“Everyone has their gifts and chal- lenges.” Those are the words of one of my favorite yoga teach- ers in reference to the physical
and mental aspects of the yoga practice.
As a student, the words ring true every
time I step on the mat, whether it’s the gift of
strength in a one-legged balancing pose or
the challenge of keeping my mind still for an
entire class. As a yoga instructor for the past 15
years, I see the gifts and challenges in a different light. Yoga is the great equalizer. Whether
a CEO or personal assistant, all students struggle with the discipline of focusing on themselves, stripped of today’s usual distractions.
According to John Kepner, executive director of the International Association of Yoga
Therapists, 10 percent of Americans practice
yoga, totaling more than 30 million people.
The benefits are far-reaching.
“When you stretch, people open up,”
Kepner said. “Lengthening the breathing
calms minds and helps people connect with
each other. It creates a whole new dimension
with your peers. It can bring group cohesion
to a meeting with a sense of community and a
sense of shared purpose.”
Kepner suggests beginning a meeting with
an “attunement,” focusing on the breath and
the purpose of the meeting.
“Attunement brings out creativity,” Kepner
said, as it gives time for attendees to orientate
their thoughts about their contributions to
serve the purpose of the meeting.
He noted that groups can also start a yoga
class that way.
More and more conferences have yoga
classes in the morning, according to Kepner.
A basic class with an average length of 30 to 50
minutes is ideal.
“Yoga helps everyone throughout the day.
They can concentrate better,” Kepner said.
Nicole DeAvilla, creator and author of The 2
Minute Yoga Solution and yoga instructor for
35 years, stresses that every 90 minutes, it’s important for attencees to have a break, incorporating two minutes of stretching at their seats.
“A two-minute yoga break between speech-es helps people sit still,” she said. “It helps
increase energy and focus. Also in the workplace, some meetings are very stressful. Yoga
lets participants pause for a moment and gives
people the chance to digest, so when they do
sit down again they are more focused.”
To meet the demand for business travelers
seeking yoga options, Hilton Worldwide’s
Meet with Purpose program includes yoga on
its menu package, with Yoga & Yogurt offered
throughout the 275 hotels participating in the
“Usually we offer morning yoga, such as
a gentle flow at 6 a.m.,” said Toni Zoblotsky,
assistant director of Hampton Brand Advertis-
ing at Hilton Hotels Corporation. “From there,
they have a parfait at breakfast with juices,
which is a way to build fitness into the confer-
ence agenda. Exercise in the morning sets the
trajectory of the day.”
Hilton’s Five Minutes to Fitness rooms,
currently available at Parc 55 San Francisco–a
Hilton Hotel and Hilton McLean Tysons Cor-
ner, with upcoming markets including Atlanta,
Austin, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and San
Diego, allow attendees to practice yoga in their
own rooms and also combine routines with
other fitness activities. The rooms are equipped
with 11 pieces of workout equipment and
accessories, and Hilton provides more than 200
workout/training videos, including yoga, in 10-,
20- and 30-minute increments.
Meet Well. Live Well. Be Well.
Hitting the mat brings clarity,
cohesion and creativity to events
BY MARLENE GOLDMAN