Caring for Working Parents: Incorporating Yoga into Your Work Day

Working parents are familiar with STRESS!

Especially in 2020. What we are not as familiar with are ways to mitigate it.

Join Amanda as she talks with Jessica Petrie, Founder of Yoga Next Door about ways we can all - even the beginners - incorporate a little yoga into our workdays. Remember, taking care of yourself is the first step in being able to care for your family.

Jessica Petrie is the founder and owner of Yoga Next Door. Yoga Next Door offers all levels of Vinyasa yoga classes in-person and online (live and recorded). Jessica’s Vinyasa Yoga classes are a balance of yoga philosophy, breath work, movement, stretching and strengthening. Jessica also provides corporate services, helping companies both support remote workers and host virtual conferences. Jessica has been practicing yoga for over 20 years. At age 40, she completed her 200 hour Vinyasa Yoga and Ayurveda Teacher Training with Katie O’Connell of Dragonfly Yoga in North Sandwich, New Hampshire. Jessica has also done Restorative Yoga training with Robin Ivy Patton in Maine and Smart & Creative Yoga Sequencing with Rocky Heron through Yoga International.

Learn more about Yoga Next Door at

And SUBSCRIBE to the Yoga At Your Door YouTube Channel

You can also follow Jessie on FaceBook, LinkedIn, Instagram

[Audio Transcript]

Amanda Hemm, Soutiens

Hello, this is Amanda Hemm from Soutiens. I am here today with Jessica Petrie to talk about ways that we, as working parents, can reduce our stress and take care of ourselves through yoga - yoga in the home, yoga in the workplace. Wherever you can find that stress relief is just so wonderful. Jessie, welcome.

Jessie Petrie, Yoga Next Door

Thanks so much for having me. I'm really happy to be here.

Yoga Next Door - a year ago - was a yoga studio. My training is in Vinyasa Yoga, but my classes are for all levels. I do gentle classes that are inspired by Vinyasa to more rigorous flow classes, and I've also started the teaching chair yoga. So that was what we were a year ago in the studio, and then COVID happened. Quickly we had to move all of the classes online. I now use Zoom for my live streaming platform and I have started a recordings library of my classes. People can access the class content live, but can also access on-demand, recorded classes or join the library site to practice whenever and wherever.

So that's what Yoga Next Door is offering in 2020. Some things I never thought I would be offering in 2020!


You also have a couple of sample classes up on YouTube. This morning, my husband woke up and his back felt a little tight. I said, “This is what we're gonna do”. We went on to your YouTube channel and there was a class about hips and low back opening. We started our day with half an hour of wonderful yoga with you.


That is exactly what that is there for! I have put some free classes on my YouTube channel. It has videos that are 15 minutes to 30 minutes that are designed to be those quicker breaks to start your day or take a break during the day, to breathe and get your body moving. It's so great to hear that you guys turned to that this morning!


It was perfect. It was a great way to start the day. As you know, for many working parents it is back to school season. All of our stress is amplified. We hold it in shoulders and backs and hips. We're sitting in chairs and staring at screens more. And self care tends to get thrown right out the window. Can you talk a little bit about why self care is something that really should not be thrown out the window and that we need to pay attention to?


Definitely! Some of you may have read a recent article that came out about how we reached our surge capacity. When all this happened back in March we were kind of running on adrenaline. We were making work work. We were making homeschool work and it was a lot. And now we're six months into it. We don't know what the future of the rest of this year is going to look like. There's a lot of uncertainty, which you may or may not realize that you're carrying around with you.

I am really here to tell my students, and to advocate to people that watch this episode, to make the time for self care. If we even give ourselves little chunks of time during our days, we come back to our kids, we come back to our co-workers and our spouses, from a calmer, more energized, and hopefully physically feeling better, place. I think it is really going to be important if we want to continue to be our best selves through the rest of the pandemic.


It gets right back to that old airline adage of put on your mask first. You need to take care of you in order to take care of everyone else. Before we started recording, Jessie and I were talking about the fact that one of my biggest challenges has been helping to guide my kids through the emotional work that they are learning how to do during this period. And in order to be able to do that, you have to have something of yourself to give.


Exactly. And my favorite adage is “If mommy's not happy, nobody's happy”. I think you hit the nail on the head. Our kids are experiencing a lot of big emotions, as are we, and we need to communicate with them that it's okay to be feeling these things. We can’t be in a place where our own emotional level will escalate their emotional levels. So, if we are calmer and happier and have taken better care of ourselves, we can meet them where they are. And hopefully, all get to that level together faster.


Absolutely. At Soutiens we talk a lot about self care not necessarily being the big lavish, luxurious girls weekend away, mani-pedis, or massages. You know, those things that we're not doing anymore anyway. It's the small things that you can integrate into your day. Meditation and yoga definitely come up frequently as options that you can do in your own home. This can be an hour and a half class or a 15 minute class. It really depends on how you want to fit it in.

For people who don't practice meditation and yoga, it can be a little bit daunting to think “where do I start, how do I figure this out?”. Do you have any tips for working parents who are already completely busy about how to fit some yoga and mindfulness into their work day?


Sure. I think that is a great question that we're all asking ourselves. “I have so much on my plate. How can I add one more thing?” My advice would be to start small. Maybe you set an intention to do a 15 minute yoga break, like we were just talking about, or a five minute guided meditation. There are tons of free tools at our disposal in 2020 - whether it's a quick yoga session on YouTube, or an app like Calm that has lots of great guided meditations. There are also apps like Down Dog where you can say “I have this much time, I want to stretch my hips”, and you can really tailor the experience. If you're going to take 10 minutes to breathe and move your body, you'll get something out of it. So my first tip is to start small and access all the great, free resources that we have available to us right now.

My second tip is to figure out your time of the day for self care. So for me, I love getting up early and taking care of my mind and my body, while my children are still sleeping. That doesn't work for everybody. I think that's harder if you have little kids or younger kids that are not sleeping through the night. Maybe, your time is in the middle of the day. Maybe you do something right before your lunch break or right after your lunch break. I will often stop mid-afternoon around three o'clock, for a meditation break, or a meditation “snack”, just because my mind is starting to get foggy. I find if I bring my mind to focus and sit in stillness, even for 10 minutes at that point in the day, I have enough energy and juice to get through the rest of the day until we're all in bed at 9pm, and hopefully asleep. I have other students that have found their time of the day to practice is after they get their kids in bed. I don't teach any evening yoga classes so they're taking advantage of recorded content to get their weekly yoga practice in at a time that works for them. Some people think of yoga as energizing. If you're doing it properly you are really working on breath work too, which can bring you down and calm your nerves at the end of the day. This gets you ready and prepared for a better night's sleep.

So those are my two big pieces of advice: 1) start small, accessing all the great things that are available to us and 2) find your time of day. It has been my experience, and the experience of some of my yoga students, once you start feeling the benefits, you want more. If you take 15 minutes to move and 10 minutes to meditate that's 25 minutes out of your whole day. And when you feel the gains, then you say, “ah, maybe I can eke out 20 minutes of movement this morning and 15 minutes of meditation and maybe instead of doing it once a week, I'm going to do it twice a week”. When you start feeling better in your body and calmer, then you can grow your practice.


Those are great tips. A couple of things to add on to that: When I was first starting, I integrated my kids into the practice. Yoga with kids is not the same experience by any means but it starts to show them the importance of doing these practices and taking care of yourself. And, doing some of the breath work with kids is so amazing to help them as well. If you're with your kids all day long and everybody's frustrated and you can just do a great big Lion's breath and let it all out, then it just helps everybody.


Definitely. Kids need their recess, right? Kids need to get up and breathe in their bodies and so do we! I love the idea of doing that with your kids because we all need a break. And we all need to find ways to be playful during this too and not always be working and doing school.


To play off of your second tip, about finding your time of day, there are days that just go by so fast. The whole day just cascades and you lose all of your 15-minute breaks. On those days Yoga Nidra has been such a gift. Its a combination of meditation and yoga. It's not movement yoga but it's breath, and intentionality. I've done these myself and I do them with my daughter, who's now in seventh grade, as a great way to deepen the quality of our sleep.


Yeah, those more restorative yoga practices are so beneficial. Our minds are so busy, but they really crave stillness. Any way you can give that to yourself, you will reap the benefits.

Right now I'm also teaching a Restorative class. I have a couple of people here in my studio with me but a lot of people are Zooming in from their homes. Restorative Yoga is another great practice, like Yoga Nidra, where if you're feeling physically depleted, you come into

postures completely supported by the props and you're still. You're holding the poses longer, and you're still getting some stretches and opening through the body, but it's not physically rigorous. You'll trigger your relaxation response and sleep better. You might also find the next day that you aren’t quite as stiff because you were still stretching out your back or stretching up your hips in a less active way.


So on the opposite end of the day, I am flashing back to when I used to work for a company that brought in a yoga instructor on Wednesday mornings. It was so amazing! You know, I struggled to get to work on time in general - getting kids ready for daycare and out of the house. But Wednesday mornings I made it work early because this yoga was just so delicious! And it was right in the lobby, it wasn't private, it was out there for everybody to see, but it was the best way to start my day.

Are you seeing more employers, offering wellness benefits such as yoga and if so, what do you think the motivation is for the companies to be bringing this in for their employees?


To answer your question, yes, I do think that companies are acknowledging the strain that we are under this year and trying to put more resources like yoga or meditation in the workplace for their employees. Even if it's just a monthly class. One of my yoga students brings her team together once a month for 30 minutes. So again it's that introduction. Some people can do it once a week which is really wonderful!

The other thing I'm seeing a lot of is virtual breakout rooms at conferences where they have pre-recorded or live streaming yoga content. It might be a breathwork lesson, meditation break, chair yoga break, or offering a whole yoga class where you are on the mat. Those are two things that I've experienced with my business.

It's great that there is starting to be more and more research on yoga, and the benefits of yoga. So many of those benefits transfer to more productivity in the workplace. So, if you have less strain and stress in your body, you're going to feel better, you're going to have more energy. Your concentration will better. Your focus will be better. Your creativity will go up. There are so many benefits to us as individuals, but also to our employers to make time for people to take a break, do some yoga and then come back with fresh energy, focus, and creativity.


I love it when companies look at their employees as whole people. And this self care and taking care of the mental, emotional, and physical needs are just as important for the productivity and the bottom line, as communications training or whatever other programs employers are bringing in to help support their employees. I'm thrilled to see that that is on the rise.

If people want to learn a little bit more about Yoga Next Door, what is the best way to find you?


Visit my website, which is! I recommend trying one of my yoga breaks. I put one up a month. And there are breaks on my YouTube channel - Yoga at Your Door - now that focus on different parts of the body so if your shoulders are tight or your low back, like you were saying your husband was feeling this morning. You can find a 15 to 30-minute video, and you can check out my teaching style. And then if you're looking for a little more, you can connect with me through my website to try a full class or start live streaming weekly. I'm also on social media on Facebook and Instagram, and LinkedIn - so many social media channels!


That's great. It sounds like wherever people are they can find a way to reach you and to bring a little more yoga into their lives and into their workplaces.

Thank you very much for joining us today.


As a mom of three kids, it's my top priority to help other parents get through 2020 in one piece. I really appreciate the opportunity to share a little yoga love with all of your audience today. Thank you.