Are you a yogi? There’s a good chance you are because the practice is booming. Around one in three people have experienced the benefits of yoga at least once. There are thought to be some 300 million yoga practitioners around the world, who attend classes twice a week on average.
In 2016, the number of yoga practitioners in the US increased by almost 50%, while in the same year, ‘yoga’ was one of the most-searched-for terms on Google in the UK. The number of over 50s practicing yoga globally has tripled in the past half-decade.
Accessibility to older participants is undoubtedly one reason for the surge in yoga’s popularity, as is the ever-increasing range in styles. No longer limited to Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Vinyasa, you can now find hot yoga, heavy metal yoga, beer yoga, nude yoga, dog yoga, aerial yoga, goat yoga, and many more… so there really is a style for everyone.
One of the main drivers of yoga growth is its popularity amongst companies and employees, attracted by the combination of a physical and emotional workout. In fact, if you want to increase the effectiveness of your workforce, integrating yoga could well be one of the best ways to do that.
The 8 benefits of yoga for employees
1. Improves general fitness
The idea of heading out for a run or hitting the gym, filled with those super-fit types, is off-putting for a lot of people who fear that they won’t be able to keep up. Yoga is much gentler and more accessible, while also providing aspects of cardio and strength training. Studies show that, as such, it can help reduce lifestyle illnesses like heart disease. That means healthier employees who miss fewer days due to illness.
2. Helps with weight loss
As it gets the heart beating, the blood pumping and the muscles working, yoga is also a gentle way to kickstart the metabolic system, which, in turn, helps burn fat. Yoga has also been linked to more mindful eating. All of which also reduces the risk of lifestyle diseases like heart disease and diabetes, resulting in a longer, healthier life – good for employees and employers alike.
3. Boosts energy levels
The combination of increased fitness, better weight management, regular movement, and steady breathing work increases the energy levels of even the most overworked and overtired of practitioners. More energy, of course, means a more productive and engaged employee, who has a significantly reduced likelihood of making errors on the job.
4. Improved flexibility and strength
Whether sat at a desk, driving a delivery vehicle or stood at a piece of machinery all day, many of our workplaces are not set up for ideal body health. Yoga can help stretch, tone, and correct those posture alignment issues while strengthening the core muscles to help better posture while on the job in the future.
5. Reduces stress
In studies that look at Heart Rate Variability (HRV), yoga has been shown to reduce ‘depressive’ symptoms, linked to conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression. Increased HRV means your body is better able to adapt to changing conditions and pressures, which has to be a big tick in the box for any employee.
6. Leads to better sleep
A consistent lack of sleep leads to less focus, poor memory, decreased organizational skills, increased stress levels, and more sick days – essentially, productivity nosedives. All the above benefits of yoga – certain poses in particular – can lead to better sleep.
7. Creates mindfulness
One of the main reasons why young professionals are turning to yoga is their search of mindfulness. Yoga is every bit as much about internal health as external fitness. Poses require practitioners to drop thoughts of the past or future and, instead, deal only with the present second. The ability to be mindful improves with practice and can be applied at other times – when running late for a meeting, faced with deadlines, or just feeling generally overworked. It also allows practitioners to think clearly when under stress and operate in less than ideal environments. A kind of workplace superpower.
8. Makes everyone happy
We could go into the science around gamma-aminobutyric levels in the brain, or increased mass in some regions of grey matter, but better we cut to the chase: regular yoga makes practitioners happier, for all the above reasons and more. Happier employees are, of course, less absent, more helpful, provide better customer service, and are more productive. But they’re also just a lot nicer to work with. And for that reason alone, maybe it’s time to embed yoga in your workplace culture. You’ll likely see better results, but you’ll definitely see more smiles.