Wellbeing: Yoga for Lawyers

Words by Liz Barrett, Mature Students Representative, taken from her blog Silks and the City.

Wellbeing (noun) – the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.

In a new series on the blog, focusing on wellbeing, I will be posting pieces on how to improve health and happiness while in the process of studying and finding jobs. The first of these is all about the benefits of yoga.

fbd4ce7885ce4b59c8c83484be4deadd--geeks-geek-stuff

Everyone always says that second year is the hardest year; the biggest jump; the year you just grit your teeth and endure. But I didn’t want to think like that. I wanted to enjoy the new challenges, and embrace the myriad opportunities that second year law brings. With that in mind, and also knowing how much exercise benefits the mind, body and soul, I decided to take up yoga at university. For me, it supported a conscious decision at the start of second year to maintain a balanced life.

Bearing in mind I am probably the most un-yoga-ish of yogi types, I now consider myself a convert. In an effort to convert you, or at least to try and persuade you to give it a go, here are my top 5 reasons why lawyers should take up yoga (or something similar)…

Five reasons why yoga is great:

  1. GREAT for getting some ‘HEADSPACE’ and RE-CENTREING – for me, this is the number one benefit. Law is a very analytical, (at times self-centred), brain-heavy, intense subject; and I think yoga is an easy tool to clear your mind, focus on your health, and regain some balance and perspective. Exercise produces all manner of body-boosting, life-enhancing, mood-lifting hormones: endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, to name a few. On top of these, yoga also provides a space and time to relax and breathe; something I think we can forget to do in our hectic, modern lives. Often, after a yoga class, I am in such a ‘zen’ space, that I don’t even want to speak to anyone, for fear that that hour of inner peace yoga has brought will disappear like a bubble bursting. However, I believe that the positive effects of this ‘peace bubble’ stay with me, and benefit me; and I think you may feel the same.
  2. GREAT STUDENT/EMPLOYEE DISCOUNTS – my university offers inexpensive classes, with fully-qualified teachers, who deliver quality classes. If the cost is stopping you – ask your university or your workplace if they run sessions.
  3. GREAT WORKOUT – I was really shocked by how intense yoga could be (and how sore I was for a few days after my first few sessions). Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a bit of stretching. It’s a fantastic low-impact workout, that improves flexibility, core strength and works-out the whole body.
  4. GREAT FOR POSTURE – law students (and lawyers) are often sat hunched over computers or papers for hours on end, leading very sedentary lifestyles. These things, on top of heaving books and laptops around, can all add to bad posture, bad backs, and bad overall physical health. Yoga keeps you supple, flexible and improves core strength.
  5. GREAT FOR ALL ABILITIES AND FITNESS LEVELS – being rather unfit, myself, I worried yoga would be too much; and although it is hard work, it’s easy to pick up and complete a session with no experience and limited fitness. I do ‘Vinyasa Flow’ yoga, but there are plenty of other types which are more or less intense.

So, I hope that this has shown you that yoga can be especially beneficial for lawyers and law students alike. Yoga is not only great for your physical and mental wellbeing; but it may be an outlet or support during times of intense study and work, and could help counter-act a natural tendency towards ‘overthinking’ and the keeping-up-with-the-Jones’ mentality that can pervade law school.

Aspiring Solicitors’ Ability Event, in collaboration with Reed Smith

Words by Francesca Stocker.

In April, I attended the Ability Event hosted by Aspiring Solicitors and Reed Smith. The event was designed to promote diversity and inclusion within the legal profession, with a particular focus on disability and mental health. The event included a series of panel talks: solicitors and trainees talked about their own experiences with disability in the workplace, whether it was a visual impairment or wheelchair use, and how their workplace welcomed and accommodated them.

There was an additional segment focused on mental health and how to cope with the pressures of everyday life, as well as within the legal profession.

As students competing for jobs, our application focus is largely about catering to each individual employer and making ourselves seem as employable as possible. The experiences shared at the Ability Event reminded me that it is also important for the prospective employer to impress you. If an employer is not willing to accommodate you, help you fit into the work environment or views you as a cost burden, then it might be worth reconsidering whether you want to work in that kind of intolerant environment. When you are researching future employers, look beyond the diversity awards posted on their website and actually ask the HR team how they help employees feel comfortable at work or how mental health is dealt with.

Where disabilities and mental health are concerned, I think there is often a tendency to think of ourselves as the burden. However, hearing the trainees and solicitors talk, you could clearly tell they were confident individuals, who were not defined by their disability. It was a thoroughly enjoyable event to attend, with so much positivity and confidence being shared. I would like to pass on what I learnt with more people, so below are 3 pieces of advice I took away from the event;

  1. Avoid referring to yourself in the negative and try to showcase yourself and your skills in a positive light. There is no need to sell yourself short.
  2. On application forms, ensure you mention any mitigating circumstances or disabilities, so that the employer can make adjustments for application tests or assessment centre days.
  3. When researching employers, think about the type of environment you want to work in and what the employer provides to best support its employers.

Remember to check out Aspiring Solicitors, which is a great company focused on diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. Also get in touch with the Law Diversity & Inclusion team for support and information.