Yoga in the office

30 Nov Yoga in the office

It might be hard to imagine a 3000-year old art be of use in the modern work environment, filled with computers, electronic appliances, and inside huge office blocks. The fact of the matter is that Yoga is not only useful but becoming more so with time. There is a reason that it has stuck around so long and has also gained massive popularity in all cultures.

Businesses like Jason L are waking up and smelling the coffee around this issue. Annually, businesses report in the hundreds-of-billions of dollars in revenue lost due to absenteeism and work-related injuries/disabilities. The long hour’s office workers spend in their chairs (often with bad posture) is one of the main contributors to many ailments that creep up and fail the modern workforce.

Here are just some of the negative effects:

  • Back pain
  • Inadequate blood circulation leading to cardiac risks
  • Increased stress and anxiety
  • Higher chance of office spats and higher levels of tension
  • Less self-care
  • Less motivation 

Many studies have shown the short and long term benefits of simple stretches, breathing exercises and exercise routines for office workers. Just standing up and walking to the coffee machine or up and down the office at regular intervals are already a huge step in the right direction.

The answer then seems simple enough, so why is this still such a big problem?

What makes exercise in the office hard?

  1. Ignorance: Although huge strides are being made to push healthy practices in the workplace, few people still know or understand the real implications of not applying these practices. The benefits are also still highly underrated.
  2. Embarrassment: Many people would simply feel too shy to stand up regularly and do stretches in front of all their colleagues, which is understandable.
  3. Lack of facilities: Most offices do not have an area for physical activity, much less exercise equipment. Depending on your location there might also be no gym within a reasonable proximity.
  4. Not enough know-how: Even should one know about the risks and benefits, what can you do about it? Few big businesses have employee health guidance and most wouldn’t know where to begin.

How does Yoga overcome these challenges?

You might be scratching your head wondering what can be done about this situation. None of them seem easy to overcome at first glance. The first two can only be tackled through informing the corporate world at all levels. Employees and employers need to be made aware of the importance of promoting a healthy work environment. Not only from a humanist perspective but a financial one too. As the implementation and practice of health policies become more commonplace, the misconceptions around them will start to go away. Hopefully, it can become the “new normal.”

Yoga has many characteristics that make it the perfect solution to overcome these obstacles. Let’s look at them more closely:

  1. No equipment – For most Yoga poses, movements and techniques you don’t need any equipment. If you want to move to more advanced techniques a simply Yoga mat will do. These are inexpensive and easy to transport and store.
  2. Subtlety – We will show you some more subtle Yoga techniques that don’t require you to go into odd poses that draw attention. In fact, some just require you to breathe and hold your body in a certain position.
  3. Easy to do – You don’t need constant teaching and hand holding. Simple techniques and routines are easy enough to learn on your own. One or two workshops should be more than adequate to get everyone going.
  4. Accessibility – You don’t need to be fit or young and supple to start doing Yoga. Yoga comes with routines for old and young, any range of flexibility, and any fitness level.

As you can see Yoga seems to be perfect if you want to get more active in the workplace. The good news doesn’t end here. Let’s look at the benefits of Yoga

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga boasts an impressive list of benefits for your health, which in turn translates to higher productivity, which leads to a better bottom line for any organization. Yoga is truly a holistic healing technique and has beneficial to the mind, body, and soul.

Benefits for the mind

Avoid burnout

Employees in highly stressful jobs or that work jobs which can sometimes entail working extreme hours are at risk of simply burning out. These employees have reported that Yoga helped them avoid this by promoting self-care, emotional stability, and mental strength.

Improved confidence

As with most physical activities, Yoga increases confidence. Confidence is a key factor to staying positive and in turn, productive. A can-do attitude is also beneficial in most real life situations.

Focus and concentration

Through meditative and breathing exercises Yoga promotes mindfulness. Many people believe this conditions them to put their focus on a specific task and tackle it at full capacity.

Benefits for the body

Pain relief

Not only will getting up and moving reduce the onset of aches and pains, but Yoga itself has amazing qualities when it comes to pain relief.

A study published in Occupational Medicine has found that not only can Yoga alleviate back pain, but had a whole host of other positive effects on their behavior and mental state.

More energy

One major factor that increases energy is the improved blood-flow. Finally, the all-important oxygen can get around your body to where it is needed because Yoga improves your breathing. Lastly, Yoga facilitates the release of cortisol hormones that help keep up energy levels.

Benefits for the soul

Stress relief

Stress is the boogeyman when it comes to office productivity. Stress and anxiety attack not only your mental faculties like focus and mood but also exasperates physical problems. Yoga has been known to reduce stress in the short-and-long term.

Friendlier work environment

By getting rid of a whole host of stressors in the workplace, Yoga also indirectly affects levels of tension in the workplace. General hostility has been shown to lessen as an effect of office Yoga.

Yoga exercises perfect for the office

Before you begin it is important to loosen or get rid of anything tight or uncomfortable. For example, if you are wearing a tie, belt or constricting shoes you might want to loosen or take them off.

Now, take a deep breath and let’s look at some subtle techniques you can practice from your chair.

Temple rub

  1. Place your elbows on the desk and your temple against the palms of your hands
  2. Rub your temples in small circles slowly
  3. Switch between clockwise and anticlockwise after 10 or so breaths

Ankle to knee

  1. Sit straight and make sure all your joints are at 90°
  2. Lift your one foot and place the ankle on the opposite knee
  3. You can lean forward for a deeper stretch
  4. Switch feet after a few breaths

Cow stretch

  1. Sit straight with all your lower body joints at 90° and your hands on your knees
  2. Inhale while simultaneously pulling your shoulders back and looking up
  3. Hold for a few breaths and then slowly exhale while leaning forward and dropping your head

High altar pose

  1. Inhale deeply
  2. Stretch your arms above your head
  3. Clasp your hands and lock in your fingers as you turn your palms upward
  4. Stretch from one side to the other, holding the pose for 5+ breaths per side

Spinal twist

  1. Sit on the edge of your seat
  2. Hold your back straight and twist to one side
  3. You can use a hand on the back of the chair or armrest to deepen the twist
  4. Take a few breaths in each pose as you go from one side to the other

Cow face arms

  1. Reach up your back with your one arm
  2. Lift your other arm and reach down to clasp hands, your arms should form a diagonal line
  3. Hold the pose for a few breaths before switching sides

The good old neck roll and stretching your wrists by bending your fingers to your forearm and giving them a shake are also valuable additions.

See, easy isn’t it? Making a habit out of using these simple techniques and incorporating it into your daily office routine can have remarkable benefits for your physical and mental health, work performance, and general happiness. There really is no excuse to get started today!

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Victoria Brewood

Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

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