We all know that yoga is great for both the body and mind as well as alleviating everyday aches and pains. But is it something that should be practiced at work?
According to a recent study by the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, the answer is yes. The study goes on to show evidence that yoga helps to promote higher levels of productivity in employees as a result of lowered stress levels and a more focused and positive work environment.
And, big and small companies are taking note, with the likes of Apple, HBO, Google and Procter and Gamble already incorporating classes into its corporate wellness programs for employees.
So, if you’re considering yoga at work for you or your team, here are 5 great reasons why you definitely should.
It’s proven, yoga at work can help with stress and anxiety reduction. Several recent studies have shown that it helps the mind to control reactions to external stressors – especially when coupled with effective breathing exercises. The effects were positive enough for Aetna’s management team to incorporate it into the company’s corporate offering. Taking one the company’s most stressful divisions, Aetna tested a wellness package for its employees and reported a 7% reduction in health benefit costs.
Alleviates Muscle Pain
Although today’s workforces are more informed than ever about the negative effects of a sedentary workplace, there are still teams that are still tied to their desks for hours at a time. This can lead to an increase in physical ailments like chronic back pain and neck strains. But there’s hope. According to the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology study, those that practiced yoga saw a reduction in back pain – when they practiced yoga for 50 minutes per week (either in one session or two separate sessions). So, either try to squeeze in a midday session or try out some stretches at your desk to stay limber and healthy.
While stimulating the body’s natural functions and depletion of internal toxins, yoga also helps to stimulate production of a critical amino acid known as GABA. GABA acts as a neurotransmitter for the central nervous system, with increased levels helping to control excitability while promoting muscle tone – and leading to a calmer self. It doesn’t hurt that some research now shows that regular yoga practice can help to elevate GABA levels by over 20 percent.
Improves Morale/Positive Thinking Patterns
And, yoga isn’t just great for aches, pains and mood. Regular practice also creates positive thinking patterns that can lead to a more enlightened and productive outlook. Recently, researchers indicated yoga as a great way of releasing endorphins in your body. Increased levels of endorphins in the body helps to calm nerves, while boosting confidence and awareness – akin to a ‘runner’s high’. This helps practitioners to keep a positive mindset throughout their day, while staying strong through those negative disruptions.
With yoga’s widely known centering abilities, it’s no surprise that evidence is mounting of higher cognitive ability in practitioners. Specifically, a study out of University of Illinois showed that practicing for only 20 minutes drastically supported a practitioner’s speed and accuracy when it comes to working memory and informational retainment. The study attributes the performance increase to self-awareness that can be attained through regularly scheduled sessions.
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