What are the benefits of yoga in the workplace?
- Increased energy, productivity, and sense of accomplishment
- Increased sense of feeling appreciated by the management/company
- Increased ability to respond in demanding situations, thus reducing reactivity
- Increased ability to focus for longer periods of time
- Improved decision-making skills
- Improved customer service and team work
- Reduced absenteeism due to stress-related illnesses
- Reduced turnover due to increased job satisfaction
- Increased recruiting advantage to attract highly motivated staff
- Reduced symptoms of stress including headaches, insomnia, and high blood pressure
- Decreased risk of work-related injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, and low back strain
- Increased posture, balance, strength, and flexibility in mind, body, and life
Prior to discovering yoga, I worked in the corporate world for over 25 years and struggled to find a balance between work, family, and other commitments. I was challenged to fit any sort of exercise into my life beyond walking to and from my desk each morning and night. With the ever increasing demands to keep up, I found myself skipping lunch, hunched over my computer all day, and only taking a break when I needed to hit the restroom (yeah, a couple more steps of exercise!). These work behaviors quickly became habits and those habits took a toll on my body and mind in the form of chronic stress, tension, lack of sleep, and ultimately chronic physical illness. Understanding that a small amount of stress can provide us with motivation to help us meet our deadlines and goals, chronic elevated levels of stress will interfere with our mental and physical health and impact our effectiveness in the workplace.
After discovering yoga, I immediately experienced a decrease in my stress levels in my body and, just as important, in my mind. I quickly became excited about the idea of bringing yoga into the workplace to share this experience with my colleagues.
After becoming certified and registered as a yoga teacher, I embraced the idea that the workplace might be one of the most natural and best places to practice yoga. I immediately integrated a personal practice at work, finding a quiet place such as an unused office or meeting room and spending 15 to 30 minutes simply moving through some gentle poses and deepening and slowing down my breath. I even found myself practicing in my chair at my desk for a few minutes a couple of times a day, especially when I was feeling any pain in my neck or back or when I noticed my mind either fuzzy or racing!
As more research demonstrates the detrimental effects of chronic stress in the workplace, many more companies are proactively seeking ways to encourage employees to take better care of their health. Yoga at work might just be one of the easiest options to offer and implement as it requires minimal equipment and space and doesn’t require time to change clothes or shower after the practice, especially if the class is offered using the desk chairs as the equipment. And the recent research suggests that companies who include yoga as part of an overall wellness program reduce annual health insurance premiums, contributing to a healthier company bottom line.
Yoga classes can be customized to best fit the needs of the company and your employees. Factors to consider include:
- When to offer classes – lunchtime to assist employees to clear their heads and prepare for the rest of the day and/or after work to support employees to decompress and unwind;
- Where to conduct classes – classes can be offered in a separate space if available, such as a spare office or boardroom, or at employees’ desks if a spare room is not an option;
- How frequently to offer classes – it is recommended to practice yoga more than once per week, but even just once a week has been shown to have observable results;
- What supplies to provide – if employees will be relocating to a separate space to practice yoga, at a minimum each person will need a yoga mat. It is also recommended to have a small blanket or beach towel that can be folded and utilized to support the body in the poses. Water bottles with the company logo are also encouraged!
If you are exploring the idea of including workplace yoga in your company’s wellness benefits, please connect with me to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.