Workplace Yoga

Have a look at this article from Yoga Times on Workplace Yoga. I’m happy to be part of this movement.

Years ago (at least 10) I remember reading an article about a company in Japan being so advanced that they created a roof-top garden space for their employees to have exercise classes. I remember my initial thought was; “weird…cool! but still weird”. They explained that having a break from the day allowed their employees to be more productive in the later hours of the day. It then went on to say they worked ridiculously long hours, but maintained focus and that employee satisfaction was actually quite high. At the time I read it, and really didn’t give it much more thought passed the “weird.. cool, but weird” As I think about it now, it must have struck a cord as it has sat in my memory bank for this long. It could be related to something a professor (a very wise sociology professor in Cégep, whom I believe is still there, and still on my social media radar!) once suggested to me. She explained it may be a good idea for me to study while doing exercise. She explained that because I was an athlete and pretty active, having the physical movement would help me to retain the information, rather than it be a purely intellectual connection I would feel the information as I moved. I bought that simplified version of why it would help me and it did. Now after many years of study I realize there is so much more at play including endorphin release, synapse formation, memory location, the mind- body connection is so incredibly interesting.

All this to say is that we really don’t need an explanation as to why movement and exercise work, we can feel it. It is only to obvious for some to use movement as a tool for success. The simple equation when we relate this to our jobs is; work+exercise= job satisfaction, higher productivity. A win for the employers and employees. I have recently been introduced to teaching in a corporate building. I have a standing class and I love it. I wasn’t sure I would at first as it is a different type of class, shorter because of lunch hour restrictions, less time for chatting and sharing (forming personal connections is something I love to do) but the amazing part is that the men and women that come in, REALLY enjoy it, I can feel the release and the tension lifting as they settle in. I’ve been paying close attention to their faces and body language and it is remarkable how much lighter, softer, more confident they leave from when they come in. Even the small suggestion of breathing into the belly can be a huge benefit physically and emotionally, and make all the difference in how the remainder of the day unfolds. A yoga practice may make a world of difference in stress levels to employees and we have all heard of how lower Cortisol levels are key to physical, emotional and mental health. Perhaps this company in Japan that was “weird and cool” was incredibly forward thinking 10 or so years ago. I’m not saying we should start building gardens on all the roof tops in the downtown core, (although it would be amazing, I can’t imagine the logistics of that, especially with Canada’s winters) but holding a yoga class is a good start. It seems more and more workplaces are seeing the benefits to offering “brain breaks” and exercise at the office, to those pioneers in Japan, I am happy you did what you did. Upward and Onward to the forward, innovative employers of the world.


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