10 years ago Benjamin Wilkinson encountered yoga, and that changed his life. Now, he’s a certified yoga teacher working to help change the lives of others through yoga and mindfulness in the form of corporate wellness programs, where he helps employers bring wellness practices to their employees. Eugene Mindworks is pleased to have Benjamin as a member and to help support his goals of bringing wellness into the workday.
Wilkinson’s work has three levels. Stop Drop & Yoga creates community yoga events. At his Springfield studio, Common Bond Wellness & Yoga, Wilkinson and his business partner offer a variety of classes for all personal yoga levels. He also takes yoga beyond the studio to do on-site corporate yoga classes, including Wednesdays at noon, right in the Eugene Mindworks common room.
“The essence of Stop Drop & Yoga is, where can we put down the mat and do this?” Wilkinson says. “The happenstance of my company is the idea that there are people out there who want yoga who are not being served because they can’t come to the studio. And I said, ‘OK, how do we take yoga outside of the studio?’”
Wilkinson’s own yoga journey began when he was asked by a pretty girl with an English accent to attend her yoga class. Little did Wilkinson know that she taught a hot yoga class (where the temperature in the studio is approaching 110 degrees)!
“I got my butt kicked and loved it,” he recalls. “I had been into fitness as an athlete with a cycling and hockey perspective. Yoga showed me I could feel good with fitness and I was actually a lot less stressed.”
The first place Wilkinson taught outside the studio–and he’s still teaching there–was in the Lane County Jail. “I brought breathing techniques to help reduce stress and calm and control your thoughts into a non-traditional space,” he says. “They were so responsive and appreciative of the practice itself. It teaches them they can do something for themselves that makes them feel better.”
Wilkinson also teaches chair yoga classes at Churchill Estates, a retirement community in Eugene. “There are a myriad of studies demonstrating that yoga, and specifically meditation, for aging populations helps reduce the risk or onset of Alzheimer’s,” Wilkinson says. “And those people report happier, healthier lives because yoga and mindfulness also reduces the risk of recurrence of depression and helps mitigate things like seasonal affective disorder.”
Eugene Mindworks is actively promoting a healthy workplace, and when Wilkinson rolls out the mats on Wednesdays during the noon lunch hour, several members from offices around the building come join in. It’s a refreshing physical break from the routine work that has been shown to have real benefits.
About a year ago, Wilkinson began looking for places to work, where he could be around other people with a shared energy. “I looked at other coworking spaces but this one had the feeling of being more interactive or not just tech-oriented,” he explains. “It was a diverse community of small businesses that brought different perspectives to the table as opposed to just being a place where you had your own desk.”
After becoming a member, Wilkinson launched the corporate wellness arm of Stop Drop & Yoga, which he calls Cascadia Wellness Solutions. With this venture, Wilkinson provides mindfulness training, yoga, nutrition and other wellness practices to corporate Clients.
“I went from renting a desk at Eugene Mindworks to providing yoga for five different clients in three months,” he says. “The way I see it, I am your on-site, on-staff yoga-wellness consultant and anyone here at Mindworks can reach out and ask questions about a wellness practice or mindfulness-based instruction.”
Numerous studies have shown the benefits of yoga on the body, from reducing stress to maintaining bone and muscle strength and balance as people age. In the workplace, attentional training through mindfulness leads to increased focus and productivity and reported happiness.
Eugene Mindworks is supporting a healthy workplace in other ways as well. Members have access to ergonomic chairs and sit-stand desks in the common work area. Numerous plants contribute to a “green” vibe and provide fresh air. In the kitchen, bulk tea and locally roasted coffee is always available. On “Wellness Wednesdays,” members can sign up for massages and other body treatments with our in-house massage therapist. One member brings in fresh eggs from her chickens to sell to other members each week. Another member offers whole food vitamins and maintains the Tower Garden, which uses clean hydroponics to grow salad greens and herbs that are free for the picking for lunchtime salads.
In August during International Coworking Week, Wilkinson and Eugene Mindworks are planning to collaborate on a Wellness Fair, to further share the benefits of wellness in the workplace. Learn more about Benjamin Wilkinson’s Stop Drop & Yoga and Cascadia Wellness Solutions programs at CascadiaCorporateWellness.com.