Backlogs, Burndown and…YOGA?

May 8, 2014

Blog | Culture | Backlogs, Burndown and…YOGA?
Backlogs, Burndown and…YOGA?

Those of us working on agile teams sometimes find ourselves in long and frustrating sprint planning meetings. An endless backlog filled with undefined tasks and a burndown chart that doesn’t quite resemble the desired X shape seem as constant as the frown on each developer’s face. Instead of planning sessions that feel fluid and gratifying, these meetings tend to leave team members feeling depleted and overwhelmed, which begs the question: Is there anything that can be done to make these meetings invigorating? Can we find a way to create a planning environment that encourages clarity, efficiency, and progress? Well, in fact YES. Start off every meeting with a quick yoga session. (Of course, it helps to have a team member who doubles as a yogi on weekends. Thanks Dave Kamm). How better to establish a mood of calm, determined focus?

We tried exactly this recently and results seemed to be positive. Even the resistant had to admit we got through the meeting frown-free. Maybe it was something about sitting on the hardwood floor, steadying our breath, and bringing awareness to our third-eye centers. Or maybe it was something about being advised to tilt our heads back so that all negativity could pour out of the imaginary faucet at the back of our heads. At the very least, we shared a good laugh. 

In all seriousness though, studies affirm that yoga and meditation elevate mood, increase focus, and foster clarity of communication. It’s not all hocus-pocus. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Studies also suggest that practicing yoga … [has] health benefits such as reducing heart rate and blood pressure, and may also help relieve anxiety and depression.” Exactly what we need before kicking off a marathon session.

But hey, if becoming one with your inner earth child starts to lose its appeal and effectiveness, I can always go back to bringing in donuts.

Photo Credit: Nullplus Photo from Flickr Creative Commons

Tim Butler

Director of Account Management
  • Culture
  • Sprint Planning

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