At Commonwealth Joe, it’s no secret that we are huge advocates of high-quality office perks. So when we learned about Coffee Yoga and founder Eli Walker’s mission to bring Coffee Yoga to office spaces, I knew I would need to learn more. So, I met up with Eli - over a cup of coffee, of course - to hear about her unique class. Read on to learn about Coffee Yoga, how it came to be, and Eli’s mission to find union between yoga, coffee, and work.
N: What inspired you to create Coffee Yoga
E: Coffee Yoga actually didn't start with coffee... it started with wine. About a year ago, I developed a class called Drunk Yoga®, which went viral, basically, immediately. I realized over time what people really love about it--what keeps them coming back for more--and it’s actually not about the wine! It's the communal aspect of coming together for the ritual of a drink with friends (and to meet new ones!) through the vehicle of a yoga class. The class gives seasoned practitioners a chance to interact with yoga differently and gives newbies a no-pressure environment in which they can try yoga. I have always really enjoyed bringing yoga to people who feel "outside" the yoga community, so I wanted my classes to be inclusive. Of course, not everyone drinks alcohol, so I thought, why don't I make this experience available to a different audience - like yogis who prefer coffee to wine - to give more people the chance to let their hair down and try my new spin on an ancient practice?
N: Why bring it to office spaces? Had you taught yoga in a corporate setting before?
E: I knew Coffee Yoga would be a huge hit in corporate/office settings, because, quite practically, most offices already have coffee for the staff and offer (or are looking to offer) yoga classes for their employees. I've been teaching traditional yoga and meditation in the corporate arena for many years and have seen this trend for corporate wellness grow, so I know there's a real need for it. New Yorkers, in particular, work long hours, often sitting at desks in high-pressure environments, and it's no secret that restful, intermittent breaks throughout the workday increase productivity. Right now, most people don’t do that - they just caffeinate and work. It’s no surprise that very few people make time (or feel empowered enough to make time) for these breaks. Personally, I've always loved being able to enter the corporate world and provide an hour of stress-relief in the form of mindful movement and breathing for office workers. That said, many employees are hesitant to throw on tight yoga clothes and attempt to touch their toes in front of their peers for fear of looking silly, so many refrain from even trying. I knew that by adding the social aspect of a coffee in-hand and turning up the music would make the class feel more like a party. More people would be open to trying it--and would benefit from it too! I found that this mix, in a judgment-free space, gave yogis a better experience in an uplifting environment. I love that my instructors and I have the ability and passion to provide this to students.
N: So tell me more about what Coffee Yoga is.
E: In the most basic terms, Coffee Yoga is a vinyasa-based yoga class integrated with the social ritual of sharing a cup of coffee with friends. If we want to get a little more "yogic" about it, Coffee Yoga lifts your spirits and celebrates unity through the community by bringing yogis and non-yogis together for a ritual of morning coffee on our yoga mats.
N: How does the class flow?
E: The class runs for 60-minutes, starting with a 10-minute “coffee break”. This allows the students to get situated with their cup-o’-joe and comfortable in a yoga-class setting with their peers. Your Coffee Yoga teacher will then bring everyone to their mats for a 40-minute, beginner-friendly creative yoga flow with coffee in-hand. The class is structured for optimal safety and fun, so new yogi’s, fear not! We then wrap up with a 10-minute “coffee-cool-down” to conclude class. A lil’ ROAST-orative yoga, if you will. (Ha, get it? ...Nailed it.)
N: Who supplies your coffee?
E: We use the coffee that is available at each office space. A lot of the time, the office provides their employees coffee from Commonwealth Joe!
N: Why are HR Coordinators and People’s Team leaders interested in bringing Coffee Yoga to their office?
E: I think there’s been a cultural shift that puts an emphasis on employees feeling valued at work, which is really important! Yoga has already been proven to have benefits for individuals within the workplace, but by making it social, we’re basically fulfilling two needs at once. Not only are people getting the restorative and relaxation component, but they’re also getting the team-building & social components. I’ve been a part of some painfully awkward icebreaker activities--that’s not what we’re about. We’re helping people build community and relax, by having them shed their stress at the door.
N: How do you imagine it evolving as you work with more office spaces?
E: Right now, Coffee Yoga is a successful special event in office settings, but I see the class evolving to become a staple in corporations as a regular weekly class for co-workers to come together for mid-morning coffee and some fun, mindful movement. Employers will recognize after experiencing first-hand that Coffee Yoga offers not only a custom, social wellness solution for yogis of all levels, but is also great for team-building and employee engagement. As this unique class grows in popularity, we look forward to continuing to foster edgy, alternative yoga classes for office spaces across the country!
Coffee Yoga is now open to offices of all sizes throughout the New York City area with plans to expand through the East Coast in 2019. To schedule a Coffee Yoga class for your office, email firstname.lastname@example.org.