Get Your Stretch On!

Whether you work 40 hours, 20 hours or 70 hours a week, work takes a toll on our bodies and our minds.  Some of us sit for hours staring at a screen and then there are those of us that are on our feet for lengthy hours.  There is the constant hum of what, when, where and how fast do you need it/need to do it?  Let’s face it, a majority of our daily lives are spent working.  Our muscles ache, our bottoms go numb from sitting at that desk and most of us have stress that’s through the roof. 

In 2017, Global news published an article siting that a staggering 500,000 Canadians miss work each week due to stress and its health related issues!  But what if there was a remedy to this?  What if the work place cared about your physical and mental wellness?  What if your employer gave you the tools to make every day better, healthier?  

A new trend in the corporate world is yoga and meditation in the work place.  Corporations are finding that not only do these practices increase staff morale, they  also improve  staff retention.  With the use of yoga and meditation, employees are claiming a handful of happy benefits that include: lower stress levels, better sleeping patterns, , and an ability to quickly and easily make mindful decisions in the work place. Simply put, they are more productive on the job and getting along better with their co-workers.

Forward-thinking and innovative companies such as Apple, Forbes and Nike have been investing in mindful programs for some time now and find the value unrivaled when compared to any other staff retention programs they have offered in the past. Google offers yoga and emotional intelligence courses to all of their employees.  General Mills has a mediation room in every building on its corporate campus.

The best part about yoga and meditation is that it can be done anywhere, anytime!  If you are at a desk, stand up, take a big breath in reaching your hands up to the ceiling and exhale your hands down the ground and repeat.  Are your legs tight?  Step your feet about 3 feet apart and forward fold,.  Not bendy?  Simply hold onto a stable object (desk, counter, car) and fold. 

Movement and stretching is great, but, the simplest exercise, and quite honestly the most important habit, is to remember to breathe.  We go about our days not realizing that we are constantly holding our breath.  Try taking a big, belly-filling breath in, hold it for a moment, then release and repeat!  Take notice of your breath throughout the day. Are your inhales longer than your exhales or vice versa?  Try and even them out by counting a few breaths.

Yoga and meditation in the workplace benefit employers in the following ways (just to name a few):

  • Teach individual stress management
  • Increase clarity, alertness, positive decision making
  • Promote positive thinking and staff morale
  • Improve the posture, flexibility, mental/physical strength and overall health of their staff
  • Help employees find their  breath (breath is key to lowering the negative effects of stress)

As you can see, the benefits of yoga and meditation are about as long as Chris Kringle’s  naughty/nice list!  So go ahead, get your stretch on and get the stress out!

By Vanessa Groeneveld