Yoga for HR, Talent Acquisition, and Work-Life Balance

Yoga in HR and Talent Acquisition

Yoga in HR and Talent Acquisition

In this engaging episode, of GoHire Talks, we welcome Jessica Miller Merrill, a prominent figure in the HR and Talent Acquisition space, and the force behind the popular blog HR Workology.

Jessica shares her journey from being an HR director to running a successful blog and providing training, resources, and support to the HR community. 

JD and Jessica dive deep into their shared passion for yoga, discussing its benefits, the types of yoga they practice, and the idea of integrating yoga sessions into HR and TA events.

Join us for an insightful conversation about HR trends, digital recruiting, and the mindful practice of yoga.

Yoga and HR and Talent Acquisition Beyond Professional Boundaries

In an engaging discussion, Jonathan Duarte welcomes one of his favorite guests in the Talent Acquisition (TA) and Human Resources (HR) space, Jessica Miller Merrell.

This conversation delves into their long-standing friendship, career accomplishments, and a shared passion that goes beyond their professional lives—yoga.

Jessica’s Journey in HR

Jessica started her career as an HR director to becoming a renowned blogger and educator in the HR sphere.

Workology, her HR blog reaches about a million people per month, sharing resources, training, and information.

Jessica also emphasizes her recent focus areas, including digital recruiting and HR certification prep through her online learning platform.

Jonathan’s Interest in Yoga

With over 22 years of Bikram Hot Yoga practice, JD shares how yoga played a crucial role when recovery from a severe mountain biking accident where he shattered is shoulder and arm in 6 places, and because of his previous yoga practices and then continued practices, he was able to get 98% of his mobility back, when the surgeon thought he wasn’t going to get more than 50% of it back.

Jonathan also mentions some of things he’s learned along the way, from some of the many incredible yoga instructors in the San Francisco Bay Area. 
“A dear friend and owner of Yoga West a studio in Napa, CA, Katie Curry, introduced me to the Zen philosophy of Shoshin, which translates to “Beginner’s Mind”.

He envisions building a yoga community within TA and HR, suggesting integrating yoga classes into conferences like SHRM Talent in Las Vegas.

This idea aligns perfectly with their professional ethos of continuous improvement and community building.

Jessica’s Yoga Practice

Jessica recounts her yoga journey, which began intermittently at the age of 23, but became a daily practice during the pandemic. Her routine includes at least 15-30 minutes of yoga daily, emphasizing mindfulness, meditation, and movement. She recently completed her yoga teacher training, showcasing her dedication to personal wellness.

The Importance of Yoga for HR Professionals

Jessica emphasizes the importance of self-care, setting boundaries, and avoiding burnout in a demanding industry. She advocates for yoga and meditation as tools to create space and maintain mental health.

Yoga for all shapes, sizes, fitness levels and ages.

Jonathan and Jessica share their diverse experiences with different types of yoga. Jonathan’s journey includes experimenting with various studios and styles like vinyasa and sound baths, to hot vinyasa flows, and even Animal Flow training.

Full Transcript: Jessica Miller-Merrell – Yoga in HR and Talent Acquisition

[00:00:01] Jonathan Duarte: Hey everyone, so I’ve got one of my favorite guests in TA and HR Jessica Miller Merrill.

Jess, I don’t remember how long ago we met, but I would gather it was before GoodHire days so 2010, I don’t know, around there.

[00:00:16] Jessica Miller Merrell: Probably 13 years ago or ish. Yeah.

[00:00:18] Jonathan Duarte: My goal in these video interviews is to introduce the brightest, Most talented people in the space that I know .

So I want to get everyone on record with all their great knowledge and tips and tricks on how people can execute. Jess, why don’t you give you, give us a little heads up about you and what you’re up to these days.

[00:00:39] Jessica Miller Merrell: So I’m Jess and I have a popular blog in the HR Workology. I started out as a HR director and I started a blog in 2007, I think, and it became my job.

And so now I spend my days [00:01:00] educating, training, providing resources, information, and support for the HR I cover a wide variety of content our website reaches about a million people every single month, and it’s a lot of fun to just talk about our space and share with the community, just information and just what I’m learning and what I’m reading.

I Most recently, we’re really focused in a couple different areas. I have a book that came out last year and it’s called Digitizing Talent. So I’m spending my time talking about all things digital recruiting, a lot in training, and a lot of one on one engagement with TA teams. And then on the other side of things is I have an online learning platform and program for HR certification prep.

So helping support HR leaders with their SHRM or their HRCI certification and recertification. And it’s available on demand and always accessible over on Workology.

[00:01:58] Jonathan Duarte: Awesome. Awesome.

You’ve [00:02:00] been sharing a lot of your yoga practice, which I just think it’s amazing because I’ve been practicing yoga for at least 22 years, Bikram hot yoga.

And I’ve used it, from when I broke my shoulder I used it in recovery. My doctor said, there’s no way like you’re getting your arm above my shoulder. I have full mobility of my arm and a lot of it came from just having done yoga and being able to stretch before and then just continuously like I would put a stick in my mouth and just do what I needed to do.

from PT side. So tell me about your practice. And then, and and the reason I also bring this thing up is because if there’s anyone listening who goes to TA and HR events. I want to build a yoga community within TA and, when you’re going to these events.

It used to be we’d go out for drinks and everything at night, and I’m yeah, that’s fun. But I’d rather get up in the [00:03:00] morning and do a yoga class with people at the conferences. And I don’t know if they’ve ever had them before. But I’m on this kind of drive to figure out who’s doing it, what are they doing, and just find like where I know we’re both going to SHRM Talent in Vegas.

And I think it would just be great to be able to just say, hey, we just need a room with and we can find a local instructor and, I don’t know if it’s five of us or 20 or 50, I don’t care, whatever, do a yoga class. That would be just so cool.

[00:03:32] Jessica Miller Merrell: We can do our, we can do our own yoga class. Yeah, we’re teachers.

We can teach. I, so I’ve been doing yoga for, and I haven’t been like, it’s not always consistent. So I’m just going to say I’ve been doing yoga since I was 23 years old off and on. But when I came out of like during the pandemic, I really had time to think about what I wanted for myself and what I wanted the future to look like coming back to the world.

And So I said to him, we really thought about [00:04:00] when things were going well for me. And that’s when I had a regular yoga practice and I was less stressed and just more familiar with who I am and more in tune into, my own personal thoughts and needs. And so when we came out of the pandemic, it was like mid 2020.

I or as soon as we opened, I immediately went to The only place that was open, which at the time was like private Pilates, because the studios weren’t even open. So I started that. And then the later that year, a studio opened here in Austin. That was Hot Yoga. And at first we were in Hot Yoga, a hundred degrees with our masks on.

In Texas. Doing doing yoga and I have been doing a daily yoga practice for almost four years. I do at least 15 minutes, if not 30 minutes or more of yoga a day, whether it’s at home or in the studio. And then I recently finished up my yoga [00:05:00] teacher training as well. So I.

[00:05:02] Jonathan Duarte: Oh, awesome.

[00:05:02] Jessica Miller Merrell: Really enjoy yoga and really focus on just mindfulness and meditation and just movement.

What, however is like comfortable for your body and you personal.

[00:05:15] Jonathan Duarte: Yeah it’s been, I was saying I started this journey with a friend to from the San Francisco Bay area and just go around to studios everywhere and just take a new class, new teacher, new studio, and just experiment because I’ve been doing Bikram for 22 plus years and now, I’ve done sound baths, I’ve done vinyasa flows, I’ve been power vinyasa and people were like, dude, you’re not, you can’t do the power vinyasa, you’ve never done it before.

I was like, yes I can, just go in.

[00:05:46] Jessica Miller Merrell: I’m not too worried about, if you’re doing Bikram, you can do any type of yoga, I think the most important thing is just to start and then just listen to your body. When I first started going to the hot yoga studio here in Austin, I could only do 50 [00:06:00] percent of the class.

And that was enough for me. We’re all starting from somewhere. You don’t have to be somebody who can go upside down and do all these crazy yoga poses. All you have to do is get in there and move. And so that’s why I want to talk. more about yoga and meditation and what’s working for me because it’s helping me create space and boundaries for myself.

And I really feel very strongly that the HR and TA community needs that right now, because we are, we have smaller teams, we’re doing more work, maybe than we have done before. I think it’s important for us to focus on these things now. Because as the economy starts to shift again, they’re going to say, hey you’ve already done, you’ve been working with a team of seven, even though you had 25 previously, we’re just not going to hire.

It’s okay that you’ll have a few more recs. I want TA and HR leaders to be able to say, absolutely not. I draw the line here. These are the boundaries that I need in order [00:07:00] to be successful, like not only as a TA or HR leader, but as a human being. And I think a lot of us are already right now at the point of burnout.

Let’s start focusing on taking care of ourselves, even just a little bit now there’s, we don’t, we shouldn’t be waiting.

[00:07:17] Jonathan Duarte: Yeah. I think my, in my practice again, a friend of mine mentioned The Zen Buddhist concept of Soshin, which is Beginner’s Mind, I think on April 1st, and I’ve been practicing every day, and it to me was an opening. So you just gotta listen and you say, oh, where am I today? And that’s, that is part of the practice. That is the practice that, and people talk about, yoga and it’s often referred to as your yoga practice, because it’s practice. It’s not, you’re not expert at it.

So when I talked to somebody else, I said, Hey, why don’t you come to this yoga class with me? They’re like, oh, I haven’t done it like 20 years. And I go, doesn’t matter. It’s a practice. It’s just practice.

[00:08:00] Jessica Miller Merrell: It’s about you. It’s not a competition. So there’s not, I’m not going there. Like I went this morning to class and I didn’t look at the person next to me and be like, Oh man, I’m going to beat her.

That’s not how this is. The focus is you. I’m going to get into a handstand and she isn’t because I’m a better yogi. No, that’s not how it works. You focus on you. It’s nice to be in a room full of people who are like minded, who are committed to their selves in that way.

And so I just try to enjoy but it took me a long time to get to that place where I was focused on myself. Being somebody who has been considered plus size and trying to go into yoga for myself was really challenging. And I feel like there’s a lot of, petite young people that are very good at yoga.

And so I talk about it a lot online about my own experience being like plus size [00:09:00] midsides doing yoga, because I feel like it’s for anyone. And I want people to know that there are people maybe like them or of a different size or different body type that are practicing. So maybe they would feel comfortable to come.

Come to class. So I’m always in the front of the room. I I do my own yoga my own way, and I’m just happy to support me and then be with other people who are of the same kind of like vibration and thought.

[00:09:29] Jonathan Duarte: Yeah, I think that’s really important because I see a lot of people even just getting into yoga and there could be in their seventies, older males and females, even oh, overweight, who’ve just never done anything.

The doctor said, just move.

[00:09:45] Jessica Miller Merrell: And it’s a woman in my hot yoga class. And she’s an inspiration. She’s 66. Her name’s Carol. She comes like Tuesday morning. We were there and I told her, I was like, I want to be you when I grow up. This woman is [00:10:00] amazing. And that’s what it’s all about for me. So it’s just learning and being inspired from other people, but focusing more on what’s best for you.

Not what’s best for you, but what’s best for me as a person.

[00:10:13] Jonathan Duarte: I’d say anyone who has done Bikram like I have for 22 years and it was like straight Bikram before they changed it to hot, whatever now. It was very rigorous. It was, it still is, but the community is a community of people who are very hardcore, who want to go into a room that’s 104 and beat the crap out of themselves for 90 minutes, because that’s essentially what you were doing.

And that’s one type of yoga. Not all yoga at all. It’s just one extreme.

[00:10:39] Jessica Miller Merrell: There are many others. So for example, like I do hot vinyasa and then I’ll do regular like vinyasa or hatha flow. But then the type of yoga that I teach primarily is something called kundalini yoga, which is really focused on meditation and mantra and a series of exercise sets that are [00:11:00] really focused on moving energy in your body.

I like it because it’s accessible to anyone of any age. And you don’t have to be super fit to be able to see benefits of those kinds of things. So there’s so many different types. So go out there and give it a try or message us to talk to us about like yoga and meditation. It’s nice to have people in the community who get it because it’s not something that you and I ever talked about until I started posting videos and you’re like, Hey, I didn’t know that you did that too.

Yeah, I want to know more people in our space that are maybe regular meditators or have a yoga practice.

[00:11:37] Jonathan Duarte: Yeah, exactly. It was great about this and thanks beyond just cause number one, just to have you on and and for everyone to know about you and Workology but on a personal note for people to realize, Hey, we’re out here, I’m 55.

Jessica is 26 and but we have this community we’ve known each other 13 years and never knew that we both practice yoga. No. And so we want to open [00:12:00] that conversation up and, just get personal about some of this stuff. This is our community. These are our people. I want everyone to meet each other and understand what Jessica’s really good at, what I’m good at, and who to reach out to for help.

[00:12:12] Jessica Miller Merrell: Yeah. And I think that don’t be defined by one thing. So you have GoHire, you’re a tech startup founder, but you also practice yoga and you are a a iron man. There’s so many different facets to who we are as people. So remember that. You don’t have to just be one thing, you just have to be true to you.

And I think that’s the most important and powerful thing. We can be different versions of ourselves simultaneously.

[00:12:38] Jonathan Duarte: Oh yeah. Thank you so much for, being open to even talk about yoga. On online, especially in like on LinkedIn where, it’s just not a normal phase of things.

But that opened our conversation. Hopefully it opens up the conversation for a lot more. So thanks for always being that same person for the HR and HR tech community for us.

[00:12:58] Jessica Miller Merrell: Of course. Happy to [00:13:00] connect and talk more. Thanks for having me on.

[00:13:02] Jonathan Duarte: Yeah. Awesome.