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Updated May 07, 2024

6 Ways Yoga Can Improve Productivity at Work

Don't think yoga is important in business? The benefits of yoga can increase productivity.

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Chad Brooks, Managing Editor & Expert on Business Ownership
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Whether self-employed, a small business owner or a corporate mogul, incorporating fitness into your work’s wellness program can benefit your business and employees (even if that’s just you).

Workers’ poor health costs employers up to $10,000 per employee in lost work productivity annually, according to the Journal of Medical Economics. However, companies that offer yoga and other preventive initiatives can benefit from healthier workers; such benefits include significantly reducing their health insurance premiums and increasing their bottom line.

FYIDid you know
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health insurance costs for businesses range from $2.63 per employee hour worked (6.7 percent of total compensation) in the smallest establishments (up to 49 workers) to $5.91 (10.6 percent) in the largest establishments (500 workers or more).

Many companies recognize the value of yoga; they’re offering classes as part of their corporate wellness, including pro sports teams, Forbes, GE, Apple, Google, GM, Chase Manhattan Bank, HBO, GM, Industrial Light & Magic, and Nike.

How yoga helps productivity

Healthy, relaxed and focused employees are more productive. Even encouraging employees to take just 10 minutes during the workday to practice some simple yoga stretches — at their desks, in a conference room or outside — can help diminish stress and increase focus. Offering yoga classes at work or off-site is a low-cost, high-ROI benefit that employees will appreciate.

Consider these six ways yoga can boost your employees’ — and your own — productivity at work.

1. It increases energy and reduces fatigue.

Working nonstop can create stress. Even standing up, stretching or doing physical activity every 30 minutes greatly increases blood circulation. Incorporating simple yoga moves at these times is a great way to avoid fatigue.

2. It alleviates physical ailments.

If you’re suffering from aches, pains or even more severe physical problems, this will affect your productivity. No matter your job, if you are constantly thinking about and dealing with ailments, the last thing your mind will focus on is work.

Yoga can help relieve even the most severe pain and physical problems, such as those associated with traumatic brain injuries. If it can help in that context, imagine what it can do for regular headaches, carpal tunnel, neck strain, shoulder stiffness, arthritis, etc.

3. It relieves stress.

Aside from physical pain and illness, the other major factor affecting employee health and work productivity is mental and emotional stress. While stress itself doesn’t always cause people to seek help, it can cause and exacerbate physical ailments and conditions — including colds, allergies, headaches, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Stress accounts for billions of business dollars lost due to reduced productivity, absenteeism, employee turnover, accidents and medical fees. Avoiding such problems is paramount for both employees and businesses.

4. It improves concentration and focus.

Stressful deadlines, endless meetings and the general loud chaos of a workplace create mental clutter that prevents you from concentrating and making good decisions. Yoga’s meditation and breathing exercises help to silence the noise and clear the clutter; this lets you be more mindful, alert and focused.

5. It helps with creativity.

Yoga improves concentration and focus and opens the mind so creative juices and energy can flow. Your brain cannot think outside the box when it is confined within one.

If you feel well physically, mentally and emotionally, your morale will improve. If you are focused and energetic, your positivity will be strong. If your creativity is unleashed, your self-confidence will soar. And all of this will make you a better employee: in your job responsibilities, your dealings with clients and your interactions with fellow employees.

6. It boosts resilience.

When employees regularly pause to practice yoga, they can grow resilience. This improves an individual’s ability to deal with stress and make difficult decisions quickly.

Employees with a calm spirit are also more likely to focus on listening and building emotional intelligence.

Did You Know?Did you know
Yoga mats for home fitness outsold weight benches, home cycling machines and pull-up bars in 2021, according to Statista.

How companies can bring yoga to in-person and virtual workforces

1. Start a ‘mindful movement’ daily routine.

Doing yoga daily at work, even in a virtual environment, offers benefits. Lindsey Hyland, founder of Urban Organic Yield, said one example of a mindful movement could be formal stretches performed at the beginning of the day; this will loosen tight muscles and increase blood flow.

Another time for a mindful moment is a few hours later. “This may reduce pain caused by hours of typing or other weight-bearing activities,” Hyland said. “It might also help to take five-minute midday breaks to stand up or walk around, followed by another stretch or 10 deep breaths.”

Yoga at work doesn’t have to be mandatory, but everyone should be encouraged to attend at least one class. The perk of a virtual team is that employees can do yoga virtually together or on their own.

2. Include yoga in an employee wellness program.

Employee wellness programs aim to benefit the employee, but they also help the employer and the company as a whole. Relaxed employees do their jobs better, often at a higher level.

“Conducting yoga classes once a week outside work hours will allow employees who cannot attend to practice mindfulness and stress relief,” Hyland said. “However, if you have a large enough staff, it may also be possible to have a dedicated yoga session during work hours. This will allow your employees to take advantage of yoga’s physical and mental benefits without taking time away from their jobs.”

Yoga classes can also now be taken virtually, which is helpful for a company with remote employees worldwide.

“With no office space required, employees can select a class to suit their new home-working timetable,” said Simon Nichols, chief supply officer at Evendo. “Companies are also not tied to local instructors. With virtual classes, you can discover great instructors from across the world.”

3. Create a relaxation room at the office.

Creating a relaxation or wellness room in the office is essential for high productivity and overall performance. Employees need a place to escape from business noise and office clutter.

The space should be inviting, comfortable and judgment-free, whether the room is used for meditation, yoga or power naps. Supporting your employees’ mental and physical health is vital for your business’s sustainability and top talent loyalty.

You don’t need to have a large budget to create a relaxation room, but following these guidelines can lead to maximum benefits:

  • Natural lighting. Choose a room with many windows or use dimmable lamps instead of overhead lighting.
  • Live plants. Adding plants can improve air quality and provide a tranquil environment when needed most.
  • Calm color pallet. Use neutral tones or green and blues to create a zen ambiance.
  • Soundproofing. A space free from the monotonous hum or chaos of the office can transport an employee to a completely different place. Quiet rooms can help employees de-stress and refocus.
  • Relaxation aids. Yoga mats, comfortable seating, stress balls, essential oils and calming music can all help workers quickly re-center themselves.
FYIDid you know
Yoga is just one factor that can help boost your team’s output. An ergonomically designed workstation and proper lighting can also increase productivity.

4. Set an example from the top.

Like most workplace initiatives, a yoga program needs to start with leadership. Including yoga as a daily part of a virtual workforce’s routine is a culture change.

“There needs to be an expectation from leadership that employees take care of their minds and bodies — a culture shift that makes it OK to spend a half-hour a day on self-care or black out a block of time where everyone practices together,” said Ashley Cardini, certified yoga instructor and teacher of mindfulness in the workplace.

If leadership practices and encourages these behaviors, employees are less likely to feel guilty about taking time out of their day for yoga or meditation.

Jennifer Post contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

author image
Chad Brooks, Managing Editor & Expert on Business Ownership
Chad Brooks is the author of "How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business," drawing from over a decade of experience to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs in launching, scaling, and sustaining profitable ventures. With a focused dedication to entrepreneurship, he shares his passion for equipping small business owners with effective communication tools, such as unified communications systems, video conferencing solutions and conference call services. A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Brooks has become a respected figure in the business landscape. His insightful contributions have been featured in publications like Huffington Post, CNBC, Fox Business, and Laptop Mag. Continuously staying abreast of evolving trends, Brooks collaborates closely with B2B firms, offering strategic counsel to navigate the dynamic terrain of modern business technology in an increasingly digital era.
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