We already know yoga is a major perk at awesome companies, but it very well ought to be the cornerstone of office culture at a company called Asana. Need a coffee break? How about a few backbends to energize, instead. Chatting at the water cooler? Better be standing in the pose of the day! (Because clearly there would be a pose of the day at Asana.) Those loo-katasanas must be bangin’by now, huh ladies? (loo-ka-TA-sa-na: fierce bathroom stall pose)
OK, so that’s not exactly what Asana is like, but it’s the closest thing we’ve seen to the epitome of work flow.
Asana, founded by super smart dudes, Justin Rosenstein (former facebook lead engineer) and Dustin Moskovitz (facebook co-founder – Joseph Mozzello played him in The Social Network), is a company that makes task-management and collaboration software, that somehow managed to use their interwebs wizardry to snag asana.com and @asana, and that is only slightly frustratingly pronounced ah-SAH-nah (not AH-sa-na).
We’ve been fascinated with Asana since they scored their cool $9 million in startup funding when we asked them for an interview which they graciously declined, apparently being way too productive building their productivity software, in between yoga breaks, we assume. Based on this TechCrunch “Cribs” episode, it looks like they have plenty of time to give tours of oyster lunches and Liberace worthy Burning Man art projects now! But, we’re not bitter.
Oh yes, and there’s yoga!
Among the other zen-ful features of the Asana office (ie. requisite blank white walls, Silicon Valley hipsterisms, a grand piano decked out in LED lights, etc.) there is a nap/meditation room and a yoga space where they hold daily yoga classes as well as other therapeutics like reiki and massage.
We admit, the “Cribs” video is perhaps a little boring for the non-softeware nerd types. Because, really, we half expected the meditation room to look like this:
and the workspace to look like this:
Still, it’s pretty awesome to see yoga provided in an office where sitting crunched up in shlumpasana with your eyes glued to the computer screen is more likely the familiar working position.
So do the founders practice yoga? While we didn’t get a full interview with the head nerdasanas, we did get the scoop from Justin about their yoga offerings and practices. He told us in email:
We offer yoga twice a week for all employees and their +1s (optionally, of course). Both Dustin and I have both a yoga and meditation practice. (I do some combination of yoga&meditation for an hour daily.) But more importantly, mindfulness is a core component of our business, touching everything from how we communicate internally to how we build the product to our long-term vision. Offering yoga classes is just one manifestation of our general commitment to giving everyone on the team access to everything they need to perform at their best, so that we can succeed at our mission of making teams more effective through great software.
And when we originally grilled them about co-opting yoga for capital gain, this is what Justin said about choosing to name the company “Asana.”
Hi, YogaDork! Just wanted to say that it’s definitely not our intent to exploit yoga. We’re very serious about incorporating yogic values into the company’s culture and product vision. Doing this while also trying to achieve capitalist objectives may seem like a contradiction, but I’m hoping it will feel more like stretching between opposites
As for the choice of “Asana” (other than being short, available, and easier to pronounce than most Sanskrit words), the idea was that postures provide an opportunity for the body to achieve ‘form in flow’ much as our software aims to provide form/structure for your data to help you achieve mental flow in your work. Our yoga teacher also suggested “Drishti,” which also has a nice ring to it and some good meaning, but is harder to spell.
Their 15 Values speak further to the yoga-ness. Via the asana website:
- Reason balanced with intuition
- Honesty & transparency
- Willful intention without attachment to results
- Action in the face of fear
- Pragmatic craftsmanship
- Equanimity (Chillness)
- Being a mensch
- Company as collective of peers
- Investing in ourselves & each other
- Admitting when you’re wrong
- Fixing problems, even if they’re not yours
- Trust wisdom over rules & incentives
Sure, maybe 8 might have been more appropriate, but we’re pretty sure today’s Patanjali would have added “being a mensch” to the limbs.
We don’t have the software, but it’s striking how much this is exactly what the YD HQ looks like. ahem.