Why organisational culture, not yoga, will solve your anxiety

Yoga and mindfulness practices have risen in popularity in the past decade. They are seen as a cure-all to the daily troubles of our modern life, including our working life. But there is something even more powerful that can improve well-being in the workplace: organisational culture.

The accelerated pace of life, our digital addiction, the new stressors of the working world — all have contributed to a desire to find ways to regain better control of our lives. Stressed at work? Five minutes of daily meditation will do. Trouble sleeping? No worries, a warrior yoga pose before bed will solve it. Can’t disconnect from your work e-mails? Sit in a lotus position until you can. Feel like you’re always on the run? Easy, practice your yoga handstand.

Magic cure or false promise?

The benefits of these and other similar mindful practices are undeniable. Yet, the assumption that they can act as a magic cure by themselves creates false expectations. These practices usually encourage us to look inwards and find our own individual balance. If we look outwards, though, our work environment is usually a more powerful determinant of our well-being.

Mindfulness can’t compensate for a toxic culture

There is little value in setting ourselves up with a morning meditation session if chaos reigns once we arrive in the office. No amount of meditation will compensate for a toxic manager with a chaotic management style or routinely replying to e-mails at night. Mindfulness would need to become a collective value to be truly effective. How does this look like? Mindful organisations are aware of the potential stressors that their employees are facing. They incentivise management practices that anticipate and organise work wisely. Situations that may induce stress are unavoidable, but how well organisations manage them is an active decision.

Positive work routines are more important

We can certainly disconnect for an hour-long yoga class, but we will still come back to our daily routines. Unless we take action to create a sustainable pace of work that nurtures us, instead of depleting us, the benefits of yoga will be limited. What we can do is actively integrate the core principles of yoga into our daily working life. The ability to stay grounded, be resilient, and approach work with a sense of calm are some of the many values that can foster a positive working culture. It is often difficult for employees to voice what would make them happier out of fear of being reprimanded. Yet, the courage to speak up may be the single best thing for their well-being.

It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that we can soothe our stress, pace our lives and find fulfillment in work through mindful practices alone. Our lives are not lived in isolation, they are part of wider social dynamics that shape how we live. Our work environment can therefore make or break our happiness.

We can all do something to make our organisation’s culture better for ourselves and our colleagues.


I am a coach and trusted advisor to driven and gifted people who feel there’s an inkling of rebellion in them. I help them create more fulfilment and reduce stress in their work and careers, on their terms. Connect with me here: www.anisiabucur.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store