The Benefits of Yoga in the Workplace

How to make yoga work for you, no matter what your profession.
For some, yoga is a way to get centered before heading off to work. For others, yoga is how they unwind after a hectic day behind a desk. More and more, however, employers are incorporating yoga into the workplace culture. The time-honored practice proves beneficial not only to the mental and physical wellness of employees but to companies’ bottom lines as well. Here are some of the benefits of yoga in the workplace.
 
Less Pain

Work can be a pain in the neck. And the back. And the head. Yoga loosens tight muscles and connective tissues in addition to building strength. That combination means your joints are more lubricated and better supported, resulting in less stiffness and pain. Over time, you become more flexible and you can move in your body more comfortably. Specific poses can also address common office worker complaints like low-back pain, tight hips, and neck kinks while preventing against arthritis and other chronic pain conditions. Yoga can also restore your natural posture, which is often compromised after too many hours in an office chair.
 
Increased Relaxation
Thanks to the deep breathing and present-focused nature of yoga, your body moves from fight-or-flight mode to a state of relaxation. Like a muscle, the more you practice this shift, the stronger your relaxation response becomes. By incorporating a yoga routine into your professional life, you’ll approach your to-do list with a calmer mindset and less resistance.
Also Read: Develop Your Own Home Stretching Routine
 
Elevated Energy Levels
Sitting for long stretches of time is a total energy suck. Taking time to do a full yoga class before lunch, or even just shorter breaks for a few poses throughout the day, gets the blood flowing, floods you with feel-good endorphins, lengthens muscles constricted by sitting, and brings you back to a calm state of mind. A study from the University of Waterloo found that just 25 minutes of Hatha yoga can elevate energy levels. More energy means higher productivity, a result your superiors are bound to notice.
 
Stronger Immunity

The stronger your immune system, the fewer sick days you’ll have to take (and the less likely it will be that you will infect a co-worker with a nasty virus or vice-versa). Yoga reduces levels of cortisol, also known as “the stress hormone,” a major culprit of illness. Pranayama, or yogic breathing, further conditions the lungs, which helps prevent respiratory conditions and keeps sinuses healthy. Yoga also thins the blood, helping guard against heart attack and stroke. Wouldn’t you love to be that employee who everyone says “never missed a day” when your retirement party rolls around? Then get on the mat!
 
Clearer, More Creative Thinking

Yoga, especially when combined with meditation, declutters your brain. With practice, yoga and meditation will slow down your thoughts, reduce negative self-talk, increase your confidence, and help you pause before reacting. Yoga may even open the floodgates of creativity; when your mind is clear and your body is relaxed, your whole being is like an empty container primed to receive new, fresh ideas. You’ll also be more receptive and less reactionary to your colleagues’ suggestions. Conference calls and board meetings have nothing on you after a yoga session!
Also Read: The Best Meditation Apps For You
 
Fewer Mental Health Issues

Yoga does a body good on so many levels, but did you know it’s also beneficial to the mind? Studies have shown that yoga is effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, in part because a regular practice increases amounts of serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter. Unlike medication, practicing yoga is free, immediately effective, and has no unsavory side effects. Yoga is also more accessible and less time-consuming than talk therapy, making it an excellent self-care strategy for those who suffer from mental health issues. Yoga in the workplace is akin to mental health care – sans the stigma, hassle, and cost.
 
Improved Morale

Happy individuals make for happier teams. In the same way one person’s bad mood can infect their co-workers, the peaceful, contented aura that arises after a yoga session will also spread from one employee to the next. If supervisors, who tend to set the tone for company culture, embody a blissed-out yoga vibe, their subordinates are sure to replicate it. A study published in the Ayurvedic research journal found that 10 weeks of yoga and mindfulness resulted in less aggression and a more positive affect in study participants. Engaging in a regular yoga practice with your colleagues will help you see one another in a context beyond your usual professional roles and increase the bond among team members.