By Jola Chudy
Working out from home is the new going to the gym, but for cabin-fevered leaders, the impetus to remain clearheaded and focused has never been greater. Stefania Brunori is a wellness entrepreneur and certified yoga instructor who is launching Yoga CEO online, a program geared specifically for leaders that can be accessed remotely
Yoga CEO is the latest evolution of my first start-up, Yoginfinity. The original idea was to make yoga and meditation more accessible to the whole population.
But in recent years I realised that I could have an impact on a bigger scale, focusing on yoga and meditation for leaders, due the continued uncertainty and stress levels that they experience in continued changing environments.
When leaders manage their stress exceptionally, they have a positive impact on their teams.
I started teaching private yoga classes in 2014, during a transition period after my last corporate job at Nokia, as a way to share my knowledge with others while keeping myself active physically and mentally while looking for a job.
I then decided to work simultaneously in building my first yoga start-up, which I launched in 2016. It has been evolving since then, adapting to market changes and is currently promoted under the current concept of ‘Yoga CEO’.
Having worked as senior marketer and entrepreneur for more than 15 years, I know the challenges of working under enormous pressure and having high levels of uncertainty.
At the same time you still need to be productive, focused on motivating others and creative in finding solutions to new problems.
I have experienced the same difficulties in my professional career, so alongside being a certified yoga instructor I am able to offer practical applications on how yoga can help those in leadership positions.
To date, I have taught more than 6,000 hours, to all kinds of different people from all kinds of backgrounds.
My offering includes flexibility in times, which is something that leaders need most of the time. Busy leaders can jump into a yoga class, anytime, from any part of the world.
The virtual session gives you the comfort and privacy of doing it from your own office, home or hotel room. Imagine having a yoga/meditation corner at your office, and just tuning in for a 30 minutes session, anytime you need it.
You don’t even need to dress up, and meditation classes can be done sitting in a chair, in normal clothes. Creating a ‘calm’ space that you can access whenever you are stressed gives you safety, and that can’t be achieved in a normal studio, where you have to drive in and join a class at a specific time and with more people.
That does not work for leaders, who need more flexibility due to the nature of their work. Also, if you create such space at your home or office, this allows you to start building up a mental mind-set connected to the practice, as you’ll be able to access that calmed estate of mind just by being in that surrounding, whether you are doing the class or not.
It is a mix: while some leaders prefer the face to face classes, some others can’t do physical classes due to the working hours, change in meetings or travelling.
That was one of my main objectives: offer the flexibility they need, so the class is not another stress in their already packed agendas.
Continuous high levels of stress increases the cortisol in our body, which has a negative impact on our body and puts our brain into fight or flight mode, with little space for a more strategic type of thinking.
With yoga and meditation we lower the cortisol levels, and therefore are able to come up with more creative solutions, as well as boosting our immunity.
Yoga and meditation also increase focus, concentration and lateral thinking, crucial for moments of uncertainty and crisis.
Not to mention also the emotional benefit: they also allow us to boost our compassion levels, which is one of the latest trends for the leaders of the future: mindful leadership.