“Yoga is a light, which once lit will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter your flame.” — B.K.S. Iyengar
International Yoga Day is just around the corner. And what better time than this to discuss the importance of health and fitness, especially during the ongoing pandemic? Offices are slowly reopening as people are getting fully vaccinated and workers have returned to their respective workplaces. Corporates have realized that the struggle is real. Covid19 or not, companies worldwide have already started implementing corporate wellness programs - one of which is introducing yoga in the workplace.
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A healthy workforce directly translates to increased productivity and decreased employee absenteeism. The benefits of introducing an employee wellness program are manifold. Besides improving employee health, such programs help employees become more satisfied and motivated in their work and personal lives.
Suppose you are an employer concerned about the health of your employees. In that case, the first step you should take is to create a workplace wellness program for your organization.
Yoga in the Workplace: An essential addition to a company's employee-wellness program
Yoga is a practice which companies are starting to include in their company's wellness programs.
Having health benefits that have been proven throughout history, yoga has been gaining prominence in workplaces worldwide. The demand for corporate yoga has risen so much that many yoga teachers and instructors provide their services specifically for corporate offices.
There are many benefits of incorporating Yoga in your workplace. From increased energy levels to increased productivity, here are 14 corporate yoga benefits -
Relax with Savasana.
1. Increased Energy
In our daily lives, while trying to balance work and family life, we often become victims of a sedentary lifestyle. Working for 6-8 hours every day decreases blood circulation and creates stress which causes fatigue and lowers energy.
Any physical exercise, even moderate stretching, has been known to increase blood circulation and help produce energy. Through its dynamic movements, yoga increases blood flow throughout the body and helps reduce fatigue.
Moreover, simple yoga exercises and stretches can be done at your workplace for short periods to achieve the benefits of Yoga.
2. Reduced Stress
There is no denying the fact that long hours at work can be very stressful. Stress is one of the major factors which affects workplace productivity and employee health. Companies have to face substantial monetary losses because of the ill effects of stress.
Organizations also see an increase in employee absenteeism, turnover, workplace accidents, and decreased productivity. This is why it is imperative for employers and employees alike to adopt ways to reduce stress in the workplace.
Yoga is one of the best ways to combat stress and its adverse effects. It has been shown to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. Taking time out to do a little yoga can significantly reduce stress and eliminate all the associated aspects.
3. Increased Confidence
Being physically fit and flexible creates confidence in a person. The yoga exercises and poses are designed to make people more flexible while improving their muscle strength and cardiovascular health.
When a person becomes more robust and more flexible, he is confident in his own body. This confidence slowly transfers over to all aspects of his life.
4. Improved Posture
Corporate employees spend most of their time sitting in chairs for long hours, hunched forward to stare at their computers. Oblivious to them, this unnatural position is detrimental to their health. It can cause back and neck pain which could further hamper their productivity.
In fact, back pain is one of the main reasons why people take up yoga. Yoga can help relieve pain through its stretches and poses. Its poses stretch major muscle groups and help increase flexibility to prevent stiffness and joint aches.
5. Better Immunity
Unlike weight training or other exercises that only focus on your body's specific parts, yoga benefits every aspect of your body.
Regularly doing yoga strengthens your immune system and stimulates your lymphatic system to oust toxins from your body. It aids in blood circulation, bringing oxygenated blood to the internal organs to help them function optimally. It also helps in stress reduction and eliminating aches and pains.
So, encourage your employees to spend some time practicing yoga regularly. Also, they are less likely to take sick leaves and be more productive at work when they are healthy and fit.
6. Increased Focus
A stressful corporate life with crunching deadlines, heavy workloads, and endless meetings can create mental clutter, hindering your employees' decision-making. It can impede their ability to concentrate on the tasks at hand.
The poses and meditation of yoga can help clear away this mental clutter, helping your employees be more alert, focused, and productive. Yoga also improves blood circulation in the brain, improving brain function.
Moreover, yoga and meditation can teach your employees to have a still and focused mind. This is a handy skill to have in a demanding work environment.
7. Improved Breathing
Yoga and meditation allow people to be completely aware of their breathing. There are breathing exercises in yoga that teach how to inhale and exhale deeply. Deep breathing increases lung capacity and increases the amount of oxygen in the body.
When your employees have more oxygen in their bodies, it makes them more energetic and helps them fuel through the hectic work schedules. The lack of oxygen can cause many problems such as nausea and tiredness. Therefore, your employees must learn to breathe correctly to attain sufficient oxygen.
8. Increased Morale
Being stressed at work causes frustration and anger among employees, causing them to be less motivated and less productive. When your employees are physically and mentally unwell, it will hamper their morale.
With its stress reduction properties, yoga is beneficial in elevating your employees' mood and keeping their anger at bay. It is a great way to improve mental and physical health, helping them be more motivated and confident.
With all its benefits, yoga boosts morale which will help create a harmonious workplace. So, conduct a yoga class for your employees to promote its health benefits and foster a healthy workforce.
9. Increased Creativity
Yoga increases focus and concentration among employees, making them more productive. With increased concentration and better focus, creativity also follows.
Practicing regular yoga supports and broadens creative expression. It refines the inner emotions, balancing the mind, body, and soul. This results in a clear animation of creative expression in an employee, helping him complete tasks creatively and innovatively.
10. Better Flexibility
Being flexible has lots of benefits, such as lower blood pressure and reduced chronic joint pain. It also prevents injury and helps to improve posture.
Yoga poses require a great deal of flexibility, and with lots of practice, it increases your employees' flexibility. Also, by increasing flexibility, they learn how to apply it in other aspects of their lives. They learn how to go with the flow of things and not get worked up about little things. Situations that felt hard and inflexible do not feel so rigid anymore.
11. Better Digestion
A corporate lifestyle usually means sitting all day without any physical activity. And corporate employees mostly eat unhealthy junk food items, which can cause digestive problems, among many others. Digestive issues can affect decision-making and decrease productivity.
Yoga has many postures that can aid in heartburn, indigestion and decrease acidity when done correctly. These postures can boost your employees' metabolism and help in detoxification, helping them lead a healthier life without worries.
Avoid performing yoga immediately after meals.
12. Lesser Absenteeism
When an employee feels stressed, his performance is hampered. Being stressed also leads to physical injuries and musculoskeletal pains such as back pain and health conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Doing yoga improves health conditions and relieves one from any kind of pain or discomfort. As a result of this, employee absenteeism due to sickness or any other health problems decreases. Simultaneously, there’s an increase in employee morale and productivity.
Incorporating yoga once or twice a week at the workplace can significantly decrease stress and absenteeism.
13. Lesser Irritability and Aggression
Yoga relaxes the body and calms the mind. A calm person reasons and is not angered by any stimulus. Also, a stress-free and calm person tends to have a positive outlook on life and less likely to be involved in counterproductive work activities.
Stress-free employees are more likely to be productive than employees who are not. Such employees will function harmoniously and handle incidents of hostility with a calm and rational mind.
This is one more reason why engaging in one or two yoga sessions every week is beneficial to workplace productivity and employee health.
14. Increased Productivity
Yoga benefits not only the physical health of your employees but also benefits your workplace in many ways. Yoga increases energy levels and boosts employee morale, making them more productive in their work.
Also, when your employees are free of any kind of pain or health problems, they will be present more often. And be more attentive, focused, and productive.
Things to consider before starting a Corporate Yoga Program
There are certain ways and strategies involved before going forward with some plan. Even when it comes to implementing yoga programs at work, it is no different.
Here are some of the basic keypoints to keep in mind prior to executing the program.
1. Assess the level of Interest
What is the point of practicing yoga at work if employees are not even a tad bit interested in it? So, before going forward with the yoga plan, ensure that most employees are up for it.
You can discern this by sending an email to the workforce, asking them to confirm their participation and interest.
2. Hire a Yoga Expert
The most crucial part is to find a well-trained and capable yoga professional. You would want your employees to get access to the best teacher possible. So, it is advised to have someone on board with experience of around five years or so.
Also, virtual yoga is a real thing now. Those online yoga sessions are highly beneficial as they enable you to hire someone from the other corner of the world. Thanks to the Internet.
3. Personalized Conversation
Practicing yoga with colleagues is good, but you must allow your employees to have a one-on-one conversation with the yoga instructor. Because both pre-assessment and post-assessment sessions are needful for this will lead to progress in performance. The attendees ought to take something positive at the end of each session.
4. Session Duration
Two months with a total of 20 classes work just fine. But you can modify it as per your budget and other requirements. A 45-minute yoga session is all your employees need to practice the asanas properly together with breathing exercises and meditation.
Also, make sure you fix the yoga schedule when all the employees are not busy with their work. Because they should be able to relax while practicing yoga. If they are anxious about pending tasks, there is no point.
As an employer, the only thing that concerns you is that yoga is designed to establish wellbeing in your organization. And, you have to offer these sessions in a safe and comfortable environment.
The ultimate goal of yoga in the workplace is to develop optimal health, increase productivity and boost the performance of the entire workforce.
Women should not try yoga asanas during their menstrual cycle.
Ways to include Yoga in your regular Work Routine
Employers have multiple methods to incorporate yoga in their workplaces. But when it comes to employees, there are certain simple ways.
If you are a stressed employee looking for a time-out from work, try to inculcate a yoga break in between work. Take yoga breaks and embrace that relaxation your mind and body seek.
The one thing you can do anytime and from anywhere. Scheduling meditation breaks is considered a primary task if you want to disconnect yourself from work.
Take a 10-minute meditation break and focus on your breathing and close your eyes. Slowly, practice the various breathing exercises right there, sitting on your desk. If you want a change in place, you can always go to the conference room because it is all quiet in there.
2. Yoga poses
I am not asking you to start practicing yoga poses all of a sudden, just anywhere. Infact, you can try yoga sitting on your chair, which is also known as desk yoga.
Yes, you heard that right. A simple spinal twist while sitting can also contribute to physical wellness. So here let me tell you a little about the sitting exercises.
Chair twist: You have to sit straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Put your right hand on the back of your chair. Now bend towards the right while using your left hand to rotate your spine. Now, try the same with the other side for maintaining balance.
Heart opener: Sit at the edge of your chair while keeping your feet on the floor. Taking your hands behind your back, intermingle them. Now inhale, pushing your knuckles towards the floor and chest upwards.
As we know, yoga is all about asanas and meditation, but we fail to realize that there is more to it. Taking a 30-minute time off work to go out someplace and inhale some fresh air can be a part of meditation.
If the place is some nearby park, one can practice breathing exercises, and some easy yoga poses there. But taking this break at untimely hours is sort of a hassle. Therefore, use your lunch break and fully utilize it.
Step off your desk, go out somewhere peaceful, try some simple yoga poses before eating your food.
4. Other Desk Exercises
We spend half of our days at work, sitting in a chair and staring at that computer screen. Even if concentration in work is essential, it can be arduous for our bodies.
So, here we bring you the extended version of some light yoga exercises, which will take less than 2-minutes.
Also, it does not require us to move away from our desks. This is why these are also known as desk exercises which we have already mentioned before.
1. Shoulder rolls
- Sit straight
- Lift your right shoulder near to the ear
- Roll your shoulder around, dropping it away from the ear
- Do the same with your left shoulder
- Repeat it three times alternatively
- Lift both shoulders near your ears
- Take a deep breath in
- Now exhale, dropping your shoulders away from the ear
Repeat it five times
2. Chest stretch
- Sit on the edge of the chair
- Intertwine the fingers behind you with your palms together
- Tilt forward with the arms held high in the same pose. You will feel the stress on the chest
- Now, take a deep breath while lifting your chest
- Release the breath and drop your shoulders
3. Neck exercise
- Sit tall without the chair's back support
- Lift your head a little
- Drop the right ear on the right shoulder
- Breathe in, breathe out. You will feel the stretch on the left side of your neck
- Do the same on the left side
4. Twisting arms
- Sit straight without chair support
- Extend your arms out in front on the shoulder level
- Stick the right elbow into the crook of your left arm
- Wrap your forearms with the back of your hands facing each other
- Try to place your left fingers on the right palm
- Take a deep breath
- Return to normal
- Repeat the same with the opposite side
How does yoga make you happier at work?
Yoga is not just every other workout. It has a lot to do with the mental health of people. As per the research done in Occupational Medicine, it is shown that yoga programs at work positively affect the mental condition, most importantly, reduces stress. It helps develop patience, awareness- things which go beyond the spectrum of physical health.
Oftentimes, it is seen that people who practice yoga and meditation are emotionally resilient and calm individuals. And why not?
Yoga develops that sense of peace in them. And when the mental health of employees is fine, coping with anxiety and stress becomes more effortless. Also, it leads to physical wellbeing as well as psychological and physical health are interconnected. One affects the other.
So, why not introduce yoga in the workplace?
THE BOTTOM LINE
Incorporating yoga into your employees’ lives can improve their mental and physical health. The poses of yoga can help reduce physical pain, workplace stress and also decrease absenteeism.
With energy levels increased, your employees will be more productive and motivated to work. Moreover, a yoga program is a cost-effective one that will require only 10-20 minutes of your employees’ time daily to reap its full benefits.
So, waste no time to incorporate and reap the benefits of yoga at work.