livingston’s infamous role in “Office Space,” confined to a cubicle and with a 40 hour “case of the Mondays.” I do recognize that it is this true love of competition and structure that has allowed capitalism to bring the so called “American Dream” into reality for many. Who doesn’t strive for success and comfort—perhaps a life filled with a home in the suburbs and a puppy to be followed by babies, PTA meetings, dining at local chains and taking wonderfully relaxing vacations to the overdeveloped and outlandish mega-all-inclusive resorts lining the coasts of Mexico?

There is nothing wrong with this life—in fact, although sheepish to admit, I am lucky enough to have grown up this way.

I just didn’t envision it for my future adult life. I am innately afraid of leading a “common life.”

I am a yoga instructor, a traveler, an idealist, a writer, a human rights advocate, a student, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a lover—and in this very moment, the most uncomfortable person sitting in this building, a misplaced blinking red light in a grey grid of cubes. The blood drains from my face. My stomach knots. I cannot breathe.


My very own words that I speak to my students begin to spin in my head, “Inhale for six, exhale for six. Use this moment of anxiety as an opportunity to find grace and fluidity between your breath and body.”

Who am I? Who is this young woman sitting so isolated in this cold plastic chair? I have never even taken a single business class. I begin Deepak Chopra‘s “Soul Questions” game. The game is intended to identify the thousand layers—the myths—that we use to self-identify so we can eventually peel away enough of the garbage to land at our true self. I rattled through this self-identifying list, these ego-driven ideas I created for myself, and suddenly I landed at a screeching halt.

Out of nowhere came the word stagnate.

StagnateFoulness, as one emanating from a standing pool of water. A failure to develop, progress or advance. The condition of having ceased to run or flow.

I asked myself again, “who are you?”

My mind responded, “stagnant.”

“And oh, by the way, a bit scared and impatient.”

My true self was ready to talk to my ego.

As if the power points about office technology, printers and equipment weren’t already enough—now my mind decided to muddle itself with a moment of mental clarity.

I manifested this exact feeling of discomfort.

I yearned, meditated and shouted to the universe  for this sales job—a job that not only gave me the financial stability to return to my passion of traveling the world (what I held to be the true driving force of this whole experiment into the for-profit world), but also a position that challenged me to grow. My snarky judgments and false assumptions of others babbled in the background.

I felt ungrounded, arrogant and ungrateful—without the slightest clue, my ego riddled with such discomfort and shame of where I had landed professionally. I reminded myself that my previous job in the non-profit sector left me apathetic and passionless—and so too, stagnant. I hadn’t even recognized my ego wrapping itself around my soul.

This sales job is a gift—not only to financially allow me to run far into the world but more importantly, to teach me—to teach me that a job, the number of days you physically practice yoga, whether or not you watch TV, eat meat or not, want a life in the suburbs with an 8-5 corporate job or not, have nothing to do with the heart and soul of the individuals standing in front of each one of us every day.

We are all human, we all have the same basic needs of food, water, shelter and to be touched with love.

We all have a sacredness and something we are faithful to; we simply have different means of manifesting those things into our lives.

As a yoga instructor, I often tell my students that change within our postures doesn’t begin until we want to get out of it. I’m not sure I wholeheartedly understood the importance and meaning of this recognition until this wonderfully uncomfortable opportunity of challenge came upon me off my mat.

The purpose of yoga is to teach us how to move freely without reaction into each and every moment through our body, breath and spirit. It is to show and allow us to practice letting go of our ego, so when life’s games of growth come upon us, we are able to flow with the current of universe, fully aware that we will land exactly where we manifest.


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Assistant Ed.: Stephanie Sefton/Ed: Sara Crolick

{photo: via Gianni Cumbo}

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