Yoga is an ancient practice dating back thousands of years, but researchers in the West are only just catching on to the many ways yoga can reduce stress, heal aches and pains, and keep sickness at bay.
One study found that 57% of employees who said they were very stressed at work felt less productive and disengaged, compared to only 10% of low-stress employees who reported feeling this way*. Weekly yoga classes can be a fun, effective and low-cost way to get employees moving more and stressing less. Here are 5 benefits of yoga in the workplace.
1) Improved flexibility = Reduction in aches and pains – Flexibility is often the first thing that springs to mind when you think of yoga, and quite rightly so. Improved flexibility is likely the first improvement you will notice with weekly yoga practice. But being able to touch your toes is more than just a party trick, with the gradual loosening of muscles you might start to notice that aches and pains disappear too. Yoga deliberately targets areas like the hips, hamstrings shoulders and neck, in other words the muscles that become tight from prolonged sitting, hunching and stress. What’s more, stretching has shown to release endorphins (happy hormones) and reduce the production of cortisol (stress hormones).
2) Activation of the Parasympathetic nervous system = A sustainable way to manage stress – Many of us are living in a chronic state of sympathetic nervous system (SNS) overactivation – the body’s active, adrenaline-fuelled, Fight vs. Flight response. While the SNS can be helpful in certain situations, long-term activation has been associated with anxiety, depression and chronic stress disorders. Yoga classes work on activating the PNS (parasympathetic nervous system), AKA the rest and digest system. Activation of the PNS has been shown to lower stress, conserve energy, reduce blood pressure, strengthen the immune system and lift mood. The PNS can be activated at will through methods like mindful breathing this is used in yoga. With repeated practice, we can develop new sustainable habits to become more relaxed off the mat, even in stressful situations.
3) Increased muscle strength = Reduced risk of injury – Strength is more than just aesthetics, being physically strong is essential for feeling good in your body and being free of pain. A strong and healthy body helps us to navigate through life with ease and can make daily tasks less laborious than they need to be. Our own body weight is used in yoga to grow strength, stability and flexibility in a safe and sustainable way. The added benefit of using body weight means that exercises learnt in class can be easily practised at home too!
4) Improved posture = Improved self-esteem – Our posture effects our body image, how others perceive us and even our ability to breathe properly. Researchers in New Zealand found that good posture can positively impact your mood, self-esteem and even your response to stress**. Yoga is the perfect exercise to correct posture, especially for those who are used to sitting for long periods. In fact, the reason I began practising yoga was to improve my posture and I've seen a dramatic improvement over the years. Yoga works on areas like correct alignment, flexibility of the spine and strengthening the core, and has been shown to be one of the best exercises to improve posture***.
5) Improved bone health = Less chance of fractures – Weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones and help to ward off osteoporosis and yoga is no exception. Many yoga postures require you to lift your own weight, downward and upward-facing dog for example, strengthen the arm bones which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporosis fractures. What's more, the lowering of cortisol (stress hormone) associated with yoga practice, may help to keep calcium in the bones****.
I've picked just 5 of the many reasons yoga can improve your overall health & wellbeing. If you're a company that's interested in improving the mental and physical wellbeing of your employees why not get in touch for a brochure. I offer different programmes depending on your business size and requirements and can provide all my own equipment.
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*Source: Tower Watson