Wild Thing! Tadasana! Lotus! Gomukhasana! These are not typical phrases you would hear at the headquarters of a global payments company. No, these are not titles for a new programming language, or pseudonyms for a clandestine project. These are yoga poses and cues, silly and/or sanskrit, which you can hear echoed through the office halls weekly as barefoot Braintreeps enjoy their practice.
Beginning in 2014, Braintree started offering in-office yoga weekly with local instructor Bradshaw Wish.
Similar programs are offered at Venmo’s New York office, and have become a favorite with employees. While most of us came on board at Braintree for a myriad of reasons, the company’s focus on healthy living -- while having some fun doing it -- helps us all to be our most productive and valuable selves inside and outside the workplace. I look forward to yoga, at Braintree in particular, for what can be summed up in three reasons:
Anyone who works in technology will tell you that our days zoom by at a breakneck pace, which most of us undoubtedly love. However, taking time to unwind after a day of client meetings and crunching numbers has become increasingly important in our industry’s always-on culture. Yoga has been a part of my life for over five years now, and what I first experienced -- on top of sore muscles-I-didn’t-know-existed -- was that my mind had never felt more unburdened and relieved. I adore yoga for this duality; it is a detox for the body and mind. Researchers and psychologists agree, and emphasize yoga and meditation’s positive effects on concentration, attention, anxiety, stress, and mood. It amazes me how I can be completely consumed by my inbox, and less than ten minutes later, alternating between Cow and Cat without a care in the world.
It’s fair to say that most at Braintree already enjoy their coworkers a great deal, although we do not always get to interact with members of different teams day-to-day. The vulnerability you experience while attempting a gravity-defying pose makes for fast friends. It is not unusual for someone to crack a joke during Happy Baby, Bradshaw to yell at passers-by to join us and “change their lives with movement,” or someone to faceplant while attempting a headstand -- all of which are equally hilarious.
Braintree is full of incredibly passionate people, and no matter what you are interested in -- be it golf, running, tennis, yoga, or crossfit -- odds are that someone is organizing an event, setting up a relevant Slack channel, or inviting you to their favorite studio. Many here are also avid, borderline obsessive step-counters and hold friendly competitions with apps like MatchUp. That trip to the Braintree bar for a SweetWater IPA did not happen if you are not wearing your FitBit.
Let it go
While you try not to sing the theme song from Frozen right now, at least not audibly, I’ll say it is rare that most of us are able to completely get out of our own heads and take some out-of-character chances. While I consider myself a generally risk-averse person, both Bradshaw and the yoga group have urged me to try some poses (with varying degrees of success) that I would have otherwise sat out. I’ve slowly been able to let the fears of embarrassment, failure, or even minor injury fall to the wayside, and it has permeated into other areas of my life and work as well. It is way more fun, freeing, and rewarding to dive in rather than hang on the sidelines, even if it does result in a bruised tailbone or ego.
For these reasons, and numerous others, it has been a thrill to work at a company that supports and encourages health and wellness in its employees’ lives. Anyone who has ever shopped at the Whole Foods salad bar or gasped at the price of a SoulCycle membership knows that it is expensive (not to mention time-consuming) to be healthy. Many companies will preach the benefits its employees staying fit -- mentally as well as physically -- but Braintree takes it a step further. Not only does Braintree offer weekly yoga, but the company supplies daily nutritious lunch options and countless apples, teas, yogurts, and more. We’ve all been pummeled with the recent adage that “sitting is the new smoking,” and we are lucky here to have stand-up desks and tread-desks in the office to relieve our rears. Even with a jam-packed schedule (and a few too many Double-Stuf Oreos), I can count on one day a week to break a sweat, laugh, and self-reflect without even having to leave the office.