The Benefit of Yoga in the Workplace
Studies have shown that employees who implement movement and exercise into their daily routine, reduce the detrimental effects of sitting for long hours at a desk and are much happier, calmer, more productive and resilient to work challenges as a result.
Yoga, in particular, is hugely beneficial, as it is good for the body, mind and soul and even five minutes of yoga, if done properly, can have a significant positive effect.
Here are some of the incredible ways that yoga can help you at work:
- Alleviates physical tension caused by sitting at a desk
It is unnatural for humans to sit for such long periods, particularly with our heads and shoulders bending forward and as a result, we develop all sorts of aches and pains throughout the body. Yoga can help to release this tension by realigning the body back to a more natural and healthy posture.
- Increases energy and reduces fatigue
Yoga stretches, especially when combined with deep conscious breathing can help to calm the nervous system. Stress triggers the adrenal glands to become overactive, sends the body into a fight or flight response and uses up so much energy! Yoga has been shown to reduce this stress reaction and free up energy within the body.
- Improves concentration and focus
Have you noticed how difficult it is to focus when you are feeling stressed and overworked? This is because our brain starts to shut down from overwhelm. Yoga helps to free and calm the mind of mental clutter. Mindful movement and deep breathing, floods the cells in our body with fresh oxygen and energy and as a result, we feel clearer, reinvigorated, more alert and better able to focus.
- Promotes positive relationships
Tolerance to interpersonal challenges can be difficult when we are feeling stressed. It is easy to flare a temper or take things personally when we are out of balance emotionally. Yoga greatly alleviates stress and brings us back into a much calmer state of being. It has been shown to increase patience, tolerance and understanding towards others and can result in a more positive attitude towards co-workers and life in general.
So many reasons to take a little time out of your workday to do some mindful stretching!
We know that it is not always possible to fit in a full yoga class during the day, so we have put together a few simple yoga stretches that you can do amidst a busy work schedule, in 10 minutes or less! These stretches will alleviate stress, release tension in the body (in particular the neck, shoulders and lower back), give your mind a break and your mood a much-needed lift.
10 Minute Yoga Sequence to do Amidst a Busy Work Day
- Cat/cow in your chair. Place your feet flat on the floor, hip-distance apart. Place your hands on your thighs. As you inhale arch your back and gaze upwards, feeling your back and neck creating a ‘c’ shape. As you exhale round your spine the other way, allow your tailbone to tuck underneath, push into your lower and middle back and feel your shoulders and neck round forward. Moving with your breath, repeat 3 times each way.
- Seated sun salutation variation. Place both hands in prayer position at your heart, close your eyes and breathe deeply. On an inhale, release your prayer, drop your hands to your sides and then sweep your hands with palms facing upwards into a prayer position above your head (arms straight), look up at your thumbs. Exhale bend your elbows and bring your prayer down in front of your face and back into a prayer position at your chest. Moving with your breath, repeat at least 3 times.
- Seated twist. Sit with feet hip-distance apart, knees directly over ankles with your feet facing forward, in a parallel position. Inhale to lengthen your spine and feel yourself reaching through the top of your head. On the exhale pull your navel in and twist to your right-hand side, gaze over your right shoulder. Place your left hand on the outside of your right thigh and your right hand on the back of your chair and deepen the twist. Hold in this position for 3 breaths. On the exhale to come back to a forward-facing position and then repeat on the other side.
- Spinal bend and roll. Sit upright in your chair with your feet parallel. On an inhale reach your arms above your head and interlace your fingers, arms stretched. Exhale side bend to the right, inhale come back to centre and exhale side bend to the left, inhale come back to the centre. Interlace your hands behind the back of your head, cradle the base of your skull, open your elbows. Inhale lift up and lengthen your spine and arch back, gazing upwards allowing your neck to curve backwards. Exhale bring your elbows parallel and curl and round your back, pulling your head towards your belly. Repeat 3 times.
- Standing forward fold. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and feet parallel. Take a deep breath in, and gently roll your spine down, one vertebra at a time until your torso is folded forward against your thighs, your head is heavy and your neck is long. Grab hold of each elbow with the opposite hand and allow yourself to hang heavily in this position. Take 10 deep breaths in this position. Release your elbows, soften your knees and gently roll yourself upright.
By now you should be feeling a lot more zen!
Mostly, yoga brings us back into the present moment through breath, intention and mindful movement. It is within the present moment that true happiness and personal power resides, so make sure to prioritise your wellbeing because ‘when we’re happy, we can thrive in our work,’ says Elena Brower.