By Mia Barnes for Yoga Medicine.
You might draw a few quizzical glances if you start stowing a yoga mat under your workstation. However, practicing a few asanas between crunching numbers could help your on-the-job performance.
Yoga has an impressive array of health benefits, including lowering high blood pressure and improving overall coordination. It can even help you maintain emotional regulation, preventing maladaptive behaviors that can derail your career.
Should you skip the smoker’s bench and do a few sun salutations on your break instead? Here are five benefits of practicing yoga in the workplace.
1. It Helps You Cope With Workplace Stress
Do you get a feeling of dread that grows in your belly each Sunday afternoon, developing into a roaring tiger by midnight that makes you want to hide under your covers each Monday morning? If so, you know the toll excess stress can take on your career. It’s hard to muster the right mindset for being an integral member of a winning team when you feel like you’re running on empty.
Unfortunately, many people cope with workplace stress in maladaptive ways that hinder their career trajectory — and ironically create more of the pressure they wish would ease. For example, drug and alcohol use increased by 12% during the pandemic as tensions rose.
Substance abuse can quickly lead to a downward spiral that causes on-the-job mistakes, costs you promotions and even gets you fired. You might have to start over for lower wages, making life even harder if you were already struggling.
Yoga is the ultimate stress reliever with no negative side effects. The gentle movement moderates your stress hormone levels while deep breathing taps into your parasympathetic nervous system response — the side of your central nervous system responsible for rest and digestive functions.
2. It Fights Fatigue
Work can make you tired — that’s no surprise. However, ongoing fatigue increases your risk of mistakes and on-the-job accidents.
Fortunately, a lot of the fatigue in modern offices stems from remaining stationary for too long. You can ease the tension and increase your energy levels by doing a few chair spinal twists and warrior poses. The physical movement gets your blood flowing, delivering oxygen to your brain cells to refresh your energy levels.
3. It Eases Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can take a toll in the workplace. Anyone who has tried balancing a budget report with a raging migraine can attest to this phenomenon.
Fortunately, the right yoga poses can ease chronic pain, often as effective as medications and without the mind-dulling side effects. For example, hugging your knees to your chest can stretch your lower back and ease discomfort, and taking a Yin-style sphinx pose can counteract the effects of slouching over your desk.
4. It Bathes Your Neurons in Oxygen
Every cell in your body requires oxygen to function at its best, including the ones between your ears. Physical activity increases your respiration rate, meaning your brain cells get more of the life-giving stuff.
If you only master one yoga move, make it the standard sun salutation. This asana moves you to the floor and up again like a burpee, only you get flexibility benefits added to the mix. Plus, you don’t have to jump, making this activity more friendly to arthritic joints. You’ll also raise your heart rate, increasing your cardiovascular fitness while getting a little breathy.
5. It Improves Your Attitude
You don’t see many angry, grumpy people coming out of a yoga class. That’s because this form of mind-body exercise is the ultimate attitude adjuster.
Physical activity gets your body to release endorphins, juicy little proteins that act like opioids without the addictive tendency to ease pain and improve your mood. Additionally, uniting your breath and body movements promotes a deep sense of inner calm. Mastering challenging poses improves your sense of agency, the idea that your actions make a positive difference in your world. You’ll be ready to go toe-to-toe with the most discriminating client after the mindset adjustment a good session brings.
Reap the Rewards of Yoga at Work
Do you take a yoga mat with you to work? Engaging in your practice before or after your day begins — or on your break — could make a difference in your career.
Consider these five benefits of practicing yoga in the workplace. How can you bring a little mind-body fitness into your day and supercharge your performance?
About the Author
Mia Barnes is a health and wellness freelance writer with a passion for covering topics related to yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine. Follow Mia and Body+Mind on Twitter and LinkedIn!