These days any company worth working for will have workplace wellness at the very forefront of their minds. You see as our working hours increase and therefore so too does the time we spend sitting and staring at a computer screen, it goes without saying that our health and general wellbeing starts to deteriorate too.
Which is where office yoga comes into play.
Now, no one’s telling you to jump up and start busting out some downward dog moves on your desk, jeez I’m not sure Alan in accounts heart could take it quite frankly, no office yoga is all about gentle movements and stretches that can be done at your desk, sat on a chair, or within a small office space.
Problems such as a stiff neck, lower back pain, tight hips and shoulders are all common complaints experienced by people who spend the majority of their working day sat at a desk. And whilst you could have the best, most ergonomically designed workplace known to mankind, it’s still not as good as getting up and moving every 30 minutes or so.
However, office yoga has so many more benefits than physical health alone, just take a look at all of these:
Yoga not only helps to realign and stretch out the body, but it gives the mind a good old refresh too. It’s a bit like pressing the restart button, it allows you to refocus, recharge and this leads to clarity, concentration and creativity. And it’s these three things that are at the top of every employers wish list when it comes to what they want, and expect, from the ideal employee.
Working without taking regular breaks is incredibly counter productive and can result in the brain becoming clouded and it starts to slow down as a kind of fight back mechanism. Standing up and moving around improves blood flow, which in turn helps keep the oxygen flowing smoothly and efficiently throughout the body and, most importantly in terms of productivity, to the brain.
Ahhh good old team building exercises, there’s nothing quite like it for boosting morale and alleviating any inter-office grievances. However, it’s no longer all about devising plans to cross a river with just a piece of wood and some rope, no the ultimate in team bonding has got to be office yoga. Come on think about it, a bunch of people who let’s face it only know each other because they’re forced to share the same room, all bending and stretching, feeling slightly self-conscious. It’s totally awks right? But then you catch someone’s eye, you start to snigger, then giggle and it’s catching isn’t it, and suddenly the whole rooms laughing. Hello, office bonding! Listen, yoga is great, but you gotta have a bit of fun with it as well I say and laughter is absolutely incredible therapy, in fact these days laughter yoga is a big thing.
Posture, it’s word that get’s thrown around a lot these days isn’t it, especially in terms of office wellness – there’s big money in ergonomic chairs I tell ya. But without wanting to preach, good posture is at the very core of the health of our bodies and office yoga can help with this in a significant way. Many yoga moves are centred around the core, and it is our core that is the structure and support system of our body. Strengthening the core helps to elongate the muscles and joints, making us more flexible and mobile and reducing any tightness. There are various stretches and poses you can do whilst sat at your chair, although perhaps you should follow this up with a walk around the office floor, or even better step outside for ten minutes or so.
OK so yoga isn’t going to provide the answer to all of your stress worries, but it’s certainly going to help! Taking the time to a) breathe b) focus on something other than work and c) move you away from your desk is tantamount to dealing with the build up of tension that is associated with the onset of stress. And let’s face it, work can be incredibly stressful right, so what perfect way to unwind, rebalance and put those stress demons to bed.
An employer’s worst nightmare is having a bunch of employees who call in sick all the time. We’ve all done it right, hungover as hell…”ummmmm I can’t come in today I’ve got ummm…. food poisoning”, go on you know you’ve all done it. OK so yoga isn’t exactly gonna get you out of a fake sickie, but it can help boost your immunity making it stronger and more capable of fighting off bugs. Offices with air conditioning are the absolute worst for this as they simply act as a germ breeder and then kindly circulate around for the entire workforce to enjoy. Yoga helps fight against this by activating the immune system and getting the blood flowing, think of it a bit like a health super hero if you like. So it’s a win win situation really, the employee get sick less and the employer has higher attendance rates.
Sitting down for hours on end only getting up for the occasional trudge to the kitchen to make a cuppa is hardly doing you any favours. Even worse if you don’t even get up to have your lunch, and I know there’s a whole load of you who are guilty of that! Mindlessly eating stodgy sandwiches at your desk, aside from being the most unenjoyable food experience ever, is playing havoc with your digestive system. A healthy digestive system does not include heartburn and indigestion, but these are exactly the kind of problems you could be encountering if you are a desk diner.
Have you ever been to a yoga class where someone’s let out a dirty great fart, well that’s proof right there about how yoga helps unblock these *ahem* internal tensions.
Anyone Can Do it
Don’t give me any of your excuses about having a bad back, anyone and everyone can do yoga, it’s all about scaling it down to what you and your body can physically manage. And don’t give me any of that bunkum about not having the right gear, or not wanting to get tangled up in your tie, because simple yoga stretches can be done without the need for a mat, you don’t need to don the lycra and in fact you don’t even need to start omming and ahhing. All you need is a bit of willingness, maybe the side of your desk for balance and a big case of getting over yourself.
Office yoga is an activity that can be done solo or as a group. Plus it may even be that you’ve fancied giving yoga a go for while, but have felt too intimated to go to an actual class, well this is a fab introduction.
One important factor to bear in mind is that although a little bit of stretching might seem easy, yoga is a form of exercise and it’s essential that it is carried out properly to avoid injury or further strain. Ask your employer whether they would consider bringing in some yoga gurus to take the team through their paces or alternatively do your own research online. This video from office furniture company furniture-work.co.uk offers some great ideas and advice from health experts of the ways in which you can introduce office yoga into your daily work routine.