What's a fast and easy way to get a break and get your blood and fluids moving again? Yoga. Let's clear our minds from the typical mental image of "yoga" that you are thinking about right now--likely, a yoga studio filled with women wearing colorful spandex. And let's think of yoga as the Sanskrit word meaning "connection." Think of yoga as a series of movements and stretches to connect your mind, breath, and body, so that you end up refreshed and clear headed. Here are three reasons why office yoga works.
Sitting is bad for your health. Think about your work day. How do you feel after sitting and working for long periods of time? Chances are, not that great.
Many offices are working hard to change this sitting while working culture. Growing tech companies emphasize having offices stocked with healthy snacks, open plan workspaces, and couches where people can work on laptops. Although this refreshing space change can have some benefits, it doesn't change the fact that most people sit while they work. And these days, people work constantly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, adults spent almost 9 hours at work or doing related activities in the typical day, significantly more time than all other activities, including sleeping.
Moving is good for your health. When we are sitting, everything in our body moves less: Blood flow and circulation fluids in our joints, spine and brains slows. These fluids are responsible for several functions, such as moving oxygen and nutrients around our bodies, removing wastes, and circulating hormones and chemicals. A key, and often under-appreciated, side effect of sitting at a desk for long periods of time is that brain function tends to slow, which can result in feeling "foggy."
Yoga makes sitting healthier. Asana, or physical yoga poses, were designed to help monks sit quietly and meditate with focus for longer periods of time, and is the ideal movement system for today's office worker. Work psychologists have noted that changing environments (and thus, moving around) are associated with creativity and innovation. By taking a short break during the day to move into a new space to practice movement and meditation, you are clearing your mind and undoing a lot of the damage that comes from sitting.
As the founder of an office yoga company, my first recommendation is to have a skilled teacher with experience working in offices come in to the workplace, at least once per week. If it is within the company's budget, twice weekly is even more ideal. However, not all workplaces have the budget for in-office services. In this case, it is up to the individual to take it upon themselves to learn a few poses that feel good in your body that you can commit to doing on a regular basis. If you can, move to a different space to do these poses, and get a mind refresher.
And if you have one minute, try these easy one minute yoga sequences:
Lauren Coles is the Founder and Lead Teacher of Daisy Office Yoga in New York City, where she brings yoga to people at work. She has co-written the first Office Yoga curriculum backed by research and medical science, and believes in the power of yoga to improve people's relationship with their minds and bodies. Her YouTube series, Ms. Yoga CEO, aims to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves through simple yoga and meditation.