For The New Workplace, Yoga Replacing The Watercooler

Article by Linda Adams

The buzzword these days in the business world is multi-tasking. Dealing with a client on the phone, answering a seemingly endless stream of email and creating a spreadsheet are considered much-needed skills in the office of today. It may be a big asset to a businesses’ productivity, but it’s also a big cause of workplace strain and stress.

So it makes sense that adding yoga into the workplace routine has become a well-received option.

Many of today’s top corporations are, indeed, adding yoga to the list of options for employees. With the ever-increasing importance of computers in the workplace, along with handheld devices that allow you to take the “office” with you anywhere, workers are becoming more stressed than ever in their quest to get the job done. But company officials are noticing that a stressed employee soon becomes a less productive employee. Enter yoga in the workplace.

As employees handle more and more tasks, and spend more and more time in the office, the question of how to keep them alert and productive has become an important issue for many employers. And yoga has emerged as a convenient, cost effective and universal way to achieve this goal.

A growing number of companies has started bringing yoga instructors into the workplace in recent years, scheduling yoga sessions throughout the workday to accommodate those employees with different schedules. Whether it’s in a company gymnasium or that conference room down the hall, yoga classes have been cropping up in companies of all sizes.

The beginnings of yoga in the workplace, as far as the U.S. is concerned, started approximately 25 years ago when the increase in health care for workers led many companies to created programs designed to promote well-being, such as smoking cessation programs, on-site gyms and yoga. But since that time, companies have found out that the stress-reducing benefits of yoga are far outweighing the benefits of lower health care costs.

According to a trend analyst, corpo rations soon discovered that programs aimed at promoting an employee’s mental condition was just as vital as those that addressed their physical condition. Meanwhile, a clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center found that yoga, in conjunction with meditation, reduces stress and actually improved workplace performance. Further, an Ohio State University research project concluded that only 20 minutes of yoga and meditation in the workplace, as well as six weeks of once-a-week group yoga sessions lowered stress by approximately 12 percent and even improved the quality of sleep in some workers, making them more productive at the office.

The office surroundings are a perfect place for a yoga class, according to work researchers and yoga experts. They point to the often uncomfortable work environment – hard-backed chairs and the harsh computer glare – as well as the need to perform repetitive tasks. For many of those workers, they experts say, their only relief comes during breaks for lunch, which usually consists of a nearby fast-food restaurant, leftovers brought from home or the office vending machine. Add to that the pressure of trying to meet a deadline, handle last-minute assignments that were due yesterday, answer a seemingly endless stream of emails or figure out the inner workings of a printer that just won’t print anymore, and the stress levels of the average office worker can go through the roof.

To relieve this stress, many corporations began bringing yoga into the workplace. For some corporations, it meant converting a space in their existing gym, while smaller companies managed to make their conference rooms and lunch areas serve a dual purpose, simply by moving tables and chairs to one side. It proved to be an entirely new way of life for many yoga instructors, who not only had to attempt meditation exercises with the whirr of a Coke machine in the background, but were also dealing with employees at different levels, from beginner to experienced, or who weren’t exactly dressed in trad itional yoga clothing (think ties or work overalls).

The benefits of adding yoga to the workplace became readily apparent and soon other companies began to adapt to the growing trend. Today, many modern corporations have regular paid yoga instruction in the work place in specially designated areas. For instance, Apple and Google have regularly scheduled yoga classes at their home offices at various times of the day, and even after work. And at HBO corporate headquarters in New York City, the demand for yoga classes at work has become so great they’ve had to add additional classes.

It may be impossible to get workers to scale back from the belief that multi-tasking at work is a must, and indeed many companies may be reluctant to get them to do so. But when it comes to coping with the stress that results from it, they may want to add yoga in the workplace to their to-do list.

About the Author

Linda Adams enjoys all things health related.

One of the most excellent yoga websites Linda has found is Kamloops Yoga Teachers, which is a exceptional mix of yoga and exercise.




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