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corporate yoga class

Employee wellness programs have finally made it to mainstream corporate America. Formerly consider a “nice-to-have” fringe benefit, today they have become more and more common and are frequently part of a firm’s enticement package for new recruits. And why not? Encouraging one’s work force to be active and embrace healthy changes increases productivity, reduces sick days and makes for happier employees. An internal study conducted by Johnson and Johnson measured the success of their wellness program over a 10-year period. It revealed that, “the return on the wellness programs was $2.71 for every dollar spent, and resulted in cumulative savings of $250 million on health care costs for the company.”

When such a plan is mentioned, basketball courts, weight and cardio rooms or walking trails may first spring to mind. However, yoga is becoming a popular option within corporate wellness programs. In addition to being an affordable choice, time on one’s yoga mat has a multitude of benefits; in the workplace or anywhere. Naturally it improves flexibility, postural alignment and strength. It also weaves seamlessly into holistic healthcare and preventive medicine. This is due to yoga’s meditative components that effectively reduce stress and improve creativity. Many yoga practitioners feel that yoga breaks during the workday enable them to achieve better focus in stressful corporate environments.

Larger studies have also indicated that within the corporate sector, the two most disabling conditions are depression, which is in the number one spot, and cardio-vascular disease, coming in at number two. The World Health Organization recently observed that sedentary desk jobs, increased accountability expectations due to technology, poor diet, longer commute times, longer hours and the tendency to multi-task has resulted in, “a pool of highly stressed, inefficient and thus despairing workforce.” Case in point as illustrated by the National Institute of Mental Health: The annual total loss in revenue in the U.S. caused by absenteeism, lost productivity, and disability caused by mental distress is around $70 billion.

Considering that physical and mental well being go hand in hand, no wonder yoga is finally on the radar of those implementing corporate wellness packages. After all, achieving the mind-body balance is really what yoga is all about. Along with all of the benefits already mentioned, yogic breathing is another factor that serves to reduce anxiety and stress and boost concentration. Some trickle-down effects are better interpersonal skills, more positive and constructive communication, and better problem solving.

So…just how easy is it to implement a yoga program at the office? The first consideration is empty floor space, which is usually not too tall of an order. Participants may bring their own mats or the firm could supply them.

Next make sure that the instructor will work with all skill levels and give some individual time to each employee. Yoga sessions could average anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, several times a week. Of course the size of the staff and daily schedule would dictate the frequency.

In the words of Yoga Journal contributor, Nancy Wolfson, remember that, “Companies are finding that yoga not only helps employees be more productive, it also creates a kinder, gentler workplace.”


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