Yoga and Coding Unite

Here at Makers Academy, we believe in wholeness and balance. Part of what I do as Chief Joy Officer® at Makers Academy is teach regular Yoga Classes. We’ve found it to be a wonderful stress buster that leaves our students calm, centered and energised and of course stronger and more flexible in mind and body.

Here’s what some of our students say about their Yoga/Coding Journey at Makers Academy:

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 15.50.11Ivan
“Dana constantly pushes you to ‘find your edge’ in practice but at the same time allows plenty of scope for forgiveness if your body is not up to it. It’s an ideal way to reset both body and mind after hours of sitting at a desk working through seemingly intractable problems.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 15.50.23Matt
“If coding when it’s getting too much is like a devilish tormentor playing with one’s mind, then Yoga is the archangel that flies in and takes a holy crap on the bastard, instantly banishing the turmoil”

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 15.50.38Harriet
“Yoga at Makers Academy is so special – you forget about all things coding and go into your bubble. Without a doubt the best way to release all tension from a day of blockers. I wouldn’t have survived the course without it!”

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Yoga practice at Makers Academy

Students find Yoga useful to counter-balance a tired brain that’s been working on challenging coding problems all day. Yoga is also challenging, but incorporates teachings to move through the difficulties with a ‘broader perspective’ if you will. Is it possible to bring a Yogi mindset off the mat and on to the screen? Contrary to what many believe, Yoga is not simply a form of exercising and stretching the body.

What Is Yoga?
There is a lot more to Yoga than achieving certain bodily postures to create strength and flexibility. Derived from the Sankrit word “yuj” which means “to unite”, Yoga is around 5000 years old, born from India. Yoga is all about harmonising mind, body and spirit through various postures, breathing techniques and meditation.

The postures and breathing techniques I teach here at MA have a clear physical benefit, but when our students pay attention to their inner experience (mental/emotional) – that’s when the magic happens. Students are encouraged to take from the classes what they need and leave the rest. I incorporate anatomy teachings as well as some yoga philosophy in my classes. As the weeks of the coding course roll on, it’s amazing to watch many Yoga students transform themselves in heart, mind and body.

Yoga is a discipline, so is learning to code in 12 weeks. I felt curious to know about how Yoga Philosophy can be linked to what we teach here at Makers Academy. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (One of the great texts of the Yoga world) is to Yogis as Clean Code by Robert C. Martin is to a Makers Academy graduate. Patanjali divides Yoga into 8 limbs:

Yamas – Restraints
Niyamas – Observations
Asana – Physical posture
Pranayama – Breathing Practice
Pratyhara – Withdrawal from senses
Dhahrana – Intense focus
Dhyana – Meditation
Samadhi – Oneness

I interviewed fellow team mate, Leo, on the matter. As a senior developer and attendee of my Yoga classes, I wanted to know what his interpretations, as a coder, are of the first limb of the Yoga Sutras – YAMAS/RESTRAINTS


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Leo Allen – Senior coachineer

There are 5 Yamas. Below, the Sanskrit and translation, followed by Leo’s interpretation:

Ahimsa ~ Nonviolence
Not just lack of violence but also practicing kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of other people and things.

Leo -“Write clean code that is considerate of others – don’t just think of yourself and getting the code working, be kind and remember that other people are going to have to look at your code and work with it after you’ve finished working with it.”

Satya ~ Truthfulness
Satya means “to speak the truth,” and to do it as compassionately as you can.

Leo – “Your code should express what it means – don’t hide intent or be obscure when writing code. So for example when coding HTML, make sure your code is semantic where all of your elements match the meaning they were intended for, so only use elements for marking out sections.”

Asteya ~ Nonstealing
The practice of asteya implies not taking anything that has not been freely given. This includes being conscious of how we ask for others’ time and attention. If it is demanded and not freely given, it is in effect, stealing.

Leo – “When writing object-oriented code, practice the Law of Demeter and avoid taking from your object’s dependencies more than has been offered (i.e. its dependencies public methods). Do not break encapsulation and steal from the internal workings of other objects”

Brahmacharya ~ Non-excess
Being mindful of not overusing our energy that it leads to harming another or distraction from our higher truth.

Leo – “Follow the single responsibility principle – each object should have no more than one responsibility to avoid objects becoming bloated, overly complex and unreadable.”

Aparigraha ~ Non-attachment
Implies letting go of our attachments to things and an understanding that change is the only constant.

Leo – “Your code should not be attached to its dependencies, you should instead use dependency injection to ensure objects are loosely coupled together.”

Amazing! Thanks, Leo. Perhaps the worlds do overlap. As gruelling as the course might sound, our students are choosing to be here with their whole hearts. Coding is more like Yoga than I thought. A student working on improving their Warrior 1 pose has the same spark of determination as a student working on mastering Test-Driven Development or when a Yogi takes a child pose to rest and be kind to themselves, it’s the same when after a morning of red tests, a Maker shuts their laptops and goes for a soothing walk.


MA Yogis

Outdoor Yoga with Makers

I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to all Makers Academy students and staff who take part in my Yoga classes. Your practice on and off the mat inspires me every time! I love being on the journey with you as you change your lives inside and out! Looking forward to more fun and transformative sessions. And as always, remember to breath :)


Chief Joy Officer®

Keep an eye out for part 2 of “Coding and Yoga Unite”.

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