What's the problem?
Motivation can be fleeting. Especially when you are supposed to be motivated about sitting behind a desk and staring at a screen for 40 hours a week. Many have resigned themselves to dragging themselves to work and begrudgingly trekking through their workload day in and day out with little to no motivation or purpose. Employees are truly living to work and not working to live. Our careers have become the focal point of our lives, regardless of the cost.
Having a career has become more demanding and more stressful than ever, and it shows no signs of slowing down. We know it all too well. Workers are under constant pressure to be the best for fear that if they take a break or slow down they will be surpassed by their peers and competitors. This increase in competition leads to many health problems, both of the mind and body. In particular, work related stress leads to depression, chronic illness, and dramatically reduced work performance. It may or may not surprise you that these negative side effects actually cost businesses big time. Pushing employees past their limits results in well over $260 billion dollar losses each year. Whether it be absenteeism, lack of motivation and productivity, or employee turnover, businesses are hurting. This problem has caused many businesses to explore new solutions and tactics. This has led many companies to the incredible benefits of bringing yoga into their offices.
How can yoga help?
Many of us spend so many hours of our day sitting, hunched over a desk with eyes glossed over a computer screen. A recent study showed that sitting for 4 or more hours a day dramatically reduces productivity, focus, and overall work performance, not to mention the physical health effects. In fact, the results say that prolonged sitting has the same health effect as smoking a pack of cigarettes. Seriously. And that’s only part of the problem. Sitting all day also causes pain. What may seem like a little annoying tightness at first can quickly turn into chronic, debilitating pain. And we all know when we are in pain it is very difficult to focus on anything else, especially our work. Practicing yoga as little as one a week can significantly reduce back pain and keep it from coming back. There is really no way around it; study after study after study have proven the same thing - sitting all day is terrible for your health.
And it’s not just being sedentary that will hurt your work. Working all day without regular breaks also creates stress. Not to mention the countless other stress-inducing aspects of work. Deadlines, meetings, tension among co-workers, competition - it is tough to focus on your work when you’re constantly being pulled in different directions because of your emotions. Yoga naturally increases serotonin production. This combined with yoga’s objective to “be in the present moment” allows practitioners to relate to their surroundings and circumstances in a more positive way. This will result in more positive interactions towards co-workers and difficult tasks.
Yoga and meditation techniques teach your mind to be more peaceful, alert and productive. Studies show that this mindfulness doesn’t only last on days where you practice yoga. One study in particular proved that practicing yoga for as little as once a week for just 30 minutes resulted in prolonged feelings of calm, focus, and motivation. And it doesn’t stop there. Yoga is also proven to increase creativity, clarity, and mental alertness to name just a few of the many benefits.
Is there a way to prevent it?
It is all well and good to eliminate stress, but it would be better if we could prevent it from controlling our minds in the first place. Yoga teaches practitioners stress management and trained office yoga instructors have an arsenal of know-how and skill to bring this to the corporate world. Everyday stressors that used to make you want to hide under your desk, take a nap, and forget about the world, won’t seem quite as overwhelming. That irritating coworker who won’t quit bragging about himself suddenly won’t get on your nerves as much. Yoga teaches employees how to see life’s obstacles objectively and help them to gain perspective. It truly incredible how your life can change once your mind begins to change.
What if I only have a few employees?
Yoga benefits all companies, regardless of size or industry. Many top businesses have taken advantage of yoga’s benefits, and there is a steady increase in those offering classes in their offices. Forbes, Aetna, GE, Apple, Google, GM, Chase Manhattan Bank, eBay, HBO, GM, Nike, numerous professional sports teams; they all have office yoga classes. Yoga provides office workers with powerful tools to help them reach their full potential.
Work-life balance does not only mean the balance between your day job and your social life; it means balance while you are at work. Improved stress management, alleviation of pain, improved focus and concentration, kickstart to creativity, and balanced energy are just a few of the ways employees who practice yoga are better workers.