Medical science continues to emphasize just how unhealthy the average desk job can be. For years dangerous jobs were thought to be in construction, manufacturing, and law enforcement. Little did we know that desk jobs were slowly killing us all along! Sitting is killing us. Lack of sunlight is killing us. Poorly maintained HVAC systems are killing us. Filthy phones and keyboards are killing us. Oh, and let’s not forget stress. Stress is a top cause of chronic illness and injury in the workplace. In the long run, stress and anger impose tremendous health care costs on employers and employees.
As employers recognize the potential impact stress can have on their bottom line many are implementing employee fitness programs and fitness education into their workplace culture. The thinking here is that less stressful employees will be more productive and less likely to require time off due to sickness or injury.
One activity that has really taken hold in the corporate workplace is yoga. The benefits of yoga are varied and workers at various levels of fitness are able to participate in this low impact exercise. By promoting awareness of one’s stress, stress can be better controlled and alleviated.
How does yoga alleviate stress? Yoga helps you focus on breathing and links movements to breath. This intense focus on breathing and poses pulls focus from daily stresses. In short, focus on the present moment will help you temporarily forget about your impending deadline and give your mind a rest.
Yoga also helps employees with weight management, flexibility, pain management, and improved breathing. Recent studies show that yoga increases levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, which lifts mood and helps fight depression. The improved flexibility helps with pain and stiffness from sitting at a desk all day.
Cardiovascular benefits are a part of yoga practice where participants see lowered resting heart rates and improved oxygen uptake.
Yoga and other workplace fitness programs also have social benefits to employees. A yoga session can create a bonding experience between colleagues and potentially allow them to connect with a common interest in becoming mentally and physically healthier.
Offering yoga classes at work is an inexpensive solution for companies of all sizes who are looking to increase productivity, reduce workplace stress, and make employees happier. If your workplace doesn’t offer a workplace yoga program there are usually local studios and gyms that offer introductory programs. The Internet also has plenty of blogs and videos that can teach you basic moves to start you on your way.