Asanas Are Trending

“Breathe in.”

Eyes closed. Back straight. Mind as blank
as you can make it…

“Breathe out.”

Feel your muscles relaxing. The negativity
draining away. The tension dissipating…

Corporate wellness programmes are quickly becoming a strategic imperative from an HR point of view – as they rightly should be – but perhaps one discipline has had the most impact on the corporate world.  Yoga. The 5,000 year old physical, mental and spiritual practice is finding favour in offices from Berlin to Beijing.

An increasing number of corporations are making funds and
space available for yoga classes on their premises. The benefits of workplace
yoga have been seen not merely on an employee’s health and wellbeing, but on
the organization as a whole.

In fact, Johnson
& Johnson did a study that showed that the return on their wellness programmes
was $2.71 for every dollar spent – this means the company saved $250 million*
on health care costs over the course of a decade. It should be noted that
nearly 50% of employee illnesses are lifestyle-related, so in theory they are

The trend has gone
beyond installing a gym in the office, or offering to cover fitness centre
membership fees. Wide-appeal wellness programmes that can be held in office are
the norm today. And many companies feel that corporate yoga is a cost effective,
preventive and holistic healthcare measure. And yoga is being seen as a winner
by HR people looking for significant returns on their wellness investments

Many Benefits of Workplace Yoga

Corporate yoga can show almost immediate results in some areas – like physical improvements – while mental gains tend to show up after a sustained period of time. Benefits usually include:

* Relief of head, neck and back strain,
carpal tunnel syndrome and high blood pressure symptoms.

*Relief from stress and negative

*Improved concentration, multi-tasking
and decision-making ability.

*New perspectives of work and higher
levels of creativity.

*Enhanced alertness and energy levels.

*Calmer reactions in demanding

The stress-busting aspects of yoga have
been traced to its effects on the parasympathetic nervous system, which
conserves energy by slowing the heart rate, relaxing certain muscles and
increasing gland activity.  Stilling the
mind promotes inner reflection and heightens the awareness – leading to new
perceptions and fresh creative solutions.

Corporate yoga benefits individuals in
different ways, but a sustained programme certainly reduces absenteeism due to
illness and results in higher energy levels – a key indicator of workplace

Employees often develop a more positive
outlook and this reflects in their work – particularly so in areas like
customer service.

Workplace Yoga Working For You

So how do you get a yoga programme running
in your organization?

Start small. It’s easy to find a corporate
yoga trainer online. Pick someone who suits your budget and who will take a
small class for a short period, say one hour.

Get the trainer to come to your office –
perhaps to just one department if it’s a large office – and do a one hour
training programme. This will introduce employees to the entry-level techniques
and the philosophy behind yoga. 

If you have spaces available like a lounge,
a terrace or a canteen, well and good. Otherwise the yoga trainer will tell you
what space in your office is viable.  If
things are very tight, some exercises and meditation can be done at employee

It is important to get feedback from this
initial session. Do people see value in it? Is the trainer a motivator? Then
you start rolling out the programme to other departments and other offices in
your company.

Starting workplace yoga is not the hard
part; sustaining it is. Employees are only human, and often succumb to work
pressure (or sheer inertia) and yoga takes a backseat, till it’s entirely
forgotten. One solution is in having the trainer come in at regular intervals,
on a weekly or monthly basis – this introduces more asanas and the trainer’s
inputs keeps enthusiasm alive.

Another way is to have keen employees champion
workplace yoga – these are people who get others to join in and prevent them
from dropping out. Identifying and motivating these keen practitioners could be
very beneficial to the company.

There are yet other ways…but in any case,
yoga classes should be supported by other yoga tips, diet facts, and meditation
guidelines. Ideally this information is disseminated in a newsletter, a website
or through internal communications. And you will have reached the pinnacle when
workplace yoga becomes a movement within your company.

In today’s health conscious corporate
world, workplace yoga is going to play an increasingly large role – and the
smart HR executive should start leveraging it now.


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