How can corporate yoga nourish your soul?
As major companies continue to gain a greater understanding of the connection between the wellbeing of employees and commercial success, corporate wellness is becoming an increasingly important priority.
Yoga is a system of practices originally developed in ancient India for the purpose of cultivating physical, spiritual, emotional and mental wellbeing. Today, yoga is practised by millions of people worldwide, and has been reported to have beneficial effects on stress levels, anxiety and high blood pressure.
Although the concept of corporate wellness has been gradually evolving for more than a century, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that the subject attracted major corporate attention. Johnson & Johnson’s Live for Life program and articles in The Journal of Occupational Health explored the costs of employee illness and absenteeism, and the psychological wellbeing of staff.
As more studies were published and increasingly ambitious workplace health initiatives were developed throughout the 1990s, the corporate wellness market grew into a booming industry by the early 2000s. This has coincided with an increase in the popularity of yoga, which was reported to be one of the 10 fastest-growing industries in the US in 2012.
With the workplace wellness industry predicted to grow to US$66 billion by 2022, and a growing number startups embracing a re-invented, holistic approach to health, corporate yoga programs are enjoying greater popularity than ever.
Benefits of corporate yoga
Many of the publicised benefits of yoga are particularly relevant to workers in an office environment. Yoga is reported to have beneficial effects on stress reduction and sustained attention, as well as potentially lowering blood pressure and the production of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Practising yoga for corporate wellness may assist in reducing the risk of stress-related health problems ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to eye strain and headache. The importance of musculoskeletal alignment means yoga also may help improve the posture of workers seated at a desk for most of the day, and may also assist in alleviating lower-back pain.
As a less painful alternative to paintball, corporate yoga wellness programs can be used as team-building activities. Practising yoga with your colleagues can foster camaraderie, loyalty and motivation among co-workers.
Corporate yoga may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Back pain
- Balance, stability and coordination
- Blood pressure
- Brain fog and clarity
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
- Circulation and cardiovascular conditions
- Concentration, focus and problem solving
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Energy and vitality
- Flexibility, endurance and strength
- Headaches and migraines
- Immunity issues
- Insomnia and sleep disorders
- Mental health
- Mobility and movement
- Motivation and procrastination
- Muscle spasm, tightness and cramps
- Nervous system and neurological conditions
- Posture and spine issues
- Respiratory and breathing issues
- Stress and tension
- Weight control and obesity
What to expect from a corporate yoga session
Corporate yoga pricing generally depends on the chosen duration. A session usually takes from 30 minutes up to an hour. Many instructors provide a mobile service that they set up in your office, while others hold studio-based classes tailored to corporate clients.
Corporate yoga classes are designed to cater for all levels of fitness and flexibility. Most instructors place a high priority on offering a diverse variety of options ranging from calmer, more meditative sessions to strenuous programs. Your practitioner will begin with a consultation session to evaluate your needs as well as those of your co-workers, and devise a suitable program to cater for everyone.
Unless you’re visiting a corporate yoga studio, be sure to prepare enough floor space for the class. Practitioners offering a mobile service often provide mats, blocks and any other equipment required. It is usually recommended that each class has no more than 20 participants to let each individual have enough one-on-one contact with the instructor.
Similarly to other forms of yoga, the usual class format begins with a guided breathing exercise or focus technique, followed by a warm-up, a sequence of yoga poses, and a relaxation or meditation session.
As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing corporate yoga. If you have an injury or other health issue, or any concerns at all, also speak to your corporate yoga instructor, who will be happy to address these and take them into account when developing your program.