What is Yoga?
Yoga, in its simplest terms, is a form of low-impact exercise with one of its main purposes being to ‘create union between body, mind and spirit, as well as between the individual self and universal consciousness.’ (yogapedia.com) With its roots believed to have begun in Indian culture, the ‘word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning “to yoke,” or “to unite”.’ (yogapedia.com) With yoga being the umbrella term, over time it has branched into many forms, such as prenatal yoga (designed for pregnancy), Bikram yoga (involving heat) and Hatha Yoga and has become popular in many countries worldwide. See https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286745#types for the varying types and their potential aims/benefits.
The benefits of Yoga
Yoga can help both mentally, emotionally, and physically. With its ties in wellbeing, yoga is potentially a form of exercise for the masses, as it requires nothing more than a mat, some floor space and a small amount of time. Unlike the more energic HIIT classes in favour today, yoga can be tailored to suit the individual, with their unique fitness goals and to their own schedule. As Women’s Health Magazine succinctly state, ‘yoga is less about doing headstands and much more about building mental and physical strength and cementing healthy habits for life.’ Whilst some might think that yoga is out of their physical remit, with difficult, hard-to-hold positions and complicated poses, it is actually not the case. Yoga is not a one-size-fits-all exercise, and, according to Maria Toms, Assistant Practitioner Physiotherapist, writing for The British Heart Foundation, ‘in fact it’s best not to strain yourself – the word asana (the Sanskrit term for yoga postures) means posture comfortably held.’
How can you introduce yoga into the workplace?
Bringing yoga into the workplace can be hugely beneficial in a number of ways. To begin with, there is the importance of finding a work/life balance. Employers could take opportunities to highlight the importance of individuals stepping away from their desks for a short period of time. This will not only encourage the employee to take check of their emotional health and wellbeing, but it will also encourage them to keep track of their own physical fitness. Maria Toms writing for The British Heart Foundation, goes on to state that ‘Yoga can help you to cope with stress and improve wellbeing as well as helping develop flexibility, strength, balance and co-ordination.’
It can be introduced in a plethora of ways, either via individual desk exercises that can be done ad hoc, or through lunchtime group classes, which encourages employees to make full use of their lunch hour. It can also be introduced via an employee organised workshop, or through designated wellbeing days designed for employees, such as ‘World Mental Health Day’ which takes place annually on the 10th of October.
What is desk yoga?
It is well known that sitting in one position for long periods of time is not beneficial and can encourage general aches and pains that come from being sat at a desk. Remaining sedentary for long periods of time is unhealthy, but in modern-day times, is it commonplace for employees to spend long intervals sitting behind their desk. Desk yoga is an opportunity for the employee to practice simple yoga poses, which can stretch the muscles and give the individual a moment to take a time out from their work. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy website offer a variety of desk yoga exercises, such as ‘the desk stretch, the leg stretch, or the wall press’ and give instructions as to how to perform these exercises. See their website for more details
Desk yoga is something that works for both the office and those working from home. It is flexible, free and can provide the individual with an opportunity to re-set, re-fuel, and re-focus, thus benefiting both the employee and employer.