Tracing its roots through antiquity, yoga is a discipline commonly practiced for mental, physical, and spiritual reasons. While the newcomer may picture a master Yogi contorting her or himself on an isolated hillside, quietly meditating and counting heart beats, the modernization of yoga has taken this practice from cardio intensive to P90X style strength training, simple breathing exercises, and anything between – including many stretches that can be performed at work. This is an incredible way to increase focus, boost energy, and reduce stress.
What problems do you have in your workplace? Office issues often manifest into categories of communication problems, harassment, or gossip. Yoga may help these sorts of issues. The benefits of such practice not only calm the body physically, but encourage a mindset and environment of serenity, peace, and cooperation.
Why Yoga Helps
While there are many ways to fit a yoga routine into virtually any lifestyle, the various approaches typically focus on physical awareness, selflessness, mindfulness, peace, and wisdom. On a practical level, this exercise can reduce stress, help with those employees suffering work-related aches and chronic pains, and enhance office culture.
Additionally, yoga can relax your employee’s minds, give them a break to restore their intent, and allow them get in touch with their inner selves. That last one may sound a bit abstract, but if stress and anxiety are bombarding employees, problems with communication and harassment may be solved by understanding personal issues, taking a breath, and looking at the surrounding environment before acting. This can lead to more cooperative, peaceful interactions.
Interested in instilling these qualities in your workforce? Luckily, it can be done without even getting out of the office chair – though there are many other office-friendly ways to incorporate conservative, professional yoga moves to break up the grind and put your best foot forward.
A quick note before starting – a worker won’t get anywhere if she or he is holding on to pent-up stress and rushing through these stretches. For best results, take a breath. Pay attention to your body and its surroundings. Take your time and try to match these motions with the natural flow of calm breathing.
Yoga From an Office Chair
These basic moves are a wonderful place to start. They are ideal for beginners, can be performed without even taking a formal break, and can be done privately from an office space or cubicle. Here are some moves to practice:
- Warm up with Neck Rolls. Sitting up tall, start by pausing and listening to your body. Are you tired? Frustrated? Angry? Breathe in and exhale these corrosive feelings. Focus on the rising and falling of your chest.
Next, mindfully lower your chin to your chest – but don’t fall asleep! Pause for a few seconds, paying attention to your breathing, then tilt your chin toward the ceiling. Repeat this as needed, and incorporate lateral motion next. Look as far to the left or right as comfortably possible, turning your head and holding the stretch before switching.
Finally, incorporate the full range of motion, gradually lowering your chin to your chest, looking right, raising your chin to the ceiling, looking left, and returning to center. Do this carefully and deliberately without moving your shoulders.
- Seated Cat/Cow. This is often done on all fours, but it is easy to do from a chair as well. Start facing forward, feet hip-width apart and resting flat on the floor. Hands can rest comfortably with palms flat on the tops of your legs or knees. Breathe out slowly, arching your back. Allow your head to naturally turn toward the ceiling as you stretch. Exhale, and return to the starting position – you’ve just finished your cat!
The cow motion is an inverse of cat. Starting on an exhale, slowly draw your stomach in toward your spine. At the same time, shrug your shoulders toward your ears and let your head drop naturally.
- Forward Fold/Flat Back. This is another essential element of traditional yoga that is easily adapted to a seated position. You may need to scoot the chair back from the desk before starting. Begin sitting upright with head facing forward and your feet wide enough to allow you to lean forward comfortably. Tuck your elbows into your sides, but stay relaxed.
Like cow pose, draw your stomach toward your spine. Exhale, bend from the hips, and reach down to a point that’s appropriate for you – whether that’s the floor, behind the ankles, or resting on the knees. From here, you can go into flat back by slowly transitioning to an arched back, letting your chin rise naturally. Try to keep your hands in the same position from the forward fold.
Incorporating Yoga in the Workplace
An entrepreneur is now convinced of the benefits of yoga, eager to come in Monday and integrate a new routine in the workplace. What’s the best way for her or him to introduce these plans? Luckily, there are plenty of options for a custom-fit solution:
- Go with a strong CTA. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I like this, let’s try it.” You can share these examples or look for more of a group experience. Some yoga instructors are willing to come by and lead a class for the whole office. Check for these resources in your area.
- Take the subtle approach. If you’d rather see how the group takes to it on their own, mention it casually or put up some information about yoga around the office. Who knows? Employees may pursue classes on their own!
- Lead by example. If all else fails, lead by example. Practice these simple moves, research some new ones, and talk about it – not to convert new followers, but simply to share your passion. It’s likely your coworkers will notice your attitude and try some yoga, too.
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