"Bringing your whole self to work" has never had a more valued meaning. Our whole selves come with the stress, anxiety, and uncertainty that shapes our daily life. With self-care being such a key component in our happiness and 42% of workers now identifying a work/life balance as the greatest source of stress in their lives, research shows that a holistic approach to workplace mental health is crucial to supporting the whole self.
With ever-increasing work demands and rising workplace stress, employers are now understanding the importance of workplace health and wellness. A healthy workforce directly translates to increased productivity and decreased employee absenteeism. This is why it is imperative for employers and employees alike to explore ways to reduce stress in the workplace.
Thankfully, many companies around the world have already started implementing corporate wellness programs to promote awareness among their teams. We are now seeing an increase in consideration for workplace health and wellness offerings such as yoga and meditation in the corporate sector.
Because, who doesn't value those moments of stepping away from their desk, closing their laptop, taking a breath, and switching off from the world to invest in some much-needed self-care?
Benefits of Yoga in the Workplace
A holistic corporate wellness program goes further than a simple "Employee Incentive" program. Instead of addressing our mental health once it becomes an issue, it's becoming increasingly important to seek preventative methods, aiding mindfulness, stress management and mental health support.
Normalizing workplace yoga is a productive step and so, so simple to implement. Yoga practices can be performed anywhere and take a variety of forms, making it a versatile and easily accessible tactic.
Alongside its convenience, yoga is also a great way to refresh and rejuvenate, delivering a whole host of wholesome benefits:
Surge Energy Level
Regular movement, including passive stretching, helps increases blood circulation, reducing stress and fatigue and giving you that much-needed boost of energy ahead of the 3pm 'slump'. Yoga is a journey of dynamic movements and so great at increasing blood flow throughout the body and revitalizing your vitality and rejuvenating your mind.
Regress the Stress
Stress is one of the major factors that affect our health, mental wellbeing and productivity. Regular yoga practice is one of the best ways to combat stress and the negative effects it can have on us, day to day. Taking time out of the working day to do a little yoga can greatly reduce strain and eliminate all the pressure associated with it.
Boost Fitness Levels
Being physically fit feeds into every aspect of our lives. The feeling of a powerful, strong body gives you the confidence to take on the world. The exercises and poses within yoga are designed to make people more flexible while improving muscle strength and cardiovascular health. Build this confidence and let it evolve into a wonderful, confident lifestyle.
Fix That Posture
Many of us spend far too much time hunched in chairs for long hours, staring at our screens. We may not feel it now, but our back and neck are taking the brunt of the load, and it's something that could seriously impact us in later life. Yoga is a wonderful way to strengthen our muscles, from our toes, through our core and up to our neck. The variety of poses and movements stretch and lengthen most muscle groups, helping increase flexibility and loosening our joint pains. Perfect for undoing the stiffness inflicted by sitting at that desk all day. Also, by increasing flexibility in our physical health, we can apply it in our emotional wellbeing, too -- Perhaps situations that felt hard and inflexible before, won't feel so rigid anymore.
Regular yoga practice is a great way to strengthen your immune system and stimulate your lymphatic system to expel toxins from your body. It aids in blood circulation, bringing oxygenated blood to the internal organs to help them function optimally. It also helps in stress reduction and eliminating aches and pains.
Make Your Mood
We all feel those moments of stress, anxiety, fear and sometimes, downright grumpiness. (Remember those, "No one talk to me" days?). With Yoga being such a positive part of stress reduction, this inevitably helps elevate your mood and motivation. Yoga helps create space for you to be calm, confident and creative.
Yoga relaxes the body and calms the mind. A calm person thinks rationally. A calm person has a positive outlook on life and less likely to be involved in counterproductive work activities. Yoga practice can allow you to function harmoniously with fellow teammates and handle incidents with a calm and rational mind.
It's so easy to resort to the closest, most convenient food choices, especially during a busy day. This unfortunately then tends to be junk food. Processed, fast food is always the hardest foods to digest, and we all know how digestion problems can slow our flow and concentration. Yoga has many postures that can support aiding heartburn and indigestion. With detoxifying postures that can boost your metabolism, yoga helps to lead a healthier life, worry-free.
Isn't this what we all strive for, a productive day. There's no better feeling then rounding off the day with a completed To-Do list and that feeling of satisfaction. A weight has been lifted. If only we could feel like this every day...! Yoga increases energy levels and boosts employee morale, making them more productive in their work.
Focus Your Attention
We all need a break from our mental clutter. Think deadlines, heavy workloads, seemingly endless meetings...this clutter can weigh down your day and hinder your decision-making. It impedes our ability to concentrate on tasks at hand. Yoga can help clear away this mental clutter, helping your employees to be more alert, focused, and productive. It also improves blood circulation in the brain, improving brain function.
Benefits of yoga and meditation in the workplace
Meditation and Yoga fit together perfectly, but independently also can make a great impact on your overall well being.
It's easy to get lost in our thoughts or allow them to control our actions and emotions, especially if they're negative. Meditation helps us practice being mindful of the present moment and to take a step back from our thinking and emotions -- acknowledging and observing them, instead of just following them.
Mindfulness meditation increases awareness -- and greater self-awareness can generate greater compassion and presence. By enhancing our ability to be fully present and awake in the "now", we can feel and be freer and live life more fully and authentically by letting go of that which does not matter and holding onto only what does.
Meditation refines the inner emotions, balancing our mind, body, and soul. It requires us to sit and pay attention to, and focus on the breath for long periods without allowing the mind to wander or become distracted.
This can become a powerful training tool - When your mind is conditioned to allow it to be quick to notice when the mind wants to wander or has become distracted, it will be that much easier to return the focus to the important task at hand.
Ever lay in bed at night, thinking about all the tasks you need to get done the next day? These intrusive thoughts can invade healthy sleep patterns, impacting your mood, focus and productivity. Studies have proven time and time again just how important sleep is for our wellbeing. Meditation could be a valuable tool you have been looking for.
Practising 10-30mins of meditation earlier that day can help calm and clear the mind of thoughts that persist at night and prevent us from falling asleep. With meditation, you can create the conditions for a good night's rest before heading to bed with specific guided practices focusing on sleep.
Meditation practices have also been shown to increase melatonin; a hormone that plays a very important role in the regulation of sleep. So, as well as blissfully clearing the mind before bed, the benefits of meditation include helping the body release the right chemicals to help fall peacefully asleep quickly and naturally.
*"Mindfulness is about love and loving life. When you cultivate this love, it gives you clarity* and compassion for life, and your actions happen in accordance with that."
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Center for Mindfulness in Medicine
Self-awareness towards Self-love
Regular meditation can give you a much better sense of self-awareness. Once one trains themselves to become better at recognizing the kinds of thoughts that enter their minds regularly, they can begin to identify patterns, notice where the mind likes to wander to, or just how self-critical and judgmental we can be to ourselves.
Being self-aware of this can allow you to be more patient with yourself, and maybe even a little more compassionate towards yourself. It's very easy to be hard on ourselves. But with a little self-awareness, we can understand that it's just a habitual thought that enters our minds, not actually who we are as a person or a reflection of us.
Holistic practices, including meditation and yoga, provide so many practical and emotional benefits that can support and bring a sense of actually being present and feeling calm and in control of our day. Yoga and meditation can be a liberating experience as part of your lifestyle, and effective tools for becoming more attentive, focused and productive. And ultimately, to feel good.
The costs of corporate yoga or meditation
At-home flexible solutions have been quoted as now "imperative for the health of a business and its people". For businesses who do not already have these considerations in place, perhaps now is the time to set out a formal approach to employee mental health and wellbeing. It can start with simply trialling opportunities for yourself, then introducing or implementing them within your workplace.
The first step towards acknowledging your present and training your mind is the easiest one to take -- by following a guided online session, with a qualified yoga or meditation instructor from wherever you are in the world. There doesn't automatically need to be a cost attributed - In fact, VIVAYA are currently offering 14 days complimentary membership, so you can explore introducing online yoga classes or virtual meditation practice to your working day.
From there, you have a plethora of opportunities within corporate yoga, meditation or overall wellness. Specialist Corporate programs can be created and tailor-made to best suit your employees' needs -- from as simple as discounted corporate yoga classes, to an entire corporate yoga proposal, that provides employees with independent online access to the holistic practice or class of their choice.
Ultimately, we should remember that people deal with things in different ways. Everyone is experiencing their own challenges during this time and will need to find what works best for them in terms of self-care. As businesses and advocates of corporate wellness, the more accessible you can make workplace wellbeing to your employees -- the greater the health, happiness and morale of your workforce.