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Blue-Collar Yoga: Economy Obstructs Yoga for Construction Workers

in Meditations on Mutations, YD News

How do you get blue-collar workers to try yoga? Build it and they will come! Or, be a builder and a yoga teacher like 64-year-old Allan Nett and create a specially tailored style. In San Francisco, Mr. Nett a contractor-turned-yoga instructor, developed a yoga-on-the-job program especially for the construction industry, aptly titled Yoga With Your Boots On (and tool belt, apparently).

We hear lots about the corporate world trying on office yoga to improve productivity and help employees relieve stress. What about the folks who literally put stress on their muscles and joints working on a building site?

Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal reports:

Mr. Nett is uniquely qualified to teach yoga to builders because of his experience in the field. He demonstrates techniques you can do “while you’re at work with your tool belt on” without “feeling like it’s a girly thing to do,” says Mr. Bedeur, 53.

He even substitutes the names of poses for construction references like “Plumb Bob” instead of Tadasana, and “Re-Bar Tie” for Gomukhasana.

The idea is to make yoga more accessible to the tool-toting crowd who wouldn’t normally be coaxed into take a moment to stretch and breathe, let alone take off their boots to do so. Amazingly enough the benefits of a practice, like a calmer mind and healthier body are still there, even without mats and sanskrit!

Mr. Nett’s teaching schedule, which stacked up during the housing boom, has taken a tumble since the bubble burst:

“You can’t justifiably look at your employees’ eyes and say: ‘We have to reduce the staff, but we’re keeping a guy doing yoga for us,’ ” says Peter Weber.

Weber, a supervisor at Central Valley Builders Supply, hired Nett a few years back in hopes that the yoga classes would help reduce the cost of workers’ compensation insurance, and essentially prevent on-the-job injuries. Great! But due to the economy, interest has slacked off bigtime. These days Yogi
Nett is trying to squeeze in some free classes for boot wearers, but you could say trying to convince some construction workers to try yoga is like vinyasa-ing through wet cement.

Sure, we could riff for hours on all the peculiarities of yoga variations, but it truly is unfortunate when the bottom line gets in the way of the plumb line. Er…you know what we mean.

We applaud your efforts Mr. Nett!

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7 comments… add one
  • I had two construction-type guys in my yin yoga class — they loved it….

  • Hooray for another type of specialized yoga. Seeing construction workers doing yoga is nothing short of priceless 🙂

  • Is there a calendar yet? That’s when we’ll know this new Yoga has truly made it.

    Bob W.

  • Best thing is Allan was teaching drop-in classes at the local “Home Depot” or some store like that in the parking lot. Go Allan. He’s an EXCELLENT teacher, and the best foot reflexologist I’ve ever experienced.

  • Love this! My husband is a builder and he loves yoga. Those guys and gals work hard and it’s rough on their bodies. Yoga can actually extend their careers by making their bodies more pliable.

  • Ryan

    Electrician / yogi here. The physical benefits are a double edged sword for me. I am physically superoir to my co-workers & have a lot less health problems. On the flip side due to svelte-ness I am always the guy who has to jam himself into tight little places & gets the tasks that my fatty co-workers just physically are unable to do. Oh well.

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