Yoga at work. Everyone’s doing it — including Forbes, Apple, Google, Nike, and probably every pro sports team you can think of. But why? And should you do yoga in your office?
Studies show that yoga at work brings a number of really important benefits. Some are personal to each employee, improving their overall health and happiness; as well as giving them the opportunity to learn something new and fit small on-the-yoga-mat achievements into their day. But other benefits are valuable to the business as a whole.
Of course, we love yoga. We know how good it is for body, mind, and soul. So if it’s possible to bring yoga to the people and start offering classes to your employees or colleagues, we say go for it!
Yoga protects health at work
Working in an office usually means sitting in one position for long stretches of time. Sitting at a desk, in particular, is associated with several specific health concerns, including:
- Back pain, ranging from mild discomfort to chronic pain
- Muscle weakness
- Poor eye health
- Wrist pain or syndromes including Carpal Tunnel
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic disorders
Yoga helps to relieve even severe physical pain. And crucially, it’s an effective preventative tool to ensure that team members never have to experience work related pain at all.
As well as being very good for the people in question, this also adds value to the company. It means less sick days, higher productivity, and a more vibrant and energetic workforce.
Yoga helps to manage work fatigue
Studies show that sitting for more than 5 hours at a time has a similar negative impact on health as smoking 5 packs of cigarettes. Our bodies are made to be moving; we are not built to sit on chairs all day.
Extended periods of sitting also reduce productivity — making you more likely to stare absently into space than work conscientiously.
Adding yoga classes into the working day helps to break up work hours, and adds some vital movement and a change of perspective. But more than that, once a group of people in an office start to learn yoga from their teacher, they will gain the tools needed to interrupt their own static hours. They will know how — and why — to stand up, refocus their eyes, and take a deep stretch every now and then.
Yoga is amazing for stress
What do people complain about most often when it comes to their office life?
Stress. It’s estimated that stress is the reason for 90% of all visits to the doctor; and having high levels of stress hormones in your system without relief can cause serious mental and physical health problems.
Stress at work is down to lots of different factors; including pressure, dissatisfaction, and difficult relationships with colleagues.
Yoga is incredibly effective at reducing the experience of stress. It acts directly on the nervous system, soothing body and mind. And it teaches actionable breathing and movement tools to manage stress in any moment — not just during class.
In addition, yoga classes at work are brilliant for team bonding. If your team are struggling to get along and regularly enter into conflict, or just generally find it hard to work together, there’s nothing quite like getting them all in one room to breathe and move as a collective.
Yoga boots cognition and creativity
The focus and calm awareness cultivated during yoga practice has a powerful impact on the brain. Researchers have found that yoga enhances cognitive abilities; improving concentration, memory, and creativity.
One study in particular, published in the journal Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience in 2018, found that people who practice yoga regularly develop a different brain structure.
Using brain imaging technology, the researchers looked at the brains of 13 experienced yoga practitioners in contrast with a control group of people who did not do yoga. The yoga group showed greater grey matter volume in the left hippocampus, and less activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
What does that mean? The yoga practitioners had better working memory and a greater ability to manage stressful situations.
A positive work culture is good for everyone
Overall, introducing yoga classes in the office helps everyone feel better. It’s a simple but effective way of supporting team members’ health and well-being, and gives them a space to release difficult emotions within the workplace setting.
By accessing a more steady state of health and brain function, people feel more confident and engaged. More empathetic, and willing to accommodate the perspectives of those around them. And crucially, more relaxed.
All of this contributes to a more positive work culture. And if people want to come to work, they are better at their jobs.
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